Speeding in town irking residents

MONT VERNON – People driving too fast have the residents of some of the town’s back roads concerned about safety – for themselves, their horses and even for the speeders.

Among the problems: The yellow center line of Harwood Road has faded, resident Suzanne Cleverdon told about 30 people gathered to discuss the situation.

“People drive too fast in the middle of the road, especially delivery trucks. You can’t see very well; I’ve seen two accidents.”

The informal information session held Nov. 8 was called by the police department. Cpl. Stephen O’Keefe moderated the session held at the Village School, which lasted about an hour and a half. He asked for suggestions and he got many, ranging from putting up temporary signs asking people to slow down, changing speed limits, increasing police patrols, adding a few stop or yield signs at bad corners, putting in speed bumps, or simply not repairing the road and leaving potholes.

Highway agent Bucky Grugnale, who attended the meeting, said he would talk to the selectmen “about putting painting back into the budget,” but didn’t like speed bumps because of snow plowing.

Residents cited the worst roads, those on which most people drove too fast, and O’Keefe agreed with them. In order, he said, are Route 13 south, especially Mont Vernon Hill, Wilton and Old Wilton roads, the Francestown Turnpike, and Beech Hill Road.

Old Wilton Road is a short cut from Route 13 to the Milford By-pass, which allows trucks and others to avoid the Milford Oval. Residents said they had no problem with the use of the road, “just people driving 50 or 55 on a 35-mile-per-hour road.”

Joanne Draghetti mentioned a traffic study done a few years ago on Old Wilton Road, which counted more than 1,000 cars per day.

Those who use the Francestown Turnpike noted a large number of trucks that consistently exceeded the speed limit. Asked about times, residents said, “all day, every day.”

The current police department, which is still searching for a new chief, consists of two full-time and two part-time officers, O’Keefe said. “The budget allows for 16 hours per day coverage,” and that coverage is rotated through the days and shifts. With a new chief, there will a third full-time person.

O’Keefe read a list of speeding citations issued during the year-to-date: Route 13 south, 302; Old Wilton Road, 25; Francestown Turnpike, 67; Beech Hill Road, 9; Purgatory Road, 2, plus one each on a number of other roads. “And that doesn’t include warnings,” he said. “The worst is Route 13 and Mont Vernon Hill,” he said, where cars have been clocked at well over 70 miles per hour.

“Speed is an issue across the country,” O’Keefe said. “But there are community issues we need to address. We have to let people know that folks just aren’t going to tolerate it.”

Several residents suggested that Mont Vernon “develop a reputation that we are not a community you speed through.”