Residents on Wood Road, Ivie Road, Rocky Hill Road, Geldert Lane, and High Bluff Road requested that the speed limit be reduced to 15 mph on Oct. 14, which the Cape Elizabeth Town Council supported but did not need to take action on.

CAPE ELIZABETH — The town council, on Oct. 14, said it supports residents in a portion of the Oakhurst neighborhood who are requesting that the speed limit be reduced to 15 mph on five roads.

Randy Blake, a resident of the neighborhood, said that 96 residents on Wood Road, Ivie Road, Rocky Hill Road, Geldert Lane, and High Bluff Road, roughly 90 percent of the houses, support reducing the speed limit from 25 mph to 15 mph.

Neighbors have concerns about children playing in the streets, Blake said. Twenty-two children under the age of 12 live in the area and often play in the narrow streets, where it can be hard to stop in time if someone were speeding.

Because of potential liability concerns the town could have when setting and enforcing a speed limit, Blake said that he and the neighborhood residents are requesting the town place “Narrow Road” signage with an advisable speed limit of 15 mph.

This request lines up with the Department of Transportation’s qualifications for a narrow road, Town Manager Matt Sturgis said.

“Qualifying standard is 18 feet or less, which is consistent in that neighborhood,” Sturgis said. “If I lived in Broad Cove, where the streets are much more on the modern standards, that wouldn’t be applicable there. To do that then, we’d be looking at the town inhabiting that space, which is not really where we want to be as far as accepting that liability.”

This is why some residents, living on wider streets, have gone to the town council in the past to request speed limit reductions and were rejected, he said. However, there are other neighborhoods in Cape Elizabeth with similar qualifications to the portion of the Oakhurst neighborhood.

“We’re happy to work with Mr. Blake and the neighborhood,” he said. “We’d be happy to work with others with a similar request who had similar circumstances.”

Other residents voiced support for the speed limit reduction.

Erik Johansson of 2 Rocky Hill Road said that he and many of his neighbors typically drive at 12 mph on those five roads.

“Occasionally, you will see someone drive through the neighborhood — 34, 40 mph,” he said. “It’s an out-of-stater. They don’t know any better, but by the time they hit the brakes, they could go past two and a half yards, and there’s some really hidden areas.”

More cars and trucks have been driving through the neighborhood streets since the pandemic began, said resident Hilary Mitchell, who lives on 6 Rocky Hill Road.

“The reality in this pandemic is that there’s been a significant uptick in the number of drivers who are unfamiliar with our neighborhood, between extra grocery deliveries, restaurant deliveries, and those Amazon deliveries,” she said. “There are a lot more trucks, UPS and Fed Ex included.”

More teenage and college-age drivers are home for the semester, Mitchell said.

“While the new drivers and college students know to be hyper vigilant, their friends do not, so as a result, there are younger speeders in our neighborhood,” she said.

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