The Derry Highway Safety Committee will erect posts for the Police Department to hang radar equipment on, but will not change the speed limit on North Shore Road.
The Committee was responding to the request of more than a dozen residents of North Shore and its feeder roads who expressed concern about safety in the area. While the committee acknowledged residents’ concerns, a traffic study by Operations Director Alan Cote revealed that the majority of drivers were going the speed limit or below.
The group, represented by resident Robyn Tolman, first requested a hearing with the board in a letter dated Feb. 14, in which Tolman wrote about an “existing lack of safe passage” for those using the road, particularly bikers and walkers. Tolman listed the following concerns:
• Near misses, when speeding vehicles come within inches of a person walking, jogging, getting the mail or waiting for the school bus;
• Property damage, including downed mailboxes, marred trees and smashed structures;
• Aggressive driver behavior, including tailgating, blowing horns, giving the “finger,” swearing and speeding; and
• Speeding associated with and leading to motor vehicle collisions.
The group formed a yahoo group, [email protected], and Tolman presented a PowerPoint at the March meeting.
Tolman and others mentioned narrow roads, blind driveways, poor sight distance and danger to Pinkerton Academy track teams. One resident said his mailbox was knocked down so often he put in a portable one.
Cote had done a traffic study this past November and after the March 19 session with the residents, he did a speed limit study. In the April 16 meeting he reported back and advised against lowering the speed limit.
Cote said he used a program developed by the Federal Highway Administration to guide the re- commendation of speed limits and using that program, determined that after putting in all the data, the recommended speed limit for that area was 35 miles per hour. The current speed limit is 30 mph.
According to Cote, the program takes into account 85th percentile speed, 50th percentile speed, statutory speed limit, average daily traffic counts, roadway alignment, number of lanes, number of driveways and roadway intersections, on-street parking and pedestrian and bicycle usage.
Cote said according to the study, the 85th percentile was 40 mph and the 50th percentile was 28.9 mph.
“This does not support reducing the speed limit below 30,” he said.
Member Donald Burgess observed that in a now-defunct television show, people were asked to guess the speed of a passing vehicle. “At least 75 percent were wrong,” he said. “They thought it was going faster.”
Cote contributed, “We at the Highway Department get a lot of complaints about our trucks driving too fast.”
He did agree to have the Highway Department set posts along North Shore Road, so the Police Department will be able to hang radar speed signs. The radar signs also collect data, Cote said.
Police Chief Edward Garone said he had stationed an officer in the area and there were no summonses, only a couple of warnings issued.
The committee agreed to have a letter written to Tolman explaining the reasoning behind the denial and the plan to erect posts and use radar.