COLCHESTER — The majority of Tuesday night’s meeting was spent discussing the speed limit on East Lakeshore Drive. Three Colchester citizens were vocal in their concerns about the safety of the current 30 miles per hour speed limit.
Director of Public Works Bryan Osborne, introduced the discussion along with Police Chief Doug Allen. Osborne said Public Works is evaluating the speed limit on East Lakeshore Drive and a request to lower it from 30 mph to 25 mph, which is the lowest speed a public roadway can be set to in Vermont.
“The establishment of speed limits is not a political process, it's not a community consensus process, it’s a traffic and engineering process,” said Osborne.
This process is described in a document referred to as the “Annual Uniform Traffic Control Devices” published by the Federal Highway Administration. This document is the primary guide used to test speed limits on public transportation systems all over the country and what was looked at to evaluate the speed limit on East Lakeshore Drive.
Osborne noted that in 2014 a similar request was received, and in case the town turned to a third party, the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission.
CCRPC evaluated East Lakeshore Drive and concluded that 30 mph was an appropriate speed and actually advised some sections of the road be increased in speed based on a study they conducted. The Town of Colchester later elected to keep the road at 30 mph.
According to Chief Allen, within the last six months, the Colchester Police Department conducted a speed study which measured speed characteristics. Generally, the information gathered was consistent with the study from 2014 by CCRPC.
CPD found there to be no technical basis to change the speed limit in any way, but recommended looking at installing a few electronic radar speed signs along the roadway.
These electronic road signs flash when someone is driving above the speed limit and demonstrate a reasonable amount of effectiveness at changing driver behavior and speed, said Chief Allen.
“They are quite effective, they give you notice of how fast you’re going so you get the feel of what 30 miles an hour should be and not 35,” said Chief Allen.
Chief Allen stated the plan is to purchase two solar-powered speed signs to install on East Lakeshore Drive in each direction. Their locations are not yet determined, but they will be spaced out.
After Osborne and Allen spoke, citizens from Colchester who live on or close to East Lakeshore Drive raised many concerns about safety.
Peter Mongeon who lives on East Lakeshore Drive, had many questions about the data collection. He asked about why West Lakeshore Drive’s speed limit is 25 mph and East Lakeshore Drive’s remains at 30 mph.
Osborne responded that the study done in 2014 only focused on East lakeshore Drive. Osborne also stated the speed limits of these roads were set 30 years ago and that they haven’t changed since then. Osborne also said he felt that if West Lakeshore Drive were to be studied, it would be concluded that the speed limit is too low.
Phyllis Bryden also vocalized her concerns about the safety of East Lakeshore Drive where she resides. She feels the Department of Public Works should be reevaluating speed limits which were set 30 years ago. She also said she has seen people going 40 and almost 50 mph on her street.
“I’m not really convinced that the study was done for safety,” said Bryden.
Bryden hopes and advocates for the addition of a speed bump or possible speed cameras that ticket drivers going above the speed limit. She said she would be willing to start a Gofundme page instead of using taxpayer dollars for the speed cameras.
Anne Robillard, who also lives on East Lakeshore Drive, said when she is backing out of her driveway she has people stand in the middle of the street to wave to drivers to slow down while she backs out because they go too fast around the bend. She also said her neighbor put a “kids crossing” sign out front of their house and it got run over shortly after.
The Selectboard thanked citizens for their comments and concerns and said the speed limit will continue to be evaluated.