Traffic committee, Selectboard discuss safety

  • Athol DPW Director Doug Walsh, left, and Police Chief Craig Lundgren discuss new street signage proposed for two neighborhoods at Tuesday’s meeting of the Selectboard.  —Greg Vine

  • Town officials will install a flashing, solar-powered stop sign at the intersection of Crescent and Fish streets to address safety concerns related to traffic flowing down the hill creating a hazard for motorists attempting to turn onto Fish Street coming in from the direction of Main Street. Athol Daily News/Deborrah Porter

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 8/21/2019 9:55:20 PM
Modified: 8/21/2019 9:55:10 PM

ATHOL — Police Chief Craig Lundgren and Public Works Director Doug Walsh, representing the town’s Traffic Safety Committee, met with the Selectboard Tuesday night to discuss steps it wants to take to make improvements in one neighborhood and increase safety in another.

Responding to complaints from neighborhood residents, the committee recommended that a sign reading “No Parking – 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.” be posted on Ridge Road Extension.

“I went up to Ridge Road Extension and took a look at it,” said Chief Lundgren. “I’d never been up there before. It’s a beautiful area; brand new houses and an incredible view. I went up three different times, and I was amazed that I never saw one piece of trash, no litter, and my guess is it’s because the two or three homeowners are out there every day picking it up themselves.”

Lundgren said he had met with resident Marc Morgan to discuss problems in the neighborhood.

“His complaint is, when cars park there late at night they have music blaring,” said the chief. “He’s picking up the trash in the morning. It’s bothersome, it’s a nuisance, and I agree 100 percent with him that nobody should have to put up with that in the evening.”

“There’s nothing there to prohibit cars from parking there at night,” Lundgren continued. “If the police were to get calls, we would respond, but if there’s no disturbance happening at that time it’s really hard to pick and choose who can stay there and who can’t. So, I agree 100 percent with his recommendations. We thought 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. would be sufficient.”

It also appears a new stop sign will be going up at the intersection of Crescent and Fish streets.

Walsh told the Selectboard, “We’ve had numerous complaints about a lot of very close calls at (that intersection) where drivers are turning left onto Fish Street. We had a discussion with Starrett’s about possibly making it one way on certain streets, but it was determined to try a stop sign at the intersection of Fish and Crescent. As they’re coming down the hill, the stop sign would be right at that intersection.

In response to a question from Selectboard member Holly Young, Walsh said the stop sign would be erected on Crescent, just before the turn onto Fish.

“I think especially with the Exchange Street bridge closed,” said board Chair Rebecca Bialecki, “this route is seeing a lot more traffic. I think that’s a great idea.”

Board member William Chiasson asked for clarification on the exact location of the sign. Walsh confirmed it will be placed to halt traffic on Crescent Street.

“There are so many left-turn near-misses from people on Crescent Street turning left to go onto Fish as they’re heading out of town,” said Walsh. “And with the corner of the Starrett’s building there, it’s very hard to see cars coming down the hill, and there are just a lot of near misses.”

Walsh explained the town will erect a “Stop Ahead” sign to warn motorists of the new stop they need to obey. He also said he intends to install a flashing, solar-powered stop sign to make the new traffic pattern more obvious.

The Selectboard voted unanimously to approve both of the Traffic Safety Committees recommendations.

The board also received an update on citizen complaints about increased traffic at the intersection of Crescent and Main streets. At least one had suggested installation of a traffic signal at that location. Town Manager Shaun Suhoski noted the Crescent Street bridge is slated for closure for reconstruction in the spring of 2020, and that new traffic patterns will be analyzed at that time.

Also, consideration of changing the flow of traffic through the alley between the town hall and the library is on hold until completion of the Marble Street reconstruction project. Currently, traffic travels one-way from the rear parking lot and exits onto Main Street.

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