downtown plainville

A speed limit sign warns drivers near downtown Plainville.

PLAINVILLE — Town officials want to lower the speed limit through the downtown business district in response to an increasing traffic problem that one resident likened to a “racetrack.”

Selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday night to reduce the limit from 30 to 25 mph on South Street (Route 1A) through the town center. The reduction must be approved by town meeting voters before it takes effect.

It was requested by Police Chief James Alfred, who said the traffic situation has changed dramatically over the last several years.

“Twenty-five is a reasonable speed limit,” he said.

The chief said he would like to see the new speed limit enforced from Lincoln Avenue, just past Route 106 heading south to North Attleboro, to beyond the library.

“There are all the driveways in the center,” Alfred said.

One of them belongs to Ann Galvin, who has lived in her home at 203 South St. for 41 years.

“We have morphed into something I could never have imagined,” Galvin said at the selectmen’s meeting. Traffic can be “dangerous” and a “racetrack” at times, she said, adding that she agreed that 25 mph is a reasonable limit.

“It’s worse and worse,” Galvin said. “There are tremendous amounts of traffic. There are days I can’t get out of my house.”

Asphalt trucks from a plant off Green Street race down the road in early morning hours, she said, noting that police have been cracking down on speeding.

“We are out there stopping them every morning,” Alfred said.

Galvin pointed out there has been a sharp jump in traffic since An Unlikely Story opened at routes 1A and 106, but she emphasized that the bookstore has been a welcome addition.

There have been some recent safety improvements on the stretch of South Street.

There is a new blinking light for fire apparatus and a crosswalk in the area of the new town hall and public safety complex and library.

Residents at town meeting will have the final say on the new speed limit, as they will have to adopt a general bylaw for the change, Town Administrator Jennifer Thompson said.

Other area towns have instituted similar speed limits in their downtowns, Alfred noted.

“It’s not unusual for other municipalities around us,” Thompson said.

The state is eventually expected to implement significant improvements to South Street, such as turning lanes, Alfred said.

“The outlets have impacted South Street tremendously,” Alfred said of Wrentham Village Premium Outlets, which are a few miles up South Street.

“We’re seeing traffic jams on all the highways,” Alfred said. “As a result, people are getting off the highways. That’s the reason why 106, IA, 152” are getting congested.

Stephen Peterson can be reached at 508-236-0377.

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