EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 9, 2013

Windham may erect new speed limit signs

Speed limit signs

By John Toole
jtoole@eagletribune.com

---- — WINDHAM — Safety officials are asking selectmen to put up speed limit signs at the town lines.

Police Chief Gerald Lewis will present the request on behalf of the Police Department and town Highway Safety Committee during a meeting tonight.

A memo from Lewis to selectmen asks for nine signs to be placed at the Pelham, Salem, Derry and Londonderry town lines.

Drivers would see the signs on Lowell, Range, Salem, Rockingham, North Lowell, Mammoth, Depot and Kendall Pond Roads.

“As many of our local streets do not have a posted speed limit sign, I would suggest that having such signs posted as motorists enter town would be a beneficial notice for the community,” Lewis told selectmen.

Police prosecutor Heather Newell advised Lewis the signs would help her argue speeding cases in court.

The signs would read, “Town-wide speed limit 30 mph unless otherwise posted.”

Lowell, Range, Salem, Rockingham, North Lowell and Mammoth are state roads so the state Department of Transportation would have to approve placement of the signs there, Lewis told selectmen.

Highway Safety Committee members said the signs could help clarify lawful speeds for motorists.

Most town roads have a 30-mph limit the state sets for business and urban residential areas, but signs aren’t necessarily posted on them.

Windham neighborhoods that have different speed limits typically do have signs posted.

“By posting advisory signs as motorists enter town, we are sure that the travelling public is on notice of speed limits in town,” Lewis said Thursday.

Windham is not exempt from speeding motorists.

“It does occasionally happen,” Lewis said.

Fire Chief Tom McPherson, who heads the safety panel, said speeding can put lives in danger.

“It’s a risk for the motoring public, pedestrians and children,” McPherson said.

Community planner Elizabeth Wood, a member of the safety panel, said speeding is an issue that comes up in town.

“Most certainly and not just sometimes,” Wood said. “Speeding is a constant complaint and concern, not just in Windham, but every community.”

Wood said speeding can detract from a neighborhood’s quality of life.

“Speeding vehicles add a sense of uncertainty and concern on behalf of neighborhood residents,” she said. “Speeding can lead to a host of issues including, but not limited to, vehicles losing control, property damage, pedestrians — including children — and pets being struck, and unnecessary noise.”

Bob Coole, a member of the safety panel, said he supports the proposal.

“I think it’s a good idea,” he said.

Coole lives on Morrison Road, the only officially designated scenic road in Windham. The road is posted for 25 mph, he said.

“They did a speed test on my road six years ago and the average speed was 46 mph,” Coole said.

But some officials over the years have tried to put 25 mph limits everywhere in town, Coole said.

He characterized that as ridiculous and, in some cases, unenforceable by police.

State law requires communities justify speed limits beyond those set in statute.

The selectmen’s meeting is set for 7 p.m. in the Community Development offices, 3 North Lowell Road.