A day before selectmen will consider lowering the speed limit on many of the town’s main roads, Town Manager Scott Crabtree announced Tuesday that a town-wide speed limit analysis is underway.
The Engineering Corp, an Andover-based transportation, engineering and surveying firm, will work closely with the town over the next several months to identify and study areas where traffic volumes and speeds are a concern, and take a comprehensive look at suggesting speed limits for town streets and identify the best placement for accompanying signs.
“The safety of our residents and visitors within our town has always been and will continue to be a top priority to this administration and Board of Selectmen,” said Crabtree in a statement.
Crabtree said the goal with the study is to increase protection and peace of mind for walkers and drivers within the community with a consistent, uniform approach.
The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously in December to lower the speed limit from 30 to 25 miles per hour on Bisbee Road, Hanson Road, Iron Works Way, Cider Mill Road, Vinegar Hill Drive, and Hitching Hill Road.
On Wednesday, they’ll address Essex Street, Main Street, and Lincoln Avenue after more than 160 residents signed a petition asking them to lower the speed limit on the busy roads.
The study is intended to look at the entire town, rather than taking it on street by street.
“The cornerstone to implementing change will consist of clear and concise signage, traffic enforcement, and an ongoing educational campaign for the public,” said Crabtree in the statement. “This is a 40-plus-year community issue that we do not want to fix with a piecemeal fashion, or with a Band-Aid approach.”
Over the past year, residents have been outspoken about the need for safer streets for pedestrians.
Last summer, Robert Hoffman stood before the board using a cane to demand measures be taken to create safer streets. Hoffman and his wife, Judy, were struck along the Northern Strand Community Trail last January. Both suffered serious injuries and were taken to area hospitals for treatment.
This led to dozens of others, pedestrians who had been struck and neighbors advocating for safer streets, to speak out about the problem.
The Engineering Corp will be tasked with conducting intensive research and analysis over the next few months, then presenting their findings at a meeting in the spring. The meeting will be open to the public and residents will be encouraged to suggest where traffic mitigation measures should be implemented. The suggestions will be incorporated into the firm’s recommendations and a final report will be submitted to the town.
Crabtree said he and the selectmen are pleased that many residents have expressed their opinions at meetings and to his office. Correspondence about the issue has already been forwarded to the firm and will be taken into consideration as part of their analysis, he said.
The town has already partnered with WalkBoston, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving walking conditions in cities and towns across Massachusetts, to conduct an initial assessment of the town’s roads and crossings.
“We are doing our due diligence to ensure the proper steps are taken, input from the stakeholders is heard, and a professional traffic engineering analysis is conducted prior to implementing new safety measures throughout the community to make our streets the safest possible to walk, ride, and to drive a vehicle,” said Crabtree.
A public hearing to discuss lowering the speed limit to 25 miles per hour on Essex Street, Main Street, and Lincoln Avenue will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Saugus Town Hall Wednesday.