Speeding on Route 6. For years it has been a major issue in Marion, and during those years, aside from what speed enforcement the Police Department could manage, progress remained in neutral at the state level. But lately the gear has been shifted and progress is accelerating.
The Marion Board of Selectmen and Police Chief John Garcia joined State Representative William Straus and various Massachusetts Department of Transportation employees on the side of Route 6 in East Marion the morning of Tuesday, June 12, for the unveiling and installation of the first of two permanent traffic speed indicator signs.
Straus said he had been working closely and monitoring the progress of the MassDOT’s Route 6 corridor traffic study, and he visited Marion’s stretch of Route 6 last December while hearing residents’ concerns, as well as those of town officials.
Straus said he hopes the two signs will slow drivers down travelling that stretch of Route 6.
Bill Travers, MassDOT Highway Division District 5 operations engineer, acknowledged the “long history” of excessive speeding along this section of Route 6 near Little Neck Village.
“They’ve been sending us complaints,” said Travers, which, along with concerns voiced by former Police Chief Lincoln Miller and past elected officials, helped prompt the speed study and the search for an appropriate measure to help reduce speeding. “So we looked at some options to get people to slow down.”
Over time, as residents and the Town increased the frequency and urgency of their correspondence with their state representative, Straus said on June 12, “We came alive, so to speak.”
“The idea was to find some immediate ways to help some of the traffic problems,” said Straus. “It’s clearly an ongoing issue of traffic problems of Route 6.”
The two solar-powered signs, one west of the Little Neck Village entrance and another one to the east, will use radar to clock the speed of oncoming traffic and display it on a digital screen, similar to those installed on Spring Street and Front Street at Tabor Academy. The display will begin flashing red once a vehicle exceeds the 50 mph limit. The signs are set to flash only up to 60 mph, at which time the sign will prompt “slow down” to the approaching driver.
A contractor for MassDOT used an app on his phone to program the maximum speed the sign will indicate, as well as when the “slow down” message would be illuminated.
The whole installation and programming of the first sign took about 30 minutes.
“A lot of people are going to be surprised,” said Board of Selectmen Chairman Norm Hills as he surveyed the operation of the new sign.
Travers said this was the first speed indicator sign to be installed in MassDOT’s District 5. Signs in other districts have shown to be effective in lowering speeds, he said.
“MassDOT is pleased to install this sign which will show motorists their current speed and encourage safe and reliable travel along this roadway,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver in a press release. “By working closely with elected officials and local leaders, MassDOT is continuing to improve transportation infrastructure and better allow people throughout the Commonwealth to reach the places they need to go.”
MassDOT also announced that new sidewalks would be installed on Route 6 near the police station where there are none currently. All permits for the work have been issued, Travers said, and the sidewalks should be installed this month.
By Jean Perry