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Middlebury eyes traffic calming on three roads

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury officials are seeking public feedback to come up with some traffic calming measures for three problem roads in town.
At issue is a traffic calming study coordinated by consultants Dubois & King, thanks to a grant through the Addison County Regional Planning Commission. The town chose, as study subjects, three different examples of local roads — and not necessarily those that see the most traffic, explained Middlebury selectboard Chairman Dean George.
“All three have issues that come up from time to time,” George said of the three roads being studied: South Street, Seymour Street and Halladay Road.
The town launched the traffic calming study late last month with a “public involvement meeting” at the municipal building. It’s a gathering that gave consultants, town officials and neighbors a chance to lay out the challenges of each road, along with possible solutions to those problems.
This isn’t the first time that South Street has been the subject of a traffic study. Neighbors along that street — many of whom have young children — have long complained about speeding vehicles. South Street is also used by emergency vehicles traveling to and from Porter Medical Center.
Neighbors have proposed such measures as signs, speed bumps and a narrowing of the travel lanes as possible tactics for reducing speed levels on a road that is already posted at 25 mph. South Street is fairly wide and bordered with parking in various locations. Some residents have argued that the street could easily shed some of those parking spaces, which they say are rarely completely full.
Police Chief Tom Hanley has said South Street should have a separate lane for cyclists, rather than having them share the road with vehicles. Hanley has also noted that South Street was not engineered for a 25 mph limit, and that vehicle speeds are largely in the 35 mph-range right now.
Some past traffic study suggestions have included road bump-outs and islands to encourage slower speeds on South Street. But those measures tend to be quite costly, officials noted.
Middlebury Regional EMS officials report that ambulances are able to drive the posted limit on South Street on around 40 percent of their calls.
Meanwhile, Seymour Street residents have been concerned about speeding and increasing truck traffic that has been coming into the neighborhood via Exchange Street. And Halladay Road neighbors, for their part, have noted increasing speeds — particularly from vehicles seeking short-cuts off of Route 7 South. Speeding tends to occur during the morning and afternoon commutes, which is bad news for pedestrians and bikers who have no special lane or sidewalk on which to seek refuge.
Dubois & King will continue to work with town officials and neighbors to come up with a package of recommendations to alleviate speeding on the three Middlebury roads. Then it will be a matter of selecting the most viable solutions and finding money to put them into place, George noted. It is possible some of the measures could be incorporated into the town’s fiscal year 2017 budget, he added.
“Some of these things could be relatively inexpensive and done in-house,” George said.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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