Addressing Downtown Traffic Issues
by Bobby Blair 9/26/12
State Department of Transportation members arrived in town on Wednesday to conduct a traffic and saftey audit...
Six members of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation led by Traffic Safety Engineer Lisa Schletzbaum arrived in town for a 10:30 a.m. gathering at the Holliston Police Station. Schletzbaum was accompanied by Keri Pyke Director of Transportation Planning and a consultant for the firm of Howard/Stein-Hudson Associates.
Schletzbaum told those assembled which included the Board of Selectmen, Rep. Carolyn Dykema, Police Chief John Moore, Fire Chief Mike Cassidy, Town Administrator Paul LeBeau, Jack Donovan and Karen Sherman from the Planning Board, Highway Supt. Tom Smith, and several downtown business owners that she had been in town on Saturday during the Celebrate Holliston festival trying to make a left turn onto Washington from Central Street.
Schletzbaum began the discussion by citing police statistics regarding crashes in the downtown area. One third of accidents happen during the summer months; the rest are spread evenly across the remaining months. One third of all crashes happen on Fridays between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. One half of downtown crashes are angle crashes and one quarter are rear end accidents, failure to yield being the cause. 80% of crashes happen during the day and 60% occur during sunny and dry conditions, weather not being a factor. The age of drivers involved in crashes was evenly spread out.
Selectman Jay Leary said that left turns onto Washington Street were particularly challenging. Schletzbaum affirmed Leary's concerns by noting that on Saturday she stopped at the stop bar (painted white line on the road) but had to keep pulling up on Central Street to see the line of cars traveling from the West.
After an hour discussion of problems plaguing traffic conditions downtown, the entourage visited the troubled spots.
The cadre of officals walked the entire downtown area pointing out problem spots. While Schletzbaum cautioned the media about reading too much into the options discussed (and there were many) some interesting ideas came from those at the DOT. That striped traffic island in the photo above across from Church Street could be turned into a real island with planting. Reverse angle parking in front of St. Mary's Church was yet another new idea with drivers heading East backing into their spot for Mass. When it comes to bump outs, one was suggested at the corner of Hollis and Washington Street which would prevent drivers from sneaking down the empty parking spaces and hanging a right onto Hollis Street. There was talk of moving the crosswalks, a signal both visible and audible to let pedestrians know that the yellow crosswalk lights are functioning.
The was also talk of lowering the yellow flashing pedestrain lights to give drivers a second more to concentrate on pedestrians in the crosswalk and of enlarging state law signs. A bump out was suggested in front of Brick House Realty and angle parking which would increase parking spaces 30% on the South side of Washington Street. With much discussion, the Mass DOT will return a report within five days to town officals with suggestions. The four-hour session which began at 10:30 a.m. ended at 2:30 p.m.