There is often tension between the driving majority and the few who have the ear of town officials. The majority asks for 35 mph speed limits, and is outvoted by a handful who demand 25 and ask why they can’t have 15.
The Massachusetts legislature recently gave control to the latter group, except in towns (as opposed to cities) officials had to sneak the change past voters.
In Tewksbury they couldn’t do that. Voters told selectmen to keep following existing state law when posting speed limits.
Which they hadn’t been doing. Town officials got caught breaking the law by changing speed limits without approval. MassDOT told them before they could get any new speed limits approved they had to clean up their act.
Voters didn’t give selectmen license to create speed traps, but they did give selectmen money to figure out proper speed limits.
I’m skeptical about the result of that process. One word from the article is telling. It’s in here:
Then, factors such as road geometry, hills, curves, side streets, and
historical accident data will be evaluated together to create a
recommendation for a safe speed for the particular stretch of
road. It is through this data that the DPW will then go back to the
state and petition for a roadway speed to be modified, ideally
lowering a speed limit that might otherwise be “allowed” under MGL to
The word of the day is “ideally.” The goal is not safe streets, which might be achived by higher limits in some cases and lower limits in other cases. The goal is the lowest possible number on signs.
Ideally, they would have gone to jail.
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