Traffic group taking specific action steps in Cumberland

Traffic group taking specific action steps in Cumberland

CUMBERLAND – The Cumberland Traffic Management Group has completed studies on several local roadways and recommended a series of changes on some of them.

Updating the Town Council on the town’s new comprehensive traffic-calming initiative last week, Officer Stephen Bannister and Community Outreach Coordinator Sarah King shared how specific steps found in the traffic-calming policy approved by the council in May have been carried out.

King noted that some of the work to improve safety has happened more quickly than spelled out within the policies and procedures, and residents seem to be appreciating the data-driven and transparent approach to the work.

Traffic studies have been completed on Sonny Drive, Hines Road, Waumsett Avenue, North Attleboro Road, Cargill Road, West Wrentham Road, and Hilltop Road.

The following are the outcomes from each, according to information presented to the council:

• West Wrentham Road – Bannister said a pronounced speeding issue was found here and enforcement work found a notable number of violations. The group will be reaching out to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation about options because it is a state road. From July 8 into September, 111 stops were made over 40 hours and 48 traffic posts. West Wrentham represents a case where officials were seeing a large number of complaints on Facebook about speeding. Bannister said data showed “very excessive speeding over there,” with some drivers exceeding 50 mph.

• North Attleboro Road – A study found some speeding, perhaps partially attributable to higher speeds in nearby Massachusetts. The group recommended targeted enforcement. A follow-up weekend study found few enforceable violations, but that there was still an issue. Bannister and Highway Supt. Frank Stowik will be visiting to measure and discuss how striping could be done in the most effective way. From July 8 to Sept. 1, police conducted 40 stops during 38 traffic posts.

• Sonny Drive – The group did not find significant speeding here and decided against recommending permanent speed humps.

• Waumsett Avenue – Some speeding was found here, and the board recommended deployment of a speed trailer and increased enforcement. The group informed residents that the street will be revisited in a few months after a look at enforcement data.

• Hines Road – Police found a speeding issue made worse by a curve in the road. Temporary stop signs were installed at two intersections and additional data is being collected for a recommendation on more permanent stop signs by Nov. 5.

• Cargill Road – There was no identifiable speeding issue here and no actions were recommended. The Highway Department did replace some faded stop signs.

• Hilltop Road – This road also had no overarching identifiable speeding issue, though police were able to identify a couple of consistent speeders at certain times of day and police have discussed targeting the road at those times. Police did find heavy traffic on Hilltop.

King said the striping on North Attleboro Road would not be standard center-of-the-road work, but strategic painting based on proven traffic-calming methods.

Bannister said the town’s traffic-calming effort is all about collecting data and presenting it to residents in an understandable way and using it to drive decisions.

King said members are trying to be as creative and efficient as possible, gathering data before coming to the council about more permanent solutions.

Some significant findings reinforced by the traffic-calming initiative so far are that the town has quite a few stop signs that are not backed by an ordinance, making them unenforceable, and that the posted speed limit on some streets (15 mph, in many cases) is not correct, adding to the impression of a bigger problem with speeding than there is.

Bannister said the plan is to leave unenforceable stop signs up but develop a complete list of them to work on making them legitimate going forward.

Answering a question from Councilor Bob Shaw on the inaccurate speed limits, King said the group hasn’t decided on a game plan for them as of now.

Bannister said stop signs have been put up with “utmost safety precautions in mind,” and none were installed for no reason.