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JENNINGS ROAD RESIDENTS PRESS FOR 40-MPH LIMIT

Many neighbors along a stretch of Jennings Road leading past the Eden Junior-Senior High School up to East Church Street are pushing the town to get the speed limit reduced to 40 mph from 55 mph because of safety concerns and young children living in the area.

A petition signed by 100 neighbors, many of them from the nearby Weller subdivision, is before the Town Board with the hope that the town can push the state to post a lower speed limit on the county road.

"I think the big concern is young children on the road and the cars just whizzing down the street. We've taught our kids to play in the backyard," said Bridgit Gerspacherof Jennings Road, who helped spearhead the petition drive. Plus, the sides of the road are crumbling and deteriorating, she said.

"You see people trying to walk down the street, and it's impossible. Cars are just flying by," said Mrs. Gerspacher, who lives across from the high school. "I think it's an easy road to go fast on, and by the time you get by Schoolview Road, it's real easy to get going 55 to 60 to 65 mph. It's the day-to-day traffic."

Residents have flagged high speed, combined with a hill and dips in the road where Weller Drive intersects, as well as a large curve on Jennings heading toward Route 62 as particularly dangerous for a 55 mph limit. Neighbors also said it's become more difficult for them to pull out of their driveways and side roads because of the volume and speed of the cars traveling that stretch of Jennings Road.

The town is studying the issue, but doesn't seem to characterize it as a high priority.

Eden police say they will monitor the speed of vehicles along there more closely, but that overall, there have been few problems or accidents along that part of the road.

"I think that road is real rough. . . . I'm sure some are going more than 55 mph," Police Chief Patrick Howard said. "We really haven't had complaints, but we'll go up and strictly enforce it."

"I'm not getting speeders down there, but more up on Jennings by Paxon and Kulp roads," added Officer John McCarthy.

No speed limit signs are posted along that part of Jennings, so it remains 55 mph unless posted otherwise, police said. Although it's a county road, the state is responsible for setting the speed limit.

This isn't the first time that a lower speed limit in the same spot has been requested. The state evaluated it in April 1987 and noted in a letter to the town at the time that since many drivers feel the area is rural in nature, their speeds tend to be higher than would be normal under more urban conditions. Nothing changed after that study.

Then, another review by the state in 1990, led it to recommend that a 50 mph speed limit be established between Old Jennings Road and a point one-tenth of a mile south of Schoolview Road on Jennings. The town had requested the speed limit be dropped to 35 mph between Old Jennings and East Church Street. The county was to install the 50 mph signs, but no signs were posted -- so it has remained at 55 mph.

"There may be something we can do if the Town Board is so inclined," Supervisor Glenn Nellis said. "But it doesn't seem to be a drag spot with (high school) students."

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