After a busy summer researching ways to reduce speeding and traffic on Main Street, the town of New Market is now considering putting in speed cameras.
Along with residents and businesses that have started a grassroots effort to remind drivers along Main Street to slow down, the town plans to add bollards — sturdy posts designed to help increase sight lines for motorists turning onto Main Street from alleys — as well as painting curbs red where parking is not permitted and making certain alleys one-way.
Speed cameras are also an option.
Councilman Jake Romanell said he and Councilman Mike Davies conducted research with the county and other municipalities in the area and found a company with “police powers” that can install and administer the program for speed cameras.
The company, which Romanell would not name, would conduct a two- to three-week speed study on Main Street free of charge to see if speed cameras would be a viable option for the busy stretch of road.
With speed cameras, traffic offenders are mailed a citation recorded from the camera. No points are given for the offense because the citation goes to the vehicle owner, not the driver. For each traffic citation, the town receives a percentage of the fine.
While Councilman Scott Robertson seemed to like the idea, he suggested that the town wait to do the speed study until they see what Shawn Burnett, the town engineer, wants to implement, and has the budget to implement.
“It seems like most of the citizen complaints that we have in New Market are visibility and overcrowded parking on Main Street,” Robertson said. “There were more complaints on that than the speeding, I thought.”
He suggested putting the bollards in first to see how the flow of traffic is affected.
Mayor Winslow F. Burhans III suggested that the town wait to do the speed study until school is in session.
“Summertime is generally not a good time to do traffic and speed studies,” he said.
The town also worked with the county and will be changing the speed limit signs from 30 mph to 25 mph. Romanell said the State Highway Administration signed off on changing the signs the week of Aug. 26, but the town is still awaiting confirmation from the county.
“We’re hopeful that the speed limit along the Main Street section of New Market will be 25 miles an hour before school starts,” he said.
While the town is weighing its options to slow down traffic, other municipalities in Frederick County have already implemented cameras and say they do slow drivers down through town.
Speed cameras can be placed only in a school zone or work zone, according to the State Highway Administration. School zones are a designated half-mile radius around the school.
The most recent town to install cameras is Thurmont, which installed one outside the police station near the town’s middle and elementary schools.
The camera was installed the week of July 15 and is operating under a warning period from July 15 to Aug. 23, according to Thurmont Police Chief Greg Eyler.
“At that time we either issue a warning or there will be no citations issued at all,” he said. “After that [Aug. 23], citations will be issued if there are any.”
Right now the town has one speed camera but is looking into putting up two more — one near Catoctin High School and one near the Primary School.
The current speed camera near the police department operates from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Just from watching traffic go by, Eyler has seen that cars have slowed down once they see the “photo enforced” sign that stands near the camera.
“I think they’re going to be a great deterrent,” he said. “Our major goal is to slow drivers down and to make it safer, especially around the school areas for our kids, citizens and motorists.”
The city of Frederick has had speed cameras since 2011, according to Stephanie Keiser, automated enforcement coordinator for the Frederick Police Department.
The city has 11 functioning speed enforcement cameras, but it operates only six at a time. Like Thurmont, Frederick operates the cameras from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
From speed cameras alone, there are 600 to 1,300 citations issued per month to traffic offenders, Keiser said.