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Windham neighborhood wants speed limit lowered

WINDHAM — Residents in one Windham neighborhood are battling the town and state to reduce their road’s speed limit.

During Monday’s selectmen meeting, town officials and citizens debated the topic at great length. Local police remained skeptical as to whether changing Westchester Road’s 30 mph speed limit to 25 mph would help address the speeding issue.

Town Administrator David Sullivan said the issue has been raised “dozens of time” over the past several years.

Most recently, the Windham Police department conducted a speed survey of the area in response to residents’ concerns.

Police Chief Gerald Lewis said the survey results revealed that 85 percent of motorists on Westchester Road travel at an average speed of 35 miles per hour.

The survey results, among other factors, led members of the town’s highway safety committee to opt against lowering the speed limit earlier this year.

Westchester Road residents Renee and Joshua Cushman told town officials this week that they’re still hoping to see the speed limit lowered.

“We have several young children and we’re just amazed at the speed people drive down our street,” Renee Cushman said.

Her husband added that he’d “like to see a 25 mph speed limit sign posted at the top of the road.”

Chairman Ross McLeod noted that there are several such signs around town but he felt those signs “are a feel good measure” as they’re not legally binding.

“It’s just like putting up a ‘Slow Children’ sign,” he said. “You’re hoping that people will see it and drive slower, but the design of our roadways doesn’t necessarily discourage fast driving.”

Under New Hampshire traffic laws, the speed limit for business and urban residence districts is 30 miles per hour.

After hearing from citizens and town officials, a motion by Selectman Bruce Breton to lower that one road’s speed limit to 25 mph was ultimately approved by fellow board members. However, Lewis stressed that any final decisions on the matter would rest with the state Department of Transportation, since right now a 25 mph speed limit sign isn’t legally enforceable.

“I’m going to enforce a 30 mph limit because that’s what the state says I have to do,” he said. “And when you put signs up that you can’t enforce, those signs can actually do more harm than good because it makes us inconsistent.”

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