State police weigh in on town speeding dilemma

Speed limit enforcement in town has been an ongoing contentious issue, and Vermont State Police addressed the matter at a recent Selectboard meeting. Vermont State Police Lt. Garry Scott and Sgt. Matt Daley attended. The town has a traffic enforcement contract with the Vermont State Police.

Mt. Philo Road resident Brian Machanic said there were two multiple-car accidents near his home in recent months, and he lives 150 yards from the town’s speed monitor. His neighbor Brian Slater said he has lived where the road flattens, where cars frequently increase speeds, for more than a decade.

There is an uptick in traffic between 7:30 and 9 a.m., Slater said at the Selectboard meeting. “More than one in 10 are speeding over 70 mph,” he estimated. “Motorists slow down when they see the flashing light of the speed monitor, then they speed up again once past it. If the Vermont State Police can’t prioritize our roads, then is it worth budgeting money for a contract?”

Charlotte’s traffic enforcement contract for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, is $30,210.70. For the coming fiscal year the contract maximum will be $29,711.24.

Lt. Scott said no extra time over the contracted 8.5 hours a week will be added at this time. Patrols will not be increased in Charlotte, since interstate highways are the main priority, he said. Right now the town receives 80 percent of state police enforcement ticket fees, budgeted at $11,500. Ticket revenue received so far in the current fiscal year is over budget at $19,471.

Charlotter King Milne said he and his neighbors have discussed purchasing one or two flashing signs at a cost of $2,500 to $3,500 each. He suggested installing signs, along with a parked police cruiser, near Greenbush Road and Ferry Road as a speeding deterrent.

Lt. Scott said flashing radar signs are effective at first, “then motorists get used to it and they go back to ‘normal’ habits.”

Selectboard Chair Lane Morrison said the town would continue to explore resources. As a possible solution Lt. Scott said the Town of Jericho contracts with the Chittenden County Sheriff’s Department for traffic enforcement services and that some towns have added speed bumps and traffic islands as traffic calming devices. Jericho has implemented both on Skunk Hollow Road, Lt. Scott said.

Contracting with the Sheriff’s Department eight hours a week for six months a year is being considered by the Selectboard, as well as utilizing the town constable to address traffic concerns on Greenbush Road, Spear Street and Mt. Philo Road. Decisions to use one or both of these services is likely, Morrison said. The next meeting for the discussion will be on June 12.