2017-02-24 / Front Page

Town adopts new traffic calming policy

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — Although the old traffic calming policy in Kennebunk was only created in 2012, with amendments adopted in 2013, town staffers feel it was due for an overhaul.

At their Feb. 15 meeting, selectmen unanimously adopted new rules for how, when and where to install speed bumps and other ways of gaining compliance with posted speed limits.

The new policy was drafted by a traffic safety committee that included Fire Chief Jeffrey Rowe, Police Chief Robert MacKenzie, Public Services Director Eric Labelle, and Community Development Director Chris Osterrieder.

“The new process may be slightly more cumbersome, but we want to get as broad a spectrum of input as possible before we implement these things, because they will cost money,” Osterrieder said.

When selectmen first reviewed the new policy in December, Osterrieder said the change keeps the town from having to respond to every petition submitted to have speed bumps installed.

“Part of the reason for modifying the policy is that, as structured now, it relies upon a citizen to put forth a petition saying, ‘I want traffic calming devices,’” he said at the time. “But we want to make this more than a yes-or-no policy. Right now, all problems are equal, but we really can’t be in the position to keep buying speed bumps. We’ll have every street in town with one.”

Currently, the town has temporary speed bumps installed on Chase Hill, Pleasant Street and Woodside Drive.

The new policy would compel the police department to undertake a Field Study of Traffic Conditions (FSTC) and make a recommendation to the public safety committee.

Some form of traffic calming may be recommended if:

 85 percent of vehicles are found to be exceeding the posted speed limit by 10 mph or more;

 Cut-through traffic — cars deemed to be using a side street to avoid a stop light, or other traffic condition — exceeds normal traffic volume by more than 25 percent;

 and the area in question has seen three or more traffic accidents during the 18 months prior to the study.

“Everything costs money. So, we can’t say yes to every single thing, but we also want to make sure anything we do is an appropriate solution,” Osterrieder said.

Under the new policy, devices such as roadside signs — whether on trailers, connected to message boards, or installed as part of a flashing “dynamic” sign — could be used on any street. However, speed bumps, longer speed tables, roundabouts, and chicanes would only be considered on town roads where the posted speed limit is 25 mph, or less.

Town Manager Michael Pardue said that while the new policy sets out a process for residents to request traffic calming measures in their neighborhoods, and the steps the police will take in reviewing those applications, it does not create deadlines for action.

“Our pledge is to move as quickly as possible, but recognizing that there is a data collection component to this that can take time,” he said.

“It’s not in anybody’s interest to drag their feet on these but sometimes when you place a timetable, it may be forcing imprudent decisions,” selectboard Chairman Dick Morin said.

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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