The speed limit leaving Brattleboro on Route 30 is wrong.
Currently, the posted limit is 40 mph until after the distillery. The road, though, was engineered for a faster speed. Driving 40 mph now feels very slow.
Driving 40 mph along this stretch seems slow for many reasons. The road is wide as it is. The shoulders are wide enough for extra lanes. The curves of the road are wide and gentle.
The switch to 40 mph was out of concern for safety for the West River athletic fields, but there are rarely pedestrians and only a handful bike riders along that route. Everyone drives to the fields. It’s too far for athletes to walk.
Cops know the speed is wrong – it is why they frequently sit under the I-91 overpass (in the spaces reserved for tourists to park and appreciate the view) with radar guns, handing out tickets with ease. They know people will be going faster than 40 mph, especially as drivers pass Upper Dummerston Road and notice the road open up ahead. It’s almost cheating to catch speeders here. The road encourages speeding.
Those who drive this route know it is hard to go 40 mph. Not only does it feel like the wrong speed for that stretch of road, it is so slow that it causes other problems. It is easy for a driver going that slow to stop looking at the road and start appreciating the view or fumbling about in the car instead, an increase to distracted driving.
Even if one tries to go 40, it is easy to “forget” and slowly creep up in speed.
Going 40 mph also increases road rage. Other vehicles do not appreciate you going the speed limit. They ride up behind you and push you along, making for unnecessarily unsafe conditions. (They then want to race around and pass you once the speed limit rises again.)
What is the solution? There seem to be three options:
1. Keep things as they are. Nonexistant pedestrians will be safe, but others will struggle with speed traps and the feeling that the speed limit is just plain wrong for the road. Law enforcement will write a lot of tickets.
2. Speed things up. It didn’t used to be this slow. If I were altering the speed limit again, I’d make it 50 mph after Upper Dummerston Road.
3. Slow the road. It’s not enough to put lower speed limit signs on that stretch. It’s not fair. The road needs to be re-engineered for a slower speed. It needs to be narrowed, or islands installed, or more curves added, or SOMETHING. Bike lanes down the middle. More trees close to the road. A rotary! (Just kidding).
Without much development along that stretch, 40 mph just seems wrong.