MANCHESTER — Two narrow, half-mile roads on either side of Main Street have become an unofficial bypass to ever-increasing rush-hour traffic here.
Maiden Lane, to the west, and Long Lane, to the east, are alley-sizedback streets with speed limits of 20 miles per hour. Houses and businesses line both, and two cars, at most, can pass each other with inches to spare.
But as traffic along Main Street -- actually Route 30 -- backs upduring morning and evening rush hours, more people are finding the lanes an easy alternative to the traffic crush.
"A lot of people are using them as a shortcut," said Kathryn L. Riley, the town's secretary and treasurer. "That way, you can miss all of the traffic lights."
At an informal work session of the Town Council last night, 18 residents tried to find a way to bring peace and quiet back to the twostreets.
Most of them were upset at the increasing traffic on theroads, saying that they were becoming less safe to pedestrians and motorists.
The council did not take any formal action last night, but Mayor Earl A. J. Warehime said a weight limit could be imposed, which would keep most delivery trucks off the roads.
The council also could erect more street lights, resurface the roadways or use the town's unmarked police car to enforce speed laws.
"Our main concernis safety," said Councilman Geoffrey Black. "We can try different things out and see what works best."
Under town guidelines, the roads are supposed to be 20 feet wide. The mayor said, however, that theyhave not been resurveyed since they were laid out in 1760.
"Therehas been a lot of shifting of property lines since then," he said. "I can tell you it's not 20 feet everywhere."
One of the problems of the increased use of the roadways, residents complain, is a trafficflow that is becoming harder to handle.
Unlike Main Street, changes in regulations along Maiden or Long lanes do not require state approval, since both are town-built and maintained.
"It's up to the council to decide what to do," said David M. Warner, the town's projects administrator.
Both streets are now two-way thoroughfares. Among the options suggested last night is a proposal to turn them into one-way streets, erect more stop signs, lower the speed limit or step up police patrols.
Neither street sees more than its share of traffic violations, town police say.
"Some of the citizens have had some complaints," said Chief Donald M. Myers. "We've been writing some citations but not enough to be considered out of the ordinary."
Most of those citations are for speeding, he said.
Residents have complained to the council for months about problems along the two roads,especially along Long Lane after its northern end was extended to the parking lot of the new Sheetz store at Main Street and Route 27.
During council meetings last month, residents cited excessive speed into the parking lot and the dangers the increased traffic flow pose to children who live along the lane.