BARRE — Plans to test drive some traffic-calming ideas on three city streets have likely slid into next year thanks to the arrival of wintry weather.
Though there is no vocal constituency for the “speed tables” Public Works Director Bill Ahearn has proposed on Ayers and Circle streets, several Merchant Street residents have lobbied for a solution to what they claim is a chronic speeding problem in their neighborhood.
With some limited exceptions, Ahearn said plans for all three city streets may have to wait.
“The weather has been a major interference,” he said.
Ahearn said Tuesday plans for all three streets were initially delayed by the arrival of icy weather earlier this month and further compromised by recent snowfall and the accompanying drop in temperature.
“We expected it to be difficult, but we didn’t expect we’d have frozen ground,” he said.
Ahearn said he doubted speed tables, which require both asphalt and favorable weather conditions, could be installed this year and even if there were a run of balmy weather that caused a thaw long enough to allow fresh asphalt to adhere to existing blacktop. He said he’d think twice about installing a new impediment that could be masked by snow and surprise drivers.
“At this point it’s probably best to wait,” he said a week after the city’s Transportation Advisory Committee blessed both locations, as well as the dimensions of the speed tables he has proposed for two of the major approaches to Spaulding High School.
Both speed tables — one on Ayers Street between Kirk and Murray streets and the other in the vicinity of 90 Circle St. — would take up most of the roadways. Each would have 6-foot approaches on both ends leading up to a 14-foot-long elevated “table” that will be 3.5 inches above the road surface.
The super-sized speed bumps are a traffic-calming device Ahearn believes could work in other locations around Barre.
One of those locations could be on Merchant Street, where residents complain too much traffic travels too fast despite a four-way stop at the awkward intersection of Merchant, Midway and Warren streets.
Ahearn said a speed table might eventually make sense at that location, and the city is exploring a change that would eliminate the Midway Street outlet onto Merchant Street by extending Sheridan Street to Palanquin Drive. The contemplated bypass will at least temporarily be created as part of a utility project planned for next year and could become permanent.
In the short term, Ahearn said the weather has forced him to modify his plans for Merchant Street, where recently collected data clocked traffic traveling up to 52 mph — more than twice the posted limit. A full 8%, he said, was driving 35 mph or more.
Ahearn said he still plans to bulk up two existing crosswalks — one at the Midway Street intersection and another about 350 feet closer to Wellington Street — in coming weeks. Make-shift “bulbous” created with precast pieces of concrete will be installed on either side of the road in both locations with signs signaling the presence of the crosswalks.
Ahearn said plans to install a third crosswalk, at the intersection of Merchant and Wellington streets, have been delayed until spring.
Responding to concerns raised by Merchant Street residents in September, Ahearn said a directional sign for Route 14 that is posted at the intersection of Wellington and Franklin streets will be removed and he didn’t rule out installing a digital speed sign on Merchant Street, though that might also wait until spring.
A number of other ideas have been suggested and have yet to be seriously vetted by the Transportation Advisory Committee.