A group of South Freeport residents who have named themselves the “Slow the Town Down Gang” have asked local officials to increase enforcement of speed limits on South Freeport Road and Pine Street, two heavily traveled roads connecting Route 1 traffic with the South Freeport village and its picturesque harbor.

A spokesman for the group presented a letter of concern to Freeport Police Chief Susan Nourse on Friday, four days after more than 40 citizens met in the vestry of the South Freeport Congregational Church to discuss steps that could be taken to crack down on speeding.

Although speed limits on those roads are clearly marked and authorities have added electronic signs – which clock and post an approaching vehicle’s speed – along South Freeport Road, residents continue to be alarmed at the bad habits of many drivers, commercial and residential alike, the Slow the Town Down Gang said in a statement.

“We’re just waiting for a tragic accident to happen,” Bob Knecht, a Pine Street resident and local Realtor, said in the statement. “With the summer tourist season about to begin and the new entry onto Pine Street from the Maine Beer Company now being completed, the traffic is only going to get worse heading to and from the harbor.”

South Freeport village and its nearby harbor are popular tourist destinations. But, the village – with a post office, church, day care center and private French school – sees its fair share of pedestrian traffic. Students regularly cross the road between L’Ecole Francaise du Maine – grades K-6 – and the South Freeport Congregational Church. The First Step Learning Center is a child-care center that operates out of the church.

The speed limit in the village is 25 mph, and it drops down to 15 mph by the French school. A speed bump near the church and school is so low to the ground that residents consider it to be a joke. After leaving the village, the speed limit on South Freeport Road gradually increases to 35 mph and eventually reaches 40 mph.

“We have one speed bump that is hopeless. It is small and insignificant,” said Nat Warren-White, a member of the Slow the Town Down Gang.

Warren-White said more striping, higher, raised traffic tables, and a greater police presence could go a long way toward discouraging speeding.

Town officials recognize that speed enforcement in the South Freeport neighborhood is a major concern, but they also point out that speeding is a townwide problem and say the town has only so many resources to combat violators.

“Speeding is the most frequent complaint that the police department receives from neighborhood groups or individuals,” Nourse said in an email. “We’re out and about daily on all the Freeport roads. The higher traffic roads obviously get more attention than others. Many methods have been and will continue to be used in the South Freeport and Pine Street area to slow traffic.”

Freeport Town Manager Peter Joseph said the town will consider the residents’ concerns as it prepares to repave the town-owned section of South Freeport Road. The project could start as early as this summer, he said.

Joseph said the project includes installation of a bigger, raised speed table and narrowing travel lanes using striping, a traffic-calming move that will increase the width of shoulders. He said those improvements should help to slow down traffic.

Meanwhile, residents want the town to act before someone is hurt or killed. Winnett Ordway of Church Road has installed signs along neighborhood streets that say: “Drive Like Your Kids Live Here.”

“I’m scared to let my kids walk or ride their bikes beyond our immediate street for fear of losing them. It’s just not the kind of safe village environment we feel happy about our children growing up in,” Ordway said in the statement. “The speeding situation is getting out of hand.”

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

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