Middletown Council Proposes Lowering Speed Limit on East Main Road from 35 MPH to 25 MPH

In response to community concerns and previous failed attempts to implement a “road diet,” Middletown Councilor Peter Connerton has proposed reducing the speed limit from 35 mph to 25 mph, a proposal that received unanimous support from the council.

Connerton has asked town staff to coordinate with the State Traffic Commission (STC) to formalize the change. The STC has agreed to discuss the proposal at their upcoming meeting on June 5, according to a memo sent to the town last week.

“While we couldn’t come to consensus on the road diet, it still weighed on my mind,” Connerton explained at a recent council meeting. “I thought about the speed reduction at Quaker Hill in Portsmouth and thought it might be something we could try here.”

Other council members concurred, noting the significant public interest in addressing speed-related issues. Councilor Dennis Turano was not present at the meeting, but the rest of the council showed strong support for the initiative. Connerton mentioned that Middletown Police are already working with Portsmouth police to increase enforcement efforts in both towns.

Council President Paul M. Rodrigues recalled a successful anti-speeding campaign led by former Portsmouth Chief Dennis Seale. “I’m glad you’re taking action on this,” Rodrigues said. “The real issue, as always, is enforcement.”

Rodrigues emphasized that current speed limits are often ignored, with drivers frequently exceeding the 35 mph limit. “If it’s made 25 mph, people will go 25 mph,” he asserted.

Councilor Emily Tessier praised Connerton’s initiative and suggested a broader study of speed limits in Middletown. Tessier, a strong advocate for alternative transportation, highlighted the need for long-term changes in road design and usage to ensure lasting improvements.

“We definitely need to do something about East Main Road,” said Tessier. “We can change the speed limits, but enforcement is key, and we need to address the systemic issue of speeding.”

Supporting the proposed speed reduction, a 2018 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that lowering speed limits can significantly reduce the number of fatal accidents. The study, conducted in Boston, demonstrated a positive impact from reducing speeds on city streets from 30 to 25 mph.

Research indicates that lower speeds reduce crash risks and injury severity. For example, a pedestrian hit by a vehicle at 25 mph has a 25% chance of sustaining a serious or fatal injury, compared to a 50% chance at 33 mph and 75% at 41 mph.

The council’s proposal, if approved by the STC, could mark a significant step toward enhancing road safety on East Main Road.




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