ATTLEBORO — Mayor Paul Heroux and Police Chief Kyle Heagney aim to take on a speeding problem that they say is quickly getting worse on city streets.
Heroux told The Sun Chronicle that in addition to his proposed speed hump ordinance, he and the chief are considering the use of permanent radar monitors on heavily traveled streets and the establishment of a traffic unit in the police department.
“Speeding is one of the biggest complaints I get from residents,” Heroux said in an email to The Sun Chronicle.
“It is an area I am working with the police chief, Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District, DPW and residents to effectively address. It is both a safety issue and a quality of life issue.”
Heagney said the ever-growing number of motor vehicles on city streets is exacerbating the problem.
“The city is getting more crowded, but the roadways are staying the same,” he said. “The amount of complaints we’re getting is escalating.”
Sometimes motorists try to avoid more congested streets and cut through otherwise quiet neighborhoods to get somewhere quicker, and usually they don’t slow down to do it.
“The people who use those streets may not understand how much the quality of life and quiet enjoyment of the neighborhood is affected,” Heagney said.
The chief fully supports the proposed speed hump ordinance, which would lay out rules for where and when the “traffic calming” devices can be installed.
Humps are not the same as bumps.
They are not as jarring, but still require motorist to slow down.
At a recent public hearing Heagney said he loves speed humps and pot holes because they are about the only things that slow drivers down.
The trial installation of humps on Claflin Street last year documented a marked reduction in speeds.
A similar trial on May Street this year showed a “slight” reduction in speed, according to SRPEDD, which conducted the study.
Heagney said the results of that study may have been skewed by the placement of the humps and the fact that there were spaces in the humps that allowed motorists to avoid them.
The spaces were needed to allow fire apparatus to get through the area quickly. The fire department often uses May Street to get to incidents on Route 1.
In any event, he and the mayor want to go beyond the speed humps, which cannot be used on main roads.
What could be used are permanent radar installations that would display the speed of a motorist and, if it’s excessive, a blue light would flash, Heagney said.
The radar boxes cost about $2,000 each.
Heroux and Heagney came up with a list of roads on which the radars may be used.
That list includes Tiffany, West, Lindsey, Locust, Holden, Wilmarth and Steere streets along with Oakhill, Richardson and Robinson avenues and Rathbun Willard Drive.
The radar could not photograph the motor vehicle or relay data to issue tickets.
It would only warn drivers they’re going to fast.
“It’s helpful for drivers to understand how fast they are truly going,” Heagney said.
The mayor and Heagney both support the development of a traffic unit within the police department which would concentrate all efforts on traffic control.
“To keep up with the complaints, we need to start a traffic unit too,” Heagney said.
Heroux said the unit could become a reality fairly soon because the city has the ability to “grow its full-time employees by about three or four.”
“Kyle and I are working out the details about that right now,” he said.
“We have a couple ideas about how to shift staff around as well as hire new officers each year.”
The council closed a public hearing on the “speed hump ordinance” last month and Diana Holmes, chairwoman of the ordinance committee, said she hopes to vote it out of committee at the next committee meeting, which is a week from Tuesday.