Chester board continues speed limit discussion

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Speed  limits once again took center stage at the Chester Select Board’s Nov. 18 meeting with a discussion of the data collected on River and High streets and Andover Road and requests by residents of those areas seeking reductions in the speed allowed.

To see the speed and vehicle data, click on the name of the road.

Board member Lee Gustafson wanted to see what effect more enforcement would have. Photos courtesy SAPA TV

Pointing to the low number of cars driving on High Street and the average speeds near or below the  limit, board member Lee Gustafson pointed to enforcement to deal with a few outliers.  At the same time, River Street, which has much higher traffic and a speed limit of 30 mph, the average speed of drivers was 29 mph with 85 percent of traffic traveling at less than 35 mph.

Board member Leigh Dakin noted that River Street is more heavily populated and because it is busier with no sidewalks she believes that the limits should be reduced to 25 mph.

Andover Road saw higher speeds, including a couple of outliers — one traveling at 106 mph. Town Manager Julie Hance suggested that might have been a trooper responding to a call.

“Does lowering the speed limit make people go slower?” asked board member Heather Chase.

“People drive at the speed they think the road will take,” said Gustafson noting that limits are only as effective as the enforcement.

Chase said she was not sure the board should change speed limits without trying to do more enforcement first.

Chester resident Ginger Roper argued for reducing the limit on the Andover Road to 30 mph

Gustafson agreed and suggested revisiting in six months after more enforcement and more speed and traffic numbers.

Chester resident Ginger Roper disagreed asking, “How does it negatively impact anybody to reduce the speed limit on a road? It doesn’t cost money and it’s safer for people living on a road.”

Hance said that Police Chief Rick Cloud says that making the limit “too low for the purpose of the road” can lead to other problems, including unsafe passing.

“It’s not if but when there will be a tragic accident on that road,” said Andover Road resident Ralph Falanga. “Isn’t it the  safety of residents that should be a priority? Right now I’m not feeling it …if I sound angry, yes I am. Disappointed and disgusted.”

Acknowledging Roper’s and Falanga’s feelings, board chair Arne Jonynas said it appeared that the board consensus was to get more information.

In other business

Town Manager Julie Hance presented the proposed wayfinding signage plan

The board approved the “wayfinding” plan for signage that would help visitors navigate the town and focus more attention on the Green. The signs will show people who normally turn right on Maple Street while driving north on Rt. 103 that there’s more to Chester than they knew.

The board also approved the annual request by the Chester Snowmobile Club to use portions of several town roads to connect to VAST snowmobile trails.

Hance told the board that the Vermont League of Cities and Towns has hired Trevor Whipple — a former Burlington Police officer, who  worked on that department’s policies to help smaller towns with their policies. She noted that the town has sent its current policies to VLCT for review and that as members, there is no charge for it.

 

 

 

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  1. Christina Perez says:

    It was wonderful to see the speed signs on Andover Road and I absolutely appreciate the efforts. However, after only a short time, they were not working. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if someone was driving 106mph. I can’t even begin to tell you how many drive at excessive speeds especially on the straightaway! At least once a day someone gets passed on the double yellow & it’s only getting worse!!

  2. Diane Parker says:

    Anyone with any care for their vehicle won’t speed on the Andover Road. There are many bumps, potholes, pavement patches in the road and frequent goats, turkeys and demolished vehicles. I recall a time when the speed limit was 50mph and lowered to 40.

  3. Craig Miller says:

    One way to help reduce speeders is to open up your WAZE app on your smart phone and log a Police Presence. (regardless if real or not)

    Anyone using WAZE gets a notice. 😉

  4. Lee Herrington says:

    For those residents who want a speed limit lowered they should know VT statutes require an engineering and traffic survey that justifies the lower limit (Title 23, section 1007). If a limit is not justified by a valid survey the speed limit would be unlawful and could not be enforced. The reason for these laws, which exist in many states, is so that jurisdictions do not lower speed limits for the purpose of creating revenue generating speed traps.

    Chester PD should be doing regular, reasonable, speed enforcement on through streets and residents should support when citations are issued. Warnings do not affect driver behavior in the same manner as a citations. Nobody goes home and says to friends or family “Don’t speed on River Street. You’ll get a warning.”

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