Resident happy with ‘Children at Play’ sign

 

THE CHILDREN AT PLAY sign was put up by the Town of Casco this fall. However, the selectmen decided not to petition the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) for a posted speed limit on Millstream Terrace because the sign won’t change behavior and enforcement of the law will be difficult. (De Busk Photo)

THE CHILDREN AT PLAY sign was put up by the Town of Casco this fall. However, the selectmen decided not to petition the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) for a posted speed limit on Millstream Terrace because the sign won’t change behavior and enforcement of the law will be difficult. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the letters arrived in the mail.

Residents on Millstream Terrace were notified that the Casco Board of Selectmen had decided not to pursue posting a speed limit on the public easement.

However, the town supplied and erected three signs on the road. One sign says, “Children at Play” and another informs drivers that Millstream Terrace is not a through road. Additionally, a dead-end sign was placed on the post above the street name sign.

By law, only the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) can authorize a posted speed limit on roads.

The Casco citizen who brought the problem of speeding on this residential road to the town’s attention said she is pleased with the signs that have been put up.

Earlier this fall, she had asked other residents, grandparents and parents, to support the request for a posted speed limit sign. The effort was to reduce speeding on the road — something about which students walking home from the bus stop had complained, she said.

Closer to home, her three-year-old grandson rides his ATV with his father, she said. More than once, the two have been forced to move off the road for vehicles that wouldn’t slow down or didn’t have time to brake, she said.

Another neighbor has a preschool-aged grandson who spends time at her home, in her yard. She put a handwritten sign that said “Slow down” on her mailbox.

According to Town Manager Dave Morton putting up signs and posting a speed limit does not solve the problem.

“I am not minimizing the request of these residents,” Morton said.

“The issue of speeding traffic is one we have on every single road in Casco. Children are playing on every road in Casco,” he said.

The selectmen agreed that if they supported the posting of a speed limit on one rural road, other residents would want the same for their roads.

According to Morton, MDOT representatives do not recommend posting speed limits on residential roads for two reasons: Human behavior and the enforcement component.

“The Department of Transportation refuses to put up ‘children at play’ signs. They tell the public it does no good,” Morton said.

“And, it gives parents peace of mind, where they not should have it,” he said.

Drivers on familiar roads don’t “see” the signs after driving by them several times.

“With local traffic, people become blind to those signs,” he said, adding the signs only temporarily change behavior.

“The concern is that people will expect enforcement. The Cumberland County Sherriff’s Office (CCSO) cannot set up a speed trap on a one-tenth mile-long road,” he said.

Morton said some residents insinuated that vehicles sped to the end of the road and back, looking for a connecting road to Leach Hill Road. He said GPS and MapQuest showed there was no such road.

At the time, a home on the road was for sale, which might account for more traffic than usual.

Still, on an almost daily basis, there are tire marks that indicate a driver floored the gas pedal, spinning the back tires before picking up speed at the beginning of the road, according to one resident.

When the board decided not to petition the MDOT for a speed limit sign, it instructed Morton to send letters to those community members.

“Can we send a letter to the homeowners on the road to express the concern? Instead of a speed limit sign, an acknowledgement that this road should be driven on slowly,” Selectman Grant Plummer said.

The contents of the letter included why the request had been denied.

Also, residents were advised to call the Cumberland County Sheriff’s (CCSO) office and report drivers who are acting recklessly or speeding.

“Driving recklessly could happen at slower speeds, too. (The deputy could) issue warnings based on complaints that they received,” Morton said.

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