Local Government and Politics, News

Saugus selectmen to consider lowering speed limit on Central Street

SAUGUS — The town might change the speed limit on a 2.5-mile road with eight different speed regulations Wednesday night.

The Saugus Board of Selectmen will consider lowering the speed limit to 30 miles per hour on Central Street.

The Engineering Corp., an Andover-based transportation, engineering and surveying firm, completed a study on six major roads last month and determined that people feel comfortable driving at or around the established speed limits. The firm recommended the limit be changed to 30 miles per hour along the length of Central Street, with the exception of maintaining the existing 20 and 25 miles per hour zones surrounding the town center. 

There have been 700 crashes on Water Street, Central Street, Main Street, Hamilton Street, Essex Street and Lincoln Avenue, the town’s six major roads, in the past five years, according to crash data on file with the Saugus Police Department. About 35 of those crashes were directly related to speed, according to the reports.

“MassDOT assumes that most motorists will select a safe speed that they feel comfortable traveling on a road,” said Elizabeth Oltman, project manager for The Engineering Corp. 

To determine that speed, the firm measures the speed that 85 percent of motorists travel at or below during the day. The data is collected through travel trial runs and radar speed collection. In all areas studied by the firm, the 85th percentile speeds were recorded to be at or above the posted speed limit. 

“This leads me to believe, in my judgment, that your current regulatory speeds are appropriate for these roadways,” said Oltman. 

An exception to this is Central Street, which has eight speed regulations over its 2.5-mile length, ranging from 20-35 miles per hour. 

The Board of Selectmen, the traffic commissioners of the town, voted to lower the speed limit on Lincoln Avenue, Essex Street, Main Street and Central Street to 25 miles per hour during a series of meetings earlier this year, but the state denied the request.

In a letter to selectmen, district highway director Paul Stedman wrote that “revising the existing speed zones as requested on Lincoln Avenue, Main Street, and Essex Street would not conform to the current speed regulations.”

For MassDOT to consider modifying these regulations, the town would have to submit proper documentation and data for roadways under their jurisdiction that supported the change.

“I know a lot of times people don’t want to hear this — it doesn’t get said enough — but a lot of our fatals and different accidents we’ve had, based on the investigations from the law enforcement and state and local police, haven’t been associated with speed,” said Town Manager Scott Crabtree at a meeting last month.

A lot of the accidents in recent years have been related to distracted driving, alcohol and drug use, age, and medical conditions, said Crabtree.

Wednesday’s meeting begins at 7 p.m.

 

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