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Harold Avenue Traffic Analysis Fall 2005 The Biddeford Police Department received a request from the Superintendent of Schools to complete an analysis of Harold Avenue and environs, and to assess or identify traffic safety deficiencies as they relate to the picking up or discharging of school children in that area. As a basis for this request for analysis, the School Department has referred a written complaint from a member of the community in and around Harold Avenue. The complainant states that because of the expanding development and construction of new housing in this area, there is an increase in the volume, speed, and type of motor vehicle traffic. Additionally, the complainant as well as some of her neighbors has made the observation that there is an increase in foot traffic, especially school aged children, and that there exists a concern that the sidewalk configuration is inadequate to accommodate safe travel. In the written letter to the Superintendent of Schools, the complainant made some suggestions and recommendations in order to ameliorate these traffic safety issues. Specifically, the installation of stop signs and speed bumps to act as traffic calming devices. Whereas the complainant has made a specific request that special consideration be extended to her son by having him transported to school by a Biddeford School Bus, this report is purposely silent on a recommendation; as this determination rests entirely within the jurisdiction of the School Committee and its written policies. As a result of the Superintendent’s request, I assigned Traffic Specialist Sgt. Rick Doyon and Patrol Officer Anthony Ciampi to complete a traffic analysis and assessment of the area around Harold Avenue. The gathering of information for the analysis began on September 29, 2005, and concluded on October 13, 2005. Please find below an explanation of the review methodology, and step by step procedures that were used in this analysis, along with the results of their findings. Additional comments, observations or specific recommendations that I may have, are included at the end of this report. Analysis Step 1: The assigned officers reviewed the written complaint, and formulated a plan of approach. Sgt. Doyon met with the complainant in order to have a complete understanding of the traffic safety issues. A copy of the written complaint is attached. Step 2: The officers visually surveyed the area, which included: Lisa Lane, Harold Avenue, Jordan Drive, Marion Avenue, Bernard Avenue, Berube Lane, and Granite Street. Step 3: The officers met with Audrey LaBrecque, who is the bus dispatch supervisor for Biddeford School Department, and obtained copies of the bus routes and schedules for bus #3 and bus #19. Both buses are assigned to pick-up and drop-off of students in the area of Harold Avenue. Additionally, they obtained a copy of the Student Transportation Services guidelines, as revised on July 12, 2005 by the School Committee. These guidelines are used in the determination for the busing of “qualified” students. LaBrecque also provided them with the number of students that ride each of the buses that service the Harold Avenue area. All copies are attached. Step 4: The officers previewed the signage in the area and noted that there was no speed limit sign posted at either end of Harold Avenue. At our request, the Department of Public Works erected two 25MPH speed limit signs on Harold Avenue, one for each direction of travel, posted with the words “Strictly Enforced”. We changed the four “Strictly Enforced” signs, which were posted on either end of Marion and Bernard Avenues, from the smaller lettering design to the larger lettering Step 5: This step involved the gathering a traffic data that includes: number of vehicles by date and time of day, class of vehicle, and speed of vehicle. The measuring device is a TRAXPro™ electronic data analysis monitoring device with recording software that measures the various components through collection tubes that are laid across the roadway. On September 29th, the officers set up TRAXPro™ on Harold Avenue, leaving it in position for two-weeks. Review of the data revealed that the highest percentage (95.1%) of vehicles that utilized this Street area were Class 02 and 03 vehicles, which are passenger cars, SUVs, and light-duty trucks. Less than 5% of vehicles that traveled through the area were over Class 4. The speed portion of the analysis shows that the highest percentage (66.4%) of vehicles traveling through the area was traveling at a speed between 21 and 30 MPH. Further, the study shows that only 44.1% of the traffic was traveling at a speed which was less than the maximum speed limit, while 55.8% of motorists were traveling to varying degrees, in excess of the posted speed limit. The mean for the entire study period is 26 M.P.H., with a posted speed for this area of 25 miles per hour. The last value that can be derived from the study is that the peak traffic volume times were between 0700 and 0800 and between 1600 and 1700. This information suggests that the highest volumes of traffic are created during the local residents’ morning and evening commutes. Detailed results of the traffic analysis/study are available for presentation and explanation. During this review period, a total of 5,380 trips were made across the traffic tubes. Step 6: The officers measured the distance from 1 Lisa Lane to JF Kennedy School in response to a specific concern of the complainant, whose child is required to walk to JFK. Using a calibrated patrol unit, Officer Ciampi drove from 1 Lisa Lane to Harold Avenue then to Bernard Avenue and then to West Street and to JFK. The odometer reading on the unit indicated 1.0- miles. Officer Ciampi then drove this same course in the reverse order and the odometer reading in the police unit indicated 1.0-miles. This course was chosen simply because it is the shortest measured route that allows a pedestrian to walk to JF Kennedy School on a raised sidewalk. Step 7: The officers completed a survey the area of Harold Avenue using the LTI laser transit, which allows us to take measurements of the area and diagnose or identify problem areas. The diagrams of the area are attached. Step 8: Officer Ciampi conducted visual surveillance of the area in order to gather information on the amount of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. During those times that Officer Ciampi was there, he observed a moderate amount of vehicular traffic leaving the area, with only a minimal amount that came into the area. The outcome was expected, as these observations seem to coincide with and be reflective of, the morning and evening commute times. According to the officer’s observations, there was minimal pedestrian traffic in the area with very few students walking and only slightly more waiting at the designated stops for the school bus. On one of the observation days, for example, five (5) students took bus #3 and no students took bus #19. Few people walked through the area at other times of the day. Step 9: The Department established extra proactive traffic patrols in the area of Harold Avenue. The results of those selective patrols are 3 speeding tickets for 7 miles over, and 4 warnings for 5 miles over the speed limit. Step 10: Sgt. Doyon and Officer Ciampi met with members of the City of Biddeford Engineering Department and obtained a copy of aerial photographs of the area, which are attached. Step 11: Officers took photographs of the area, which are attached. Conclusion With the obvious truism that more development will bring with it more traffic, more pedestrians, more students, and complaints of speeding vehicles that operate in disregard to the safety of others. That being said, this newly expanded development has brought with it complaints of speeding vehicles, and request from a parent for the School Committee to deviate from established policies that regulate the transportation of students. The analysis of this area has revealed a need for specific remedial action that we can and should do something about. It was noted during the officers’ evaluation of the area that speed limit signs were never erected by the city, thus making our speed enforcement efforts almost impossible. In response to that weakness, two speed limit signs were properly posted along with a warning that this speed would be strongly enforced by our police officers. The addition of “slow children” signs to the area would be helpful, and would not need council action to get them placed somewhere on Harold Avenue. I will also propose to the City Council that a stop intersection be enacted on Harold Avenue, at Bernard Avenue to act as a traffic calming measure. This will most assuredly slow traffic down, and is more readily identifiable by the operator of a motor vehicle. Finally, Construction of a sidewalk on Harold Avenue falls within the authority of the City Council, but is not seen as an impediment to the safety of children walking to school, as other routes have been identified.
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