BRATTLEBORO -- Ever since a series of serious vehicular crashes, three of which resulted in fatalities, occurred a few years ago, the town has been working to improve traffic safety.
Some problem areas are already under study, and a variety of steps have been taken to better educate pedestrians, bikers and drivers.
The Selectboard took a big step forward to improve the situation when it approved a new traffic calming plan at the last Selectboard meeting.
The plan formalizes the process under which residents can contact the town about concerns, and also sets out a time table for town departments to address those issues and then get back in touch with the people who sent in the recommendations.
"What we were looking to do is standardize the way in which the town responds to public safety concerns, and anything the residents or business owners, or anybody in town, brings to us," Department of Public Works Highway and Utility Superintendent Hannah O'Connell told the Selectboard before they voted on the plan.
Following the series of accidents in late 2011 and early 2012 it was unclear how town residents could best offer insight into ongoing, and ever changing, traffic situations.
Some called the town manager's office, others contacted the police or fire departments while others talked to staff members of the Department of Public Works.
Within the plan, O'Connell said, is a traffic Safety Action Request Form, which can be filled out on paper, or eventually, she said, as an online document.
O'Connell said the town will be looking for very specific details about the site and conditions so staff can be sure to address the concerns.
That form will go to the Department of Public Works where it will be reviewed.
It will then be forwarded to the Traffic Safety Committee for further action, if appropriate.
Within 30 days of DPW receiving the request form, the town will contact the person who filled out the form.
Selectboard Chairman David Gartenstein, who is also on the Traffic Safety Committee said the committee has been working on the plan for more than a year.
"We've had an increased focus on these issues since the fatalities over the last year or two, and it includes a renewed interest in the Traffic Safety Committee," Gartenstein said.
In preparing the document, O'Connell said she worked with other municipalities around the region.
She said the plan has gone through many drafts and rewrites over the past year.
The committee also received comments through the town website and met with residents, business owners and traffic safety experts during safety committee meetings.
"I think what's the most important thing to remember with this document is that it is something we're always reviewing," said O'Connell "It always changes, and it should always meet our needs. Current technologies and traffic patterns change."
Along with formalizing the process for reporting traffic conditions the plan also lists and categorizes the options the town has in improving traffic safety and develops a process for assessing how those steps are working.
She said the ongoing work will require some funding, including a request in the upcoming budget for a speed radar.
"One of the key aspects of this is the tool box, which has a list of a couple of dozen different responses ," O'Connell said. "It will help us decide what would be the appropriate response to that specific concern."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at email@example.com; or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.