Lincoln hopes to put the brakes on speeders

LINCOLN — People are driving too fast in Lincoln and the town has had enough.
“We have to do something,” selectboard member Ellie Bryant told the Independent. “It’s almost lawless up here.”
Bryant’s main concern, she said, was the town center, where pedestrians cross the streets between school, church, Lincoln General Store and Burnham Hall. The town has installed a painted crosswalk, Bryant said, but it’s been hard to gauge its effectiveness. In December Lincoln will install a pair of solar-powered traffic radar signs, which she hopes will encourage drivers to check their speedometers.
“People speed coming into town and they speed going out of town,” she said, adding that many of the offenders are just passing through.
Resident Don Gale has had firsthand experience with some of these speeders. Over the last three decades at least nine of them have driven off the road onto his property.
“It’s mostly in the winter,” said Gale, who lives on a bend in West River Road, just northwest of Lincoln center. “People go too fast for the conditions, fishtail and end up in the yard.”
One driver was so drunk she kept passing out and couldn’t even tell Gale where she lived, he said. The Vermont State Police later determined that her blood-alcohol content was three times the legal limit of 0.8.
Another driver, stuck in the snow, furiously spun his wheels, trying to get away, even after Gale had offered to pull him out with his truck.
Traffic control? Gale’s all for it, he said.
Lincoln’s maximum speed limit is 35 mph. Nearer the town center, on Quaker Street and on River Road, drivers must slow down to 30.
But who will make drivers keep to that speed?
It’s a question the town hopes to answer soon.
The Lincoln selectboard is exploring the possibility of contracting with the Bristol Police Department, Vermont State Police or Addison County Sheriff’s Department to establish a traffic enforcement presence in the town.
The Bristol selectboard recently authorized its police district chief, Bruce Nason, to discuss a potential contract with the town of Lincoln, but it did so warily.
“We’re short-staffed now,” said Bristol selectboard member Joel Bouvier. “If we’re going to spend another 10 to 12 hours, I’d like to see it in (Bristol) village.”
The town of Lincoln will give Addison County’s new sheriff, Peter Newton, some time to “settle in” before approaching his department about a possible contract, Bryant said. Newton was elected to be sheriff this past Tuesday and won’t officially take over until the end the year.
What sort of contract will emerge remains to be seen, but Bryant said she hopes it will result in a police cruiser parked at various locations in Lincoln, at different times of the day.
As for speed-trap locations, Gale offered one idea.
“They ought to sit in my driveway,” he said. “It’s a great place to catch speeders.”
Reach christopherr@addisonindepenent.com.

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