, Newburyport, MA

July 16, 2013

Beach cut-through limited to local traffic

Police post signs, barriers to dissuade out-of-state drivers


---- — SEABROOK — Out-of-state beachgoers who believe they know a trick to skirt traffic to the beach take notice: Seabrook just cordoned off South Main Street to “local traffic only,” and police intend to enforce the measure.

Leading from Interstate 95 to a number of beaches along Route 286, summer traffic from the state highway has spilled onto South Main Street for years, and the Board of Selectmen moved yesterday to limit access to the road to Seabrook residents. The move is an attempt to make the South Main Street neighborhood safer for the scores of families who live along it.

The move came after South Main Street resident Elliot Eaton asked for help at yesterday’s selectmen’s meeting. Eaton was fed up with the way some beachgoers drive on the narrow road. As soon as Route 286 bogs down with heavy beach traffic in the summer, he said, drivers leave the state highway for South Main Street, which runs parallel to it. Then they drive too fast, ignore traffic laws and have little respect for private property, generally causing a menace.

“If 10 cars go by, nine of them are from Massachusetts,” Eaton told selectmen. “They’re passing cars (on the two-lane road), they don’t give a damn. It’s a problem heading east in the morning and west in the afternoon.”

A small road in a thickly settled residential neighborhood, South Main Street was never intended to carry heavy, speeding traffic.

“It’s always been a problem,” said Seabrook police Chief Lee Bitomske. “People want the quickest way to the beaches.”

With approval from selectmen, Bitomske will erect temporary barriers at two entrances to South Main Street off Route 286 and post “local traffic only” signs to dissuade out-of-state vehicles from getting off the state highway to pass through the local neighborhood.

In addition, Bitomske said, he’ll assign officers to ensure that all rules of the road are followed, including speed limits, passing regulations and to ensure drivers stay off the private property of those who live along the roadway.

Asked to define the term “local,” Bitomske and selectmen agreed it means residents of Seabrook only.

Since South Main Street runs off a state highway, New Hampshire State Police Troop A Commander Lt. Christopher Vetter said if needed, he’ll help, too.

“If Chief Bitomske asks the state police for help enforcing the traffic laws, like speeding, on the road, we’d be happy to help,” Vetter said yesterday.