Council looks to address speeding on town roadways

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BURRILLVILLE – Resident Dennis Flynn said that more than once, he’s had to jump out of the way on Steere Farm Road to avoid getting hit by a car.

“We have dozens of joggers on that route every day and there’s no place for them to get out of the way from those speeding down that road,” Flynn said. “Someone’s going to get hit.”

The issue was brought before the Town Council last week by Councilor Stephen Rawson, who asked Col. Stephen Lynch and Town Manager Michael Wood to come up with ideas on how to address the issue.

“One of the major complaints I’ve gotten over the past several years – all over town – East Wallum Lake Road, Spring Lake Road, Steere Farm – everywhere – is about excessive speeding,” Rawson said.

“People have no patience today for anything,” said Rawson. “I see them stopping people on a regular basis, but I think we have to take it one step further.”

Lynch said the police department does partner with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation for overtime enforcement details, and keeps a “hot spot,” list of areas where speeding is an issue.

“It’s a never-ending battle,” Lynch said. “I don’t want you to think this is new to us or that we’re sitting on our hands by any means.”

Rawson suggested a public information campaign, where the town addresses residents through advertising, and officials go into schools to educate students.

“Everyone was a teenager once and we thought we were invincible, and we’d never hurt ourselves, and that would only happen to someone else,” said Rawson.

Rawson said that three months after he graduated high school he hit a pole on Cherry Farm Road and fractured his neck.

“That was a wake-up call – spending three months in the hospital pretty much flat on my back. My superman attitude changed quickly at that point,” he said.

Resident Dennis Flynn addresses the council.

Flynn said that in the past, he’s had to jump onto a wall, and dive over the guardrail on Steere Farm to escape traffic.

“I’m requesting the presence of a cruiser once in awhile,” he said.

Rawson noted that the problem is particularly dangerous on Mowry Street by the bike path, where kids often come out on bikes.

“Some of those kids were nearly hit several times,” the councilor said. “We would not want to see the tragedy of anyone being hit in town because of speeding.”.

The councilor said he would also like to see the police department look at secondary roads that are used for short cuts by 18 wheelers, and consider adding weight limits.

Lynch noted that the department does currently make presentations in schools.

“In no means do I mean to criticize the department at all,” said Rawson. “I’m not exactly sure to what degree we can do anything to make a difference, but if we can do anything, we’d be remiss if we didn’t look into those possibilities.”

Suggestions to address the problem included adding flashing signs noting drivers’ speed on some roadways.

“It think that that thing wakes you up,” said Councilor Raymond Trinque of the signs. “I think that’s an effective tool.”

Councilor Dennis Anderson said speeding is a problem for drivers of all ages.

“It’s not just kids,” Anderson said.

Wood said he will work on the issue with public safety, and come back before the council with ideas.

“As much as we train and enforce, we also send our people and train them on how to do death notifications because of this,” said Lynch.

A motion to “look into the possibility of how we can slow down traffic,” was passed unanimously.

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