Speeding — it’s a perennial topic at Charlotte Selectboard meetings. And just like perennial plants, this discussion may go dormant, but it will sprout up again.
The subject of speeding and dangerous roads surfaced at the Monday, Sept. 26, selectboard meeting. As the meeting started there were around 20 people attending, either in-person or online, but 30 minutes in, when the public comments portion began, attendance had almost doubled. The overwhelming majority had come to comment on speeding.
Eric Finley told the board the town has been talking for two years about getting flashing lights, radar, speed studies, speed bumps, signs or something to get cars to slow down on Greenbush Road. The number of children living in the area has grown, including his own four children under 5 years old.
“When I drive into Shelburne, I know that if I go over the speed limit, I’m going to get pulled over,” Finley said. “In Charlotte, no one really cares because there’s no one looking, there’s no one checking the speed of anybody.”
“I get passed four days a week going 25,” Finley said. “Getting passed on my own road going 25 sucks.”
Carla Hunter, who also lives on Greenbush, came with a petition signed by 36 residents who live within less than a mile of each other. The petitioners implored the selectboard to do something to enforce speed limits on their street to protect other drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.
“Past efforts in the town to study and calm traffic have been solely symbolic in nature and have failed to lead to enforcement of the 25-mile-an-hour speed limit and adherence to stop signs,” Hunter said, reading the petition.
Cars, trucks, buses and delivery vehicles regularly speed on Greenbush Road, sometimes going twice the 25 mph speed limit, Jessie Wegman wrote in a letter his wife Kyra Wegman read because he was out of town.
“I’ve often felt like I live next to an airstrip and not a country road,” Wegman wrote. “The problem is that Charlotte spends no money on law enforcement.”
He suggested the money saved on a police force might be invested in radar speed signs, speed tables or something that would reduce speeding.
Ken Spencer walks Greenbush Road picking up litter to Shelburne and to Ferrisburgh almost weekly. With speed limits of 25, 35 and 45 mph on that road, it’s confusing where the speed limit changes.
“Perhaps we have a problem with all the varying speeds on the road,” Spencer said.
School buses won’t drop her children off at the Old Brick Store anymore, Damaris Herlihy said, because it’s too dangerous for them to cross the road to their home.
“That’s crazy. It should be safe for our kids to get off a bus there and expect people to stop and let kids get off safely,” she said.
The issue of pedestrian safety is particularly personal for King Milne, who was hit by a vehicle several years ago while jogging at the intersection. He was also concerned about the speed of emergency vehicles returning to the fire and rescue station after emergency calls.
Kendal Frost lives nearby on Ferry Road and said she had felt safer jogging when she lived in Burlington than she does in Charlotte.
Juliann Phelps said 10 years ago she had written a letter to the town about speeding. She also pointed out that, on every route entering Charlotte from a major road, the speed limit goes up 10 mph.
Board chair Jim Faulkner told the audience they had gotten the board’s attention. “We’re going to be hard pressed not to pay attention to this.”
The board agreed it would be on the agenda in two weeks. The next regularly scheduled selectboard meeting is Monday, Oct. 10.
Safety on Route 7
A request for a safety study of Route 7 had come before the selectboard at its previous meeting. Town administrator Dean Bloch said he planned to talk to the state to see about getting a study. He also plans to talk to the sheriff to see if they can provide more enforcement there.
Since it is a state highway, the town doesn’t have much authority and this is pretty much all it can do, Faulkner said.
Safety at Charlotte Central School
The board recently has been talking about what can be done to make Charlotte Central School safer from speeding vehicles.
Faulkner advocated for making the section of Hinesburg Road in front of the school into a school zone, which it is not now, and dropping the speed limit from 30 mph to 25 for the whole school day, instead of just during drop off and pick up times in the morning and afternoon.
“We are looking at the flashing lights. That’s something we have to coordinate with the neighbors as well,” he said.
Board member Lewis Mudge said all of the board members including himself have been saying that installing flashing lights is “tricky,” but when he’s been questioned about why, he doesn’t know the answer.
Some people don’t want a flashing light outside their house, board member Frank Tenney said.
Taking actions about the safety issues at the school were not on the agenda, board member Matt Krasnow said. He supports installing signs and dropping the speed limit, but pointed out the board is not supposed to vote on issues that aren’t on the agenda and which the public hasn’t been warned about. People are supposed to know when issues are going to be voted on, so they have the opportunity to voice their opinion.
“I don’t think we need to discuss it anymore. It seems like we’re ready to move forward. I just think we can’t because it hasn’t been warned,” he said.
The board agreed to put it on an upcoming agenda.
Safety on Wings Point Road
Denis Durling, who lives on McNeil Cove Road on Wings Point, spoke during the public comments about the many trucks that come speeding down Ferry Road headed to the ferry and miss the turn to the left shortly before the ferry.
She said often speeding trucks fishtail when they hit Wings Point Road and it changes from pavement to dirt road, so signs warning of the turn are needed.
Durling said her neighbor was almost killed by a truck while walking here.
She said it is ludicrous the speed limit here is 50 and more signs warning of the impending perpendicular turn are needed. The town did a study in 2020, and she brought this up at the selectboard two years ago. But nothing has been done.