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Lakeside residents in Wrentham demand action on speeders

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Lakeside residents in Wrentham demand action on speedersWRENTHAM – Forest Grove Avenue, which winds around Mirror Lake, is a narrow and curvy road where houses, many of them former summer cottages, are packed fairly close together.

The scenic road, as is the case with other streets in town, has been a source of complaints about speeding from residents.

About a dozen Forest Grove residents recently submitted a petition to selectmen asking for steps to be taken to curtail the speeding they say has been a major problem on a road where many children live.

“There have been a number of incidents on our road, especially along the straightaway at the bottom of the hill coming from Shears Street,” said residents Gian and Sarah Sachdev, who led the petition drive.

The incidents include vehicles accelerating after that curvy hill, mailboxes being struck, a utility pole being hit, and an accident involving someone backing out of their driveway.

“Forest Grove Avenue is a narrow, heavily residential road” and has “many curves and blind spots as the road continues around Mirror Lake,” the Sachdevs said.

Residents also point out the road is a local school bus route and is used by many for walking, running and biking.

“Multiple neighbors have observed distracted drivers using their cellphone while on the road, particularly along the straightaway, where drivers are more likely to assume they don’t need to pay as close attention to the road in front of them,” the Sachdevs added.

Part of the problem was there were no speed limit signs on the road until recently, and residents asked the town to survey the road and determine a safe, appropriate speed limit.

The town has just put up 30 mph speed limit signs, the speed limit for “thickly settled” roads. Residents, though, had hoped to see the speed limit posted at 20 mph.

“That seems fast,” Selectmen Chairman Charles Kennedy said of 30 mph for a narrow road with no sidewalks.

Yellow “Slow Children” and “Caution Children” signs have been up for a while.

Police also have used their new portable speed monitoring sign on the road, which is much smaller than the ones police departments use on trailers along roadways. The new sign was recently put up on a utility pole on Forest Grove Avenue and is being used on other roads.

“It flashes when it detects a speeder and is quite effective in those instances,” the police department said. One feature of the sign is it also can go into “stealth” mode, where it discretely records speeds.

“We stepped up traffic enforcement on Forest Grove Ave., along with the speed radar sign, and we have not seen an increase in speeding complaints,” Police Chief James Anderson said.

The radar sign was put on stealth mode for the first week and showed 2,694 vehicles passed by. During the weekdays there was an average speed of 26 mph, with 85 percent averaging 31 mph. On the weekend, there was an average speed of 27 mph, with 83 percent traveling 30 mph or less. The highest speeding ticket issued was for 36 mph, according to police.

There have been nine motor vehicle crashes on Forest Grove Avenue in the past 20 years but three since Memorial Day, police say.

Residents of Madison Street, a busy cut-through from Route 1 to Route 140, have recently complained about speeding as well.

“They are both residential areas,” Town Administrator William Ketcham said of Forest Grove and Madison. “I don’t think many people realize” the speed limit is 30 mph and not 35 mph or higher.

“We are working with the DPW to post 30 mph signs on Madison Street as parts of that roadway are thickly settled,” Anderson said.

The new radar sign was purchased in July for $3,147.

“Since we have purchased the radar sign we have received several requests for the sign in different neighborhoods,” Anderson said.

And since information about the new sign was posted on the police department’s social media sites, numerous residents have commented about speeding on their streets.

“Most of the time, the speeding problem is more perception than reality. The sign tends to prove that when you’re standing in your driveway or walking along your street, cars ‘appear’ to be going much faster than they are,” police said, noting when police catch speeders, they are often residents who live on the street or in the neighborhood.

“It is not a perception problem, I promise you that, and I would love to see some change to the mind-set of drivers on this road,” Patricia Trundley Houlihan of West Street said on the police Facebook page.

Chuck Booth of Thurston Street said vehicles heading towards Route 1 “fly down the hill” trying to beat the traffic signal on that main road.

Susan Seymour said Chestnut Street is a “regular speedway.”

And Sarah Fiano Lombard suggested posting the speed sign on South Street downtown to Wampum Corner.



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