The Transportation Safety Advisory Committee (TSAC) met on Sept. 2 via Zoom, where it voted unanimously to reduce the town speed limit.
In attendance were committee members Police Chief Terence Delehanty, Fire Chief Paul Flanagan, DPW Director Steve Calla and Parking Hearing Officer Michael Diluiso; Town Councilor Rich Ferrino; chair of the former Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) Julia Wallerce; Admin. Asst. to the Town Manager Laurisa Wojcik and members of the public.
The Town Manager and the Town Council put items on the TSAC meeting agenda to allow the public to weigh in. TSAC then gives recommendations to the Town Manager to present to the Council.
On the agenda was a motion from the Town Council to decrease the maximum speed in Winthrop from 30MPH to 25MPH in accordance with the provisions of the Municipal Modernization Act.
“People are not slowing down,” said Councilor Ferrino, who introduced the motion. “They’re not adhering to the speed limit. It’s time we address this issue.”
Wallerce mentioned that TAC, which was absorbed by TSAC, made the same suggestion and received strong community support.
“Speed kills, plain and simple,” she said. “I would love to see Winthrop embrace the state’s Vision Zero Coalition, and this is a small way to do that.”
The Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition is a campaign aimed at minimizing traffic injuries and deaths across the state. Wallerce mentioned that street design was also critical in achieving this goal.
Caller Peter Gill supported the decrease and suggested that the new limit be posted at both town entrances.
Caller Heather Graziani said the new limit would make the town safer for her children and contribute to making Winthrop a more walkable and bikeable town.
Caller John Stanley expressed his support of the motion.
“I walk the town frequently and my safety is threatened,” he told the committee. “The [speeding] is horrendous coming down Shirley Street. The speed limit is totally ignored.”
Chief Flanagan said lowering the maximum speed was “a no brainer”, but he first wanted to hear from the police department, since it would require more work on their part.
“If folks won’t go 30, they sure as heck don’t want to go 25,” he said.
Chief Delehanty also called the measure a “no brainer”, but added that electronic signs and initial enforcement would require additional funding.
Director Calla reported that all speed limit signs would need to be replaced, at a cost of about $100 per sign. As an alternative to electronic speeding signs that require a power source, he suggested the more affordable solar-powered signs that flash a driver’s current rate of speed.
“I’m in favor of reducing the speed limit,” he said. “People are speeding everywhere.”
When the matter was brought to a vote, TSAC voted unanimously to decrease the maximum speed on town roads and to petition the state to do the same on state-owned roads in Winthrop. It will submit the motion to the Town Council. TSAC will submit a second motion to Council to approve the necessary funding to realize the project.
Winthrop is not alone in its goal to minimize speeding. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, cities and towns across the state have reported a spike in traffic fatalities. This is attributed to empty roadways resulting from the almost overnight drop in Americans commuting to and from work.
At the Sept. 2 meeting, TSAC also voted to make the following recommendations to Council: implement 15-minute parking on Shirley St. in the vicinity of Shirley Hardware; amend the Resident Parking Sticker Program; eliminate parking on a portion of South Main St.; install a stop sign at Quincy/Cliff Ave.; and improve traffic and pedestrian safety on Almont, Cross & Locust St.