October 24, 2014

Traffic study finds few speeders in Brennan Woods subdivision

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Town still plans measures to slow vehicles

By Tom Gresham
Observer staff

A recent traffic study suggests vehicle speeds might not be out of control in the Brennan Woods neighborhood, countering the claims of some residents. However, the study will not impact town plans to install traffic calming measures in the neighborhood.

The study, which took place earlier this month, showed the vast majority of vehicles traveled at speeds between 23 mph and 30 mph on the Brennan Woods’ roads. Of the 542 vehicles tracked on five different roads, a total of just 28 were measured at a speed of at least 30 mph. Two vehicles on Hanon Drive were measured at 38 mph — the highest speed recorded.

Hanon Drive had the highest average speed in the development — 25.96 mph. Brennan Woods Drive, which attracts the most traffic, had an average speed of 25.04 mph.

“I’m surprised they were that low,” said Neil Boyden, Williston’s public works director.

Boyden said the vehicles were measured with a radar gun in an unmarked car. He said the method of measurement should have produced an accurate view of the nature of traffic on the roads.

However, the study took place during non-peak traffic hours — a requirement when developing speed limits, according to Boyden — and “the speeds would more than likely have been higher during peak hours,” he said.

Boyden said the speed study was not a comprehensive measurement of speeds, but it is “the best tool we have.”

Scott Hubbard, president of the Brennan Woods Homeowners Association, said he was not aware of the study, but noted that the neighborhood’s traffic problems stem from a small minority of drivers.

“I will say that (in my opinion) many people do abide by the speed limit when driving through the neighborhood,” Hubbard said. “But that doesn’t change the fact that the few people that do drive very fast are causing problems by putting children at risk.”

Boyden said the result of the speed study would not affect plans to implement the traffic calming planned for Brennan Woods, noting the neighborhood still would benefit from calming measures.

Boyden said the recorded speeds appear to support a 25 mph speed limit. He said other factors will be considered when the town develops a speed limit, including the number of curb cuts, the number of pedestrians and the proximity of driveways.

Snyder Companies, the developer of Brennan Woods, still owns the roads. Town officials have said they will not accept the roads as municipally owned until Snyder has completed a checklist of improvements that the town does not want to fund. Once the town owns the road, it can enforce a speed limit and implement its larger traffic calming steps.

Boyden said he met with Snyder officials last week and much of the checklist has been completed. He expects the town to assume control of the neighborhood’s roads this summer.

Two Brennan Woods residents have told the Selectboard in recent months about excessive vehicle speeds in their neighborhood. In May, Fred Reiner said the combination of excessive speeds and a high volume of children meant a tragedy was “not a question of if but when.” This month, Stephen Casale, with his two children in tow, spoke to the Selectboard to highlight “the tremendous problem” of speeding at Brennan Woods.

Also, in a letter to Boyden this month, Hubbard noted, “We have many homeowners that are very concerned about this topic and ask often.”

Hubbard’s letter was a notice to the town that the neighborhood homeowners association formally accepted the traffic calming measures the town has planned for Brennan Woods. The measures include a four-way stop at the intersection of Brennan Woods Drive and Hanon Drive, and three speed tables, which are longer, flatter versions of speed bumps.

Boyden said the town would move to install the stop signs at Brennan Woods Drive and Hanon Drive as early as this week. Because the cost is minimal, he said the town is willing to set up the signs before assuming ownership of the road. On the other hand, the speed tables will cost approximately $10,000, according to Boyden. He said the tables could be in place this fall.

Hubbard said the traffic calming measures “will at the very least raise awareness.”

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