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Speed limit change coming soon

PUTNEY—Travelers along Westminster West Road may soon notice a change in the speed limit.

After town officials received complaints about speeding on Westminster West Road — especially the stretch between Hickory Ridge Road and West Hill Road — Town Manager Cynthia Stoddard requested the Windham County Sheriff’s Department conduct a traffic study.

Deputy Josh Parro, who patrols Putney, brought his findings to the Selectboard and Stoddard at the Oct. 26 regular Board meeting.

Parro conducted the study himself — twice in the late morning and twice in the early afternoon — and recorded the speed of 100 vehicles, noting whether they were trucks or cars and in which direction they were traveling.

The deputy noted he used a personal, unmarked car “to give people in the community and those traveling on Westminster West Road the idea that there’s no police presence around,” he said, because “the theory is, they’ll go the speed they feel they should be traveling on that stretch of road."

Parro also gave the road a test of his own. In his police cruiser, he drove between 25 and 50 mph “to see what feels right,” and what allowed him adequate stopping time and precluded frequent braking.

Parro reminded town officials “the study is a necessity for changing the speed limit,” per state statute.

“The biggest concern I found is, if you’re traveling south from Hickory Ridge Road... [and] you’re heading into the school zone, [the speed limit] goes directly from 40 [mph] to 25 [mph],” Parro said, adding that he has heard numerous complaints about the abrupt change.

Parro suggested a more gradual change — from 40 mph to 35 or 30, before becoming 25 mph in the school zone.

The Selectboard directed Stoddard to begin the process of lowering the speed limit on Westminster West Road between Hickory Ridge Road and West Hill Road to 30 mph.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #384 (Wednesday, November 23, 2016). This story appeared on page B6.

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