Speeding at High and Cedar Streets Under Review

The Derry Highway Safety Committee has tabled and will revisit a resident’s request for a stop sign at the intersection of High Street and Cedar Street.

Daniel McInnis, a resident of Cedar Street, appeared at the Nov. 19 Safety Committee meeting to request the sign, citing both speeding and sight distance as factors. He is requesting the sign be placed on the High Street side.

McInnis wrote in his request, “High Street is known to the people who live on it as a road that is driven entirely too fast upon. The nature of the road and surrounding landscaping is not conducive to safety.”

McInnis said in the meeting that people driving on High Street must crest a hill before the intersection with Cedar. He said he has seen vehicles “nearly clipped” coming out of Cedar Street due to a lack of visibility down High Street. In addition, he said, a school bus stop is nearby and he is concerned about the safety of children.

McInnis circulated photos he had taken of the area at risk. Highway Superintendent Alan Cote noted that McInnis measured the sight distance from the intersection and that is not the preferred method for measuring sight distance. “You measure back 10 feet,” he said. “Sometimes the stop sign is 15 to 20 feet back from the intersection.”

Cote told McInnis that his department always tries to minimize the use of stop signs, except on main roads, and doesn’t expect them to control speed. “A stop sign is not meant to control speed but to control movement through the intersection,” he said.

Cote added that there are ways to maximize sight distance without installing a stop sign. “You could say, ‘We’re going to cut this slope back, we’re going to talk to this abutter about moving a tree.’ That’s better,” he said.

But McInnis said there is a constant problem with both sight distance and speed. “Short of calling the cops every day, I don’t know what to do,” he told the committee.

Cote said on some of the longer streets in Manchester there are stop signs every 300 feet, and people end up ignoring them. “People roll right through, and that’s breeding disrespect for stop signs,” he said.

Cote said he is reluctant to create a four-way stop unless there are three streets of equal importance. “If they’re equal in traffic count or geometry, then it’s important that people stop in all directions,” he said.

Police Chief Ed Garone gave the example of Franklin Street and Rollins Street. “You could not go through that intersection safely without stop signs,” he said.

And Cote gave the example of Kendall Pond Road and Fordway. “Both have substantial traffic counts and vegetation that could obscure sight distance,” he observed.

Cote added that he’s “not a fan” of speed bumps. But High Street, due to the prevalence of on-street parking, has a natural bent toward slowing speed, he added.

McInnis said that doesn’t necessarily help. “I was up at 4:30 this morning and walking my dog by 5 and people were still speeding,” he said.

That was because of commuter traffic, Cote said, noting, “You’re most likely to see faster speeds in the early morning.”

McInnis maintained that the speed of cars on High Street and Cedar is still too fast for his comfort but added, “I don’t expect the Derry Police to spend all their time there.”

Cote agreed to research the issue, including measuring the sight distance, and the group tabled the issue till next month.