Hadley board hopes slowing vehicles on North Lane will reduce shortcut traffic

  • Hadley Town Hall GAZETTE STAFF

Staff Writer
Published: 10/26/2020 9:44:27 AM

HADLEY — Speed tables, or speed humps, that would slow vehicles appear to be the preferred method for reducing traffic on a residential street used as a shortcut for commuters between Amherst and Northampton.

While more drastic measures are being considered by town officials, such as banning left turns from Route 9 onto West Street or making roads one-way for eastbound vehicles, the Select Board voted unanimously Wednesday to have the Department of Public Works investigate the financial feasibility of installing the speed tables — which are about 20 feet long and raised a few inches from the road surface — on sections of North Lane. 

“I am for speed bumps — I am not for any one-way streets in Hadley at all,” said Select Board member John C. Waskiewicz II.

Board Chairman David J. Fill II said the idea is to make North Lane more challenging to use. Based on a recent study, North Lane is used by 400 to 600 motor vehicles daily, almost all at speeds exceeding the 30 mph limit.

Many drivers traveling between Northampton and Amherst use North Lane along the dike. In the morning, those vehicles turn onto West Street and then North Lane, before continuing on River Drive and Rocky Hill Road. In the afternoon, they use North Lane to get to West Street, Cemetery Road and Crosspath Road.

The board’s decision to investigate installing the speed tables came amid police reluctance to support traffic changes that might require constant enforcement.

Police Chief Michael Mason said speed tables, which have been used on side streets in Amherst near the University of Massachusetts and in Northampton at edge of downtown and near some schools, are the best option because they wouldn’t require increased police monitoring.

If successful, Mason said slowing vehicles, especially as they pass in front of the Hadley Elementary School on River Drive, could be enough to keep people from using the shortcut.

“The hope is to push (traffic) back onto Route 9, where it belongs,” Mason said.

Mason added that algorithms used by smartphone and GPA apps could eventually direct people to stay on Route 9, rather than using back roads.

While the board discussed the possibility of prohibiting left-hand turns for vehicles traveling east on Route 9 onto West Street, that would not be practical unless barriers were erected in the state highway.

Fill said his preference would be to try to make North Lane for eastbound travelers only for three to six months. But board member Christian Stanley said one-way traffic there would be confusing. 

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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