Letter to the Editor, June 5, 2017: Reduced Speed Limits

By Andy Wood

Thank you, Mr. Manugian for informing us about the Reduced Speed Limits study.

In my opinion, you are addressing the wrong problem. The biggest problem in town is not speeding, it is heavy traffic congestion which is getting worse and gradually shrinking the amount of time each day when one can actually drive around Bedford somewhat unimpeded.

Think of the road system as water pipes. The most water will flow through the pipes when the faucets are wide open – like the speed on a highway. As soon as you reduce the speed limit the amount of cars which can pass a point during a period of time is reduced. Thus, reducing the speed limits in town will cause the road’s efficiency and thru-put to drop making congestion even worse than it is. Also, I believe you will find that changing the speed limit signs will have little effect on driver behavior, and the consequences of that might be you will push the police to give more speeding tickets, which will create more congestion and upset a lot of residents. All negative outcomes.

Going back to the water pipe analogy, what I think you should be doing is figuring out how you can increase the thru put of the road system by better managing the light control systems and redoing choke points. Examples are: The stop lights at the two (2) major shopping centers on the Great Road should not be allowed to stop Great Road traffic 20 seconds or less after one of the shopping center traffic sensors is tripped. The shoppers should wait at least a full minute or maybe 90 seconds. Why are the traffic lights on the Great Road not synchronized during rush hours to improve flow? The RT 62 – Old Billerica Road intersection is basically non-functional as it causes major back-ups all over the east end of Bedford and can even affect the Great Road on an especially bad day. Why not fix it?

I am sure there are several other examples around town where improved light control management and removal or improved flow at choke points would be a much better investment of time and money vs. reducing speed limits, which would have a negative effect all around.

Thank you for your time.

2 Comments

  1. Mr. Wood is proposing unclogging the roads to allow smoother flow of traffic, likening them to water pipes. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Roads run past and through heavily settled residential areas with children, bike riders, commuters, bus riders, etc., all seeking to cross the road, turn left into or out of a residential neighborhood, and it is their safety and comfort that should be top priority to the town of Bedford and not the needs of people cutting through the town on their way elsewhere.

    Perhaps 4/225 should eventually be widened to accommodate all the cars, but in the meantime, the needs of the town should come before the needs of the out-of-towners cutting through Bedford. In fact, I would propose adding a stop light or two on the stretch of Great Road between the Lexington line and Shawsheen, to aid the residents in turning left out of the neighborhood from Masardis, Perham, Gray Terrace, etc.

    The commercial district west of Shawsheen up to Bedford Farms has to have lights to enable shoppers and businesspeople access to businesses. Why else would there be businesses there, if people can’t get to them off of a very busy road?

    I don’t care about the people living in Concord, Acton, Carlisle, etc., who are using 4/225 as a cut-through to avoid the congestion on Route 2 and Route 3. Let them vote to expand those highways to better accommodate the rush hour traffic. The solution isn’t to destroy Bedford by allowing a superhighway right down through the heart of the town. The best solution would be to make the highways work better, and keep the local traffic local.

  2. Andy makes a lot of good suggestions about traffic flow. Has the Town looked into any of those ideas?
    I’d like to know if they’ve been considered, and if so, what was the outcome?

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