Amherst probes traffic hot spots

> Public hearings set for debate on installation of signage

AMHERST – Selectmen are holding public hear­ings on whether to in­stall speed limit signs on Limbo Lane, where Police Chief Mark Reams said people are driving as fast as 50 mph.

Since the new medical

center opened at the end of the street, residents have complained about speeding, he said. When there is no sign indicating a speed limit, it’s enforced at 35 mph, and the town’s Highway Safety Commit­tee recommends 30 mph for Limbo Lane.

The second of two speed limit sign hearings will be at the selectmen’s meet­ing on Tuesday, July 12.

A traffic problem that won’t be addressed so easily is Courthouse Road, where the new playground and commu­nity garden called Josh­ua’s Park opened this month. People are park­ing on the street, some­times impeding traffic.

The park’s parking lot was undersized from the beginning, Reams said.

In the fall, the town will take over ownership, and selectmen talked about the possible need for a stop sign or a sidewalk, or both.

Sally Wilkins, chair­woman of the Amherst Land Trust, the group that took the lead in the park planning, said in an email that the option of enlarging the lot "does exist, as was discussed a year ago at the Planning Board hearings, if there continues to be a prob­lem. … However since the already-designed parking lot hasn’t been finished yet, it seems premature to expand it already."

As for the question of a street parking ban, she said that’s a step "I am sure the selectboard would like to avoid since there are so many other places in the Village where on-street parking causes the neigh­bors heartburn."

The Highway Safety Committee also looked at the intersection of Man­chester and Mack Hill roads, collecting data af­ter the bridge reopened, and decided against rec­ommending another stop sign, Reams said.

"No data suggests we should have a third stop sign to make a three-way stop," he said.

The national manual for traffic control devices has a threshold of 6,000 vehicles a day for a three-way stop, and that intersection has only about 1,300, he said. Crash data doesn’t support an extra sign, either, with only three accidents in 10 years, two of them snow-and slush-related. And the average speed was clocked at 23 mph, consistent with the posted limit of 25, Reams said.