Published in the October 28, 2016 edition
WAKEFIELD — After two motor vehicle related fatalities in three days, officials want to do something — anything, really — to slow traffic down in Melrose.
Monday night, the aldermen’s Legal and Legislative Committee dealt with an order filed by Ward 3 Alderman Frank Wright calling for 25 mile an hour speed limit on just about all streets in the city. The committee approved moving it to the full Board of Aldermen, which meets next on Nov. 14.
Up until recently, state Department of Transportation officials needed comprehensive traffic studies and other analyses before agreeing to change a posted speed limit on any community street. Now, with the recent passage of the Municipal Modernization Act, local authorities now have much more control over the thoroughfares in their own cities and towns.
“People are driving too fast and at some point it’s their responsibility to slow down,” Mayor Rob Dolan said last week. He stressed that the city would utilize two strategies to achieve that end: education and neighborhood pressure, which will include aggressively enforcing the new speed limits.
Wright said that as Ward 3’s alderman, “the number one issue I hear from constituents is their concern for speeding on neighborhood streets. In 2009, I filed legislation to create ‘traffic safety zones’ allowing speed limits to be reduced to 20 miles per hour near parks, playgrounds and senior living facilities. Adopting this provision of the Municipal Modernization Act is a necessary next step to bring traffic speeds down across the city. The provision provides another tool for police to be able to enhance public safety and enforce speeding laws in Melrose.”
Dolan referred to adoption of the provision as a “no brainer.”
“Speeding is our number one public safety issue at the moment. Combined with our commitment to increase enforcement on neighborhood streets and directed patrols, we will be able to target areas of the city that are problematic.”
City officials plan to send the aldermen a funding order for additional solar flashing speed panels similar to the one recently installed on Howard Street.
The city plans to launch a public awareness campaign to alert drivers that reckless behavior behind the wheel is not OK. “We are a densely populated community full of active residents ranging from young families to the elderly who deserve to be able to walk, bike and drive in a safe environment,” Dolan added.
Chief Mike Lyle said Melrose Police are constantly looking at the challenges posed by more vehicles on our local streets. Using discretion is always key but this provision would enhance the capabilities of the Melrose Police to properly enforce.”