By Mark E. Vogler
A town-wide speed limit analysis recently commissioned by Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree could focus on up to nine primary road corridors in Saugus where new regulations could be considered.
The Engineering Corp (TEC) of Andover identified Essex Street (East of Route 1), Main Street, Water Street, Hamilton Street, Lincoln Avenue, Central Street and up to three additional roadways that are identified by town stakeholders during an initial meeting, according to a project narrative presented to the town. “TEC will determine the safe speed range for each study area roadway based upon the data collected, including the trial runs, recorded speeds, crash history, and geometry,” the report says.
The consultant group is expected to provide a draft report to the town detailing the current speed limit inventory and current regulations and outlining the results of the data collection and analysis while providing recommendations for speed limits throughout town.
“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,” Town Manager Crabtree said in a statement this week announcing his decision to hire TEC for the study.
“With this comprehensive Town-wide speed limit analysis and corresponding traffic safety improvement plan, we aim to increase protection and peace of mind for walkers and drivers within our community through a consistent, uniform approach,” he said.
The study will cost the town up to $39,000, which will be paid for by grant money, according to Crabtree. If the Saugus Police Department assists in the radar gun data collection, cost of the study could be reduced by $7,000. A draft report would be available by March 29, with April 19 as the target completion date of the final report.
The timeline for the report appears to provide Crabtree and other town officials time to prepare budget recommendations for the Annual Town Meeting, which convenes in May.
“We will work closely with municipal staff to address speeding and traffic congestion by providing recommendations for improving safe and efficient traffic flow such as speed reduction markings, speed humps, signage, street flow conversion, removing bump outs and flashing beacons at crosswalks,” the TEC report notes.
TEC has worked on more than 10 traffic and transportation engineering projects for both private and public clients in Saugus since 2006.
The project narrative notes that the study offers opportunities for the town to:
- Bring all regulatory speed signage into compliance with state and federal standards;
- Create areas with regulatory slower speeds near high pedestrian volume areas, such as local schools;
- Provide warning signage at locations where roadway geometry requires a slower speed; and
- Provide a response to residential concerns regarding speed limit signage throughout town.
Crabtree said the speed limit analysis is part of a continued effort to improve roadway safety and create a safer, more secure environment for walkers and riders.
TEC will work closely with Town officials and community representatives over the next several months to identify and study areas where traffic volumes and speeds are a concern, and take a comprehensive look at suggested speed limits for Town streets and identify the best placement for accompanying signage, Crabtree said. TEC will conduct intensive research and analysis over the next few months. The Town and TEC will then present their findings at a public meeting in the spring. Residents will be encouraged to attend this meeting to learn more about TEC’s findings and vocalize their suggestions on where traffic mitigation measures should be implemented. Residents’ suggestions will then be incorporated into TEC’s recommendations, and a final report will be submitted to the Town.
Crabtree and the Board of Selectmen have continuously encouraged the public to share any input and concerns regarding traffic safety with Saugus. Many residents and stakeholders have expressed their opinions at meetings and through phone calls and correspondence to the Town, which have all been presented to TEC and will be taken into consideration as part of their global analysis, according to the town manager.
“The cornerstone to implementing change will consist of clear and concise signage, traffic enforcement, and an ongoing educational campaign for the public,” Crabtree said.
“This is a 40-plus- year community issue that we do not want to fix in a piecemeal fashion, or with a Band-Aid approach,” he said.
“We are doing our due diligence to ensure the proper steps are taken, input from 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.”
Contact the Town Manager’s Office at 781-231-4111 for more information, or with any questions.