WILMINGTON — Through-traffic will be prohibited on Ray Hill Road, a move intended to make the neighborhood safer.
“Ray Hill Road tends to be a cut-through and there’s a number of them in town,” Town Manager Scott Tucker said.
An ordinance was passed by the Select Board last Tuesday as a way to cut down on traffic from drivers trying to bypass downtown traffic. Wilmington Police Chief Matt Murano has been talking with residents in the neighborhood about the issue for the last year or two, Tucker said.
Using the road without living on it or having business in the neighborhood will be seen as a secondary offense, comparable to not wearing a seatbelt. A person can get a ticket with fines of $50 the first time, $100 the second and $200 for subsequent offenses.
“The idea is to hopefully lower the volume and lower the speed,” Tucker said. “It’s not necessarily the easiest road to walk on ... so when you have pedestrians on that road at different times of year, it’s probably not as safe when people want to get out and walk and that sort of thing.”
Some residents on the road have reported having close calls when pulling out of their driveway in vehicles or going to grab their mail by foot.
Tucker said Board member Sarah Fisher voted against the measure because she believes it would create more traffic on other roads used to bypass downtown, but Board Vice Chairman John Gannon noted Ray Hill Road is more heavily residential than, say, Chimney Hill and it has a lot more houses that are closer to the road. According to counts by the town, about 170 vehicles might travel Ray Hill Road on a given day, with a high of about 300 on others.
With the ordinance, town officials plan to report it to GPS companies so they will remove the road from shortcuts provided through their systems. Signs about the road being restricted to local traffic may go up sooner but the ordinance goes into effect Feb. 22.
First responders and emergency personnel are exempt from the ordinance.
Tucker said he believes the residents in the area who showed up to the Select Board meeting where the ordinance was approved were “pleased with the outcome.”
“There will always be work to be done on some of these roads,” he said, including Route 100 and Route 9. “There’s an ongoing highway safety approach to all the traffic in town including looking for all the drunk drivers as well.”