On October 5, 2023

Killington Select Board approves lower speed limits

By Curt Peterson

As a resort town whose population grows from 1,500 to almost 20,000 on a FIS Women’s Cup ski weekend, Killington has unique challenges regarding traffic management. Police Chief Whit Montgomery and three full-time Killington Police Department officers face those challenges on a day-to-day and night-to-night basis.

At the regular Select Board meeting, Sept. 25, Town Manager Michael Ramsey cited two traffic studies performed by the Rutland Regional Planning Commission, both of which indicated dropping speed limits on some town roads might be helpful in reducing speeding and traffic accidents.

But that’s not the only reason for considering lower speed limits, Selectman Jim Haff said. Public Works Dirrector Chet Hagenbarth explained that qualifying as a true “village center,” requires 30 MPH or less speed limits. Making this change will open the town up for future funding opportuntities.

The board voted unanimously to lower the Killington Road speed limit to 30 MPH.

Selectman Chris Karr pointed out that there will be a reduction in frontage between Killington Road and businesses when the road is reconstructed, so slowing cars down will improve safety for people entering and exiting. 

Haff added that new sidewalks will increase walking traffic as well.

The traffic studies also suggested adding “traffic calming” measures, such as traffic lights and speed indicator signs. Some people have also suggested parking an unused marked cruiser in various spots to remind people of their speed.

“Traffic lights work,” said Chief Montgomery, whose three officers patrol 55 miles of roads in Killington. “It’s hard to educate people, a lot of whom are from out of state. Traffic lights help with that.”

Hagenbarth admitted he was originally against lowering the speed limits. 

“I thought it was just picking the low-hanging fruit and wouldn’t accomplish anything,” he said. But the village center designation made him change his mind, he said.

River Road is another story — with the library, recreation center and town offices, the board felt 25 MPH would be a more reasonable limit for all of River Road. It is currently 25 MPH on the paved portion from Route 4 to the rec center and town offices, but then turns to 35 MPH limit when the road turns to dirt north of the town offices to Route 100.

Long-time resident Ken Wonsor voiced strong concern about how the new speed limits would be enforced. He said he had a very near catastrophe involving a speeding car, and wondered how changing speed limit signs was going to make Killington safer.

Chief Montgomery said traffic has always been a problem in town, plus he and his officers are dealing with a sharp increase in home burglaries. The town and Killington Resort host frequent events that draw thousands of out-of-area visitors, absorbing police manpower and resources for traffic and crowd control related to the events.

“Maybe the chief and three officers is not enough to provide what the people want,” Haff mused.

Ramsey said, “Well, budget talks start in November — let’s talk about it then.”

Signs will be installed depending on the outcome of the public comment period. Residents who wish to make a public comment should send a letter to the town manager at PO Box 429 or drop it off at 2706 River Road.

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