Some suggestions from last winter’s traffic calming study have been implemented by Bethlehem’s Highway Department in the neighborhoods of Haswell Farms and the Enclave.
Private consultants performed the study in November 2013, following complaints from neighbors about speeding and congested traffic. After the results were presented to the town in February, officials held a public forum to discuss with residents what could be done by the town to help alleviate the issue.
Highway Superintendent Brent Meredith said the actions taken by the town came as a result of the meeting officials had with residents. Over the summer, several crosswalks were painted in the neighborhood to help with pedestrian safety, and two weeks ago, four new radar devices were installed to help drivers better gauge their speed.
“We’re interested to see what comes of these changes,” said Meredith. “I’m anxious to see the data.”
The four radars cost about $3,000 a piece. Each collects data on speed and the volume of vehicles that pass each day.
“The good thing is, they are installed on a semi-permanent mount, so, if necessary, we can remove them and take them to another neighborhood if it’s needed,” said Meredith.
Last year, Supervisor John Clarkson said the town would be willing to spend around $10,000 to find an answer to problem.
Several people said they felt too many people were jogging or letting their kids play in the road, and the speed of cars was fine. Some at the meeting said the number of cars on the roads was the main issue.
The initial thought was people living outside the community had been using the small roads of the two housing developments as short cuts, and people were speeding through to save time.
One of the major traffic problems for the area is the two neighborhoods have only one exit road.
Planning Director Rob Leslie explained last year how more roads are planned, but the developments need to continue growing first. He said the planning board would never approve developments with only one access road because it could create a problem for emergency vehicles, but building-out took longer then expected.
Residents had complained of major traffic problems because of the speeding, and some felt their children were not safe playing outside. A traffic officer and a speed trailer were both set up in the area to monitor the situation.
The study ultimately showed that it was residents from within the Enclave and Haswell Farms who were causing the traffic issues. The data showed many were found to be speeding on Hasgate Drive between Barrington and Reynolds Court, with the highest speeds of 38 mph northbound and 36 mph southbound. The posted speed is 30 mph.
Some solutions to the problems included additional speed limit signs, installing speed humps and painting new lines down the sides of each road to make them feel slimmer and reduce speed.
With such a large number of people, it was hard for participants to decide which option would work best. Some like the idea of speed humps, while others did not want one placed in front of their own homes because they feared the noise would be distracting. Many liked the idea of speed radars, but wanted more than one or a camera attached so speeders could be ticketed.
At the end of the meeting, a large number of people were still not satisfied with the town’s recommendations.
One woman demanded the town should pay to build a new connection road. Others wanted certain roads to be designated one-way streets. This would essentially prevent many Enclave residents from driving though Haswell Farms and vice versa.
Meredith said town officials opted against installing speed humps, not only because some residents were against the idea, but also because they are also inconvenient for the town.
“They become a challenge for us when it’s time to plow, and then they’re another thing we have to try and maintain,” he said.
Data from the traffic radars will be collected in another few weeks, and the results will be announced at that time.