Great Barrington police to crack down on speeders

By Heather Bellow, The Berkshire Eagle GREAT BARRINGTON — Amid townwide complaints by residents that motorists are flouting speed limits and other traffic laws, town police announced Monday that they are cracking down by using unmarked cruisers and other tactics. “There will be spotter cars and chase cars,” said town Police Chief William Walsh.

Walsh told the Select Board that he is forming a traffic enforcement unit that will undergo additional training and will monitor certain intersections, street lights, stop signs and crosswalks. The unit will continue its high visibility enforcement, but will also use subterfuge to nab and deter speeders. “That old Ford pickup truck could well have a police officer in it,” he said. “We’re serious.”

Police will also continue to set up solar-powered speed trailers at problem spots, and residents can call the station to request one, Walsh added. He also plans to emphasize education, particularly about the less well known local laws that prohibit people from crossing the street on scooters and skateboards, or while wearing roller skates.

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The push for a solution came last month, after several residents spoke passionately to the Select Board about dangerous speeds on East Street, Taconic Avenue and Main Street. They also accused police and town officials of ignoring the problem.

That same week, a teen was struck in a Main Street sidewalk while crossing it on his skateboard. While his injuries were minor and the driver was not charged, the accident sounded the alarm yet again. The crosswalks were repainted to remind people to look and wave, and Walsh began developing a larger plan that would include a focus on ensuring crosswalk safety.

He said police would ramp up enforcement temporarily and also work with the state on strategies to make Stockbridge Road (Route 7) safer, since several people have been hit crossing from hotels to restaurants. Walsh also said that the Department of Public Works would be clearing stop signs that are obscured by bushes and vines, and asks residents to call police when they encounter this. “People use that as a defense in court, and actually, they’re right,” he said.

Between Aug.

21 and Sept.

6, police have issued 59 citations and warnings from 324 radar/crosswalk assignments, he said. Police will also be educating residents about bicycle safety, as well, and generally spending more time walking the beat downtown, Walsh said. Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871

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