Local Government and Politics, News, Police/Fire

Lynnfield cracks down on speeding

This article was published 1 year(s) and 6 month(s) ago.

Town Administrator Rob Dolan, left, and Select Board Chair Dick Dalton, listens as resident Erin Hohmann tells the Select Board that traffic on Salem Street is a "nightmare" on Monday. (Anne Marie Tobin)

LYNNFIELD — The Town of Lynnfield is stepping up efforts to curb speeding within the community.

Town Administrator Rob Dolan said that traffic has become the largest safety issue in the community.

“It’s a daunting problem as we have double the number of cars and we are surrounded by major highways,” he said.

“Since things have reopened starting in March this year, speeding is one of the top-five complaints we get,” Police Chief Nick Secatore said at Monday’s Select Board meeting, adding that the department is now getting complaints from areas that previously had not lodged complaints.

“But I do think we have a reasonable plan to present tonight.”

Secatore said the department has reached out to residents in problem areas, and the town is taking a multi-pronged approach to a solution that focuses not on punitive measures, but on education and modern technology.

“We can use portable police boards to enforce other streets we receive complaints about and we have the plan Mr. Dolan laid out, but we are also focusing on visibility,” Secatore said. “With police cruisers in static areas, people coming to town will see them, and we are using our sign boards to notify people of our presence so they are aware there is enforcement in the area.”

Salem Street resident Ellen Coleman said traffic is an “absolute nightmare.”

“We no longer have quality of life,” she said. “Route 1 through Wakefield is being used as a throughway for heavy trucks and freight.”

Coleman asked for additional signage in the area and for consideration of a ban on heavy trucks’ usage on that part of Salem Street.

Select Board Chair Dick Dalton said Main Street is also a headache.

“The No. 1 issue brought up with me in the last two years is speeding, head and shoulders above any other issue,” he said. “The challenge to just get on Main Street is incredible with so many people using it instead of Route 128 as a cut through. The flow isn’t residential and speeding is a big problem. You can’t build a wall around Lynnfield, but this is an issue of general public safety.”

Dolan assured the public that speed and traffic flow is taken into account when the town is designing infrastructure improvements, citing the newly-designed island at the intersection of Walnut and Summer streets.

“The idea is to pull out the curbing, forcing people to have to slow down to enter the intersection safely at lower speeds,” he said. “Every project we do, we consider this. We also now have two additional speed-monitoring systems, which don’t take plate numbers but do record the date, time, speed and number of cars. They can also be used as message boards and they do work and don’t create signage pollution.”

The state-of-the-town report introduced during the meeting highlighted other things the town is doing. In some areas, speed limits have been reduced with other areas to be investigated in the near future.

Speed bumps and lights have been placed at key school crosswalks. A new, portable speed-display board has been purchased for police use in neighborhoods, which has resulted in some success.

Secatore said residents are “excited” about the department’s stepped-up efforts.

“They say these methods do work, plus additional staffing will help us,” he said. “This is not punitive. The majority of cars we stop are not being issued citations. We are not trying to punish people; we are trying to educate people to let them know that there’s concerns in the area. We think it’s a great approach. We can also have some data from some small sign boards as well.” 

Solar speed-monitoring devices placed in key high-volume streets in town have also been successful. New devices will be installed this winter on upper Main Street and the Main and the Lowell streets intersection.  Additional devices will be recommended for Salem and Essex streets for inclusion in the fiscal year 2023 budget.

Secatore said that the key is the technology, which “is going to take us forward. That’s the good news in the plan.”

Secatore acknowledged that not every complaint has been attended to yet and raised the question of whether the town should hire a dedicated traffic-enforcement officer.

“We’ve increased staffing and I know that, at times, the town has talked about a dedicated traffic-enforcement officer and that’s something we can talk about going forward,” he said.

“Our goal is a renewed commitment to speed enforcement by the Lynnfield Police Department throughout the town,” the report stated. “The focus of this initiative is not punitive in nature but focused on livability, safety, protection of our youth, the elderly and pedestrians that enjoy walking, exercising, bike riding and enjoying our beautiful walkable community and neighborhoods.”

Dolan said the town will apply for a second grant (Phase 2) from the Complete Streets State Grant program in 2022. He explained that municipalities are eligible to apply for a grant every two years. The town’s 2020 grant was $450,000.

“Phase 2, if funded, will consist of a project to improve the South Common and Main street area which is very dangerous,” Dolan said, adding that the application is due in the spring of 2022.

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