New traffic board seeks temporary stop signs

New traffic board seeks temporary stop signs

CUMBERLAND – A study of a dangerous blind curve on Hines Road has found that while data points were lower than expected, the area has other considerations that need to be taken into account, including a high number of collisions and rollovers over the past decade and difficult conditions for pulling out of driveways.

Cumberland Officer Stephen Bannister, speaking as chairman of the new Cumberland Traffic Management Group last Friday, June 26, told virtual attendees that it is the recommendation of the group and the Police Department to move forward with traffic-calming measures in this “defined area of influence” between 90 and 138 Hines Road.

Bannister has deployed the STRESS program (Strategic Traffic Radar Enforcement for Safer Streets) to the area. There had been 8 hours, 29 minutes of radar posts between June 15 and June 26, resulting in 29 vehicle stops. Bannister said officers were already beginning to notice the traffic slow down after sitting in the area consistently for more than a week.

The Traffic Management Group including Bannister, Highway Supt. Frank Stowik and Community Outreach Coordinator Sarah King was formed through a Town Council resolution in May to begin fielding and analyzing resident complaints to determine steps to address traffic and speeding problems. Policies are meant to take the ambiguity out of the process and for the Police Department to collect real data when determining traffic-calming measures instead of just listening to the loudest complaints.

As it turns out, despite complaints on Hines of drivers routinely going 50 mph, data showed that of 11,866 cars counted this month, only 12 vehicles were traveling 40 mph or more and one of those was a police cruiser responding to a fire. Bannister looked for patterns and did not find it was the same person speeding at the same times of day.

Bannister noted that the group has worked closely with District 3 Councilor Lisa Beaulieu on the effort and were planning to continue to monitor Hines. The next idea is to install temporary three-way stop signs on Hines at both Pequot Avenue and Waumsett Avenue, which will help slow traffic at the top and bottom of the hill and create safer conditions. Also planned are electronic signs that state what a driver’s specific dollar fine would be for going a certain speed.

The new measures will be implemented soon so to be in place for expected traffic increases on Hines because of the latest water line project on Diamond Hill Road. Data will continue to be collected to show whether changes are working.

Other contributing factors to issues on Hines Road include having no sidewalks, more pedestrians, a blind corner, and a hill, said Bannister.

Signage to alert drivers to the new stop signs has come in. A variable message trailer will also be deployed to the area.

To help with traffic-calming measures, the Traffic Management Group will go to the Town Council with a temporary stop sign ordinance allowing the group to put up temporary stop signs for a pre-determined period of time without having to get each one approved by the council. If the signs were to stay up permanently, the sign placement would have to go to the council for approval.

Data collected after the stop signs are placed on Hines will show whether measures are working in the way they are intended to.

Hines Road residents thanked the group for taking action and for agreeing that their concerns are valid. Of the nearly 12,000 cars passing over 10 days, the average speed was 29 mph., which, combined with other factors, make Hines an important target for improved safety, according to Bannister.

Also at last Friday’s meeting, the committee announced that a data collection box will go up this week on the cut-through North Attleboro Road. Resident Kelley Gardner described “incredible” speeds on the road, while resident Christine Stephens described motorists speeding around the curve.

After data collection on North Attleboro Road will be deployment of the STRESS Program, said Bannister. The department made 36 motor vehicle stops during 37 traffic post deployments over 21 hours.

Councilor Bob Shaw said last Friday’s meeting, the third of the committee, was the first he knew about, and said he would have liked a heads-up about a prior meeting where the board decided against installing permanent speed humps on Sonny Drive after temporary ones were placed last year. He said having information from that meeting would have been helpful as he heard from upset residents. King said council members will be provided with the Zoom meeting link.

Beaulieu suggested that the group might also want to provide updates to the council on the petitions it hears.

On Sonny Drive, Bannister said that just because the board decided against speed humps based on very low traffic numbers and general lack of speeding doesn’t mean police won’t seek to address complaints. He said some neighbors told police that two drivers regularly speed on the road at a specific time each day. An officer was sent to the area at the time and was able to apprehend the speeders.