A report from an ad hoc committee on improving traffic conditions in Milton was well received by town council Aug. 16. It will undergo further review to refine the recommendations that were made to reduce speed, manage truck traffic and improve pedestrian safety.
The 148-page report was sent on to the Milton Streets, Sidewalks and Parks Committee, and Chair Jack Bushey said at its Aug. 17 meeting that review would probably start in October.
The Traffic Calming Ad Hoc Committee was formed in May to identify challenges and problems within the town’s transportation system and put forth possible solutions. The committee was chaired by Councilwoman Randi Meredith, and it held 11 meetings in addition to doing a town-wide survey and eight walk audits that allowed citizens and committee members to observe traffic issues around town.
The highlights of the committee’s report are six recommendations.
For speed reduction, the report calls for increased use of radar signs that monitor speed, reducing the speed limit from 25 to 20 mph for cars and 15 mph for trucks with more than two axles, and placing more speed limit signs around town.
To limit truck traffic, the report recommends alternate route signs to bring as few trucks in town as possible. Trucks exiting from Dogfish Head Brewery onto Cave Neck Road will be guided right toward Sam Lucas Road and then to Route 5; trucks would also be prohibited from making right-hand turns from Federal Street onto Mulberry.
For improved pedestrian safety, the report recommends raised crosswalks at three locations: on Mulberry Street at the boat ramp, at Governor’s Walk, and on Federal Street at the Rails to Trails. In other areas, the committee recommends differentiated crosswalks at the intersection of Mulberry and Federal streets, at Chestnut Street and Wharton Street, at Federal and Union streets, and on Union Street at King’s Ice Cream. In-street pedestrian crossing signs are recommended at 50 percent of the town’s crosswalks to encourage motorists to slow down.
As for hard infrastructure, the report mentions improvements at the intersection of Chestnut and Wharton, making it a four-way stop, putting in curb extensions and crosswalks. At the four-way intersection at Union and Federal streets, the committee recommended converting the slip lane on Union into a bicycle parking area and installing a four-way stop intersection with a flashing red light, which the report says will remove a dysfunctional intersection from the center of town and clear confusion about the right of way.
The report calls for keeping Magnolia Street two-way but only allowing exits to be made onto Union Street, citing poor visibility for drivers trying to turn onto Mulberry.
Finally, the committee asked council to consider a feasibility study of alternate traffic patterns and potential one-way streets on the four major roadways in town – Chestnut, Federal, Union and Mulberry streets – with the possibility of converting one of the lanes into a bike lane. This study would also look into the possibility of undergrounding utilities and examining ways to add to the town’s parking capacity.
The report includes a second section of recommendations developed during the committee’s walk audits, although the six main recommendations are deemed high priority.
Mayor Ted Kanakos praised the committee’s work.
“This particular committee worked really hard. They concentrated; they held meetings, and when I had a chance to see their report, it was a lot of work,” he said.