MGL c. 90 § 17C defines a thickly settled or business district as "the territory contiguous to any way which is built up with structures devoted to business, or the territory contiguous to any way where dwelling houses are situated at such distances as will average less than two hundred feet between them for a distance of a quarter of a mile or over."
In 2016, legislation was passed (Sections 193 and 194 of Chapter 218 of the Acts of 2016) to create two new sections to MGL c.90§17C.
- Section 193 allows a municipality to opt-in to Section 17C of Chapter 90 of the MGL, thereby reducing the statutory speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph on any or all city- or town-owned roadways within a thickly settled or business district. The legislation also requires cities and towns to notify MassDOT of these changes.
- Section 194 creates Section 18B of Chapter 90 of the MGL, allowing municipalities to establish regulatory 20 mph safety zones. Since this creates a regulatory speed limit, the MUTCD requires an engineering study prior to the establishment of the safety zone, and it should conform to the guidance found in the MassDOT Procedures for Speed Zoning.
If a municipality opts-in, it will not supersede any existing posted speed limit. The legislation only affects streets that are currently governed by a statutory speed limit. If an existing special speed regulation is in place, it will continue to govern.
MassDOT recommends that if a municipality opts-in to MGL c. 90 § 17C, that it does so on a city- or town-wide basis to avoid potential confusion for drivers. However, cities and towns do have the option to opt-in on a street-by-street basis. Once a municipality has opted-in to MGL c. 90 § 17C, it is required to notify MassDOT.
Municipalities that have notified MassDOT of opt-in
|Municipality||Opt-In Date||Area(s) Covered|
|Billerica||8/23/2017||Alpine Street from Brick Kiln Road to Boston Road|
|Billerica||9/6/2017||Old Elm Street from Franklin Street to Lowell Street
Faulkner Street (entirety)
Letchworth Avenue (entirety)
Thickly settle district, bordered by the following streets: Cambridge Street (Route 3A), Wilmington Road (Route 62), Bucknell Road, and Cook Street. View complete list of roads and map of area.
|Danvers||3/8/2018||Damon Street (entirety)
Chase Street (entirety)
Berry Street (entirety)
Alden Street (entirety)
Park Street from High Street to Lane Parkway
Hunt Street (entirety)
Porter Street (entirety)
Webb Street (entirety)
Bayview Avenue (entirety)
Riverside Avenue (entirety)
|Duxbury||2/10/2020||Washington Street (entirety)
Wadsworth Road (entirety)
Franklin Street (Route 53 to Valley Street)
Valley Street (Rt 53 to Pembroke town line)
Powder Point Avenue
King Caesar Road
Old North Street
|Halifax||10/12/2017||Circuit Street (entirety)
Laurel Street (entirety)
|Leominster||4/17/2017||Beth Avenue from Willard Street to Central Street|
|Tisbury||9/21/2021||Daggett Avenue (entirety)
Franklin Street (Leland Avenue to Spring Street)
Skiff Avenue (entirety)