Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine in support of LD 1634, An Act to Grant Municipalities the Authority to Set Certain Lower Motor Vehicle Speed Limits Without a Department of Transportation Speed Study
April 25, 2023
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Senator Chipman, Representative Williams, and Honorable Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation,
My name is Nancy Smith, I live in Ellsworth, and I am the CEO of GrowSmart Maine. We are a statewide non-partisan non-profit organization helping communities navigate change in alignment with smart growth. We advocate for comprehensive policies and funding for smart growth practices and outcomes.
We have partnered with Build Maine to guide a transparent crowd-sourcing of policy proposals that began a year ago, and has drawn together over a hundred people from across Maine and beyond. This testimony represents the view of Build Maine as well as GrowSmart Maine.
Policy Action 2023 has resulted in sixteen proposals, including this one, from eight working groups, all addressing this goal, “to address barriers to and create incentives for equitable, sustainable growth and development that strengthens downtowns and villages of all sizes while pulling development pressure away from productive and open natural areas. We do so acknowledging that Maine has urban, rural, and suburban settings for which any solution may or may not be a fit, and a variety of people who deserve to be welcomed to their communities.”
This bill enables but does not require municipalities to take action more quickly to lower speeds on roads where they are seeing safety issues. Current statute requires a municipality to take over speed limit setting on all streets in order to make a change on one street. The primary benefits of this include:
- a stronger local economy with more active downtowns that feel safe for walking to shops and businesses
- public health benefit of safer, walkable streets where the town determines it makes sense.
- lowering vehicle speeds to help reduce the prevalence of fatalities on our streets.
Please refer to the attached fact sheet for an overview of the positive impacts this proposal will have across Maine. GrowSmart Maine and Build Maine will assist the committee in any way that is helpful.