Athol Selectboard addresses traffic concerns

  • Athol officials made no move to change direction on this “no left turn” sign onto School Street from the municipal parking lot across from the YMCA, saying safety is the key. ATHOL DAILY NEWS/DEBORRAH PORTER

Staff Writer
Published: 4/9/2018 11:36:10 PM
Modified: 4/10/2018 7:36:43 AM

ATHOL — With the safety of disc golfers and hikers crossing Route 32 near Tully Lake in mind, two solar LED pedestrian signs will be installed and crosswalks painted with approval from the town.

Jeffrey Mangum, the Army Corps of Engineers project manager for Birch Hill Dam and Tully Lake, submitted the request to partner with the town to install a couple of crosswalks. The area targeted is where disc golf players cross the road to get to the remaining holes on the other side on the course near the bridge. They must then cross Route 32 again at the end near the parking area.

The measure was recommended by the Traffic Safety Team and supported by the Selectboard. The Corps will fund the installation of solar LED pedestrian signage and the initial crosswalk painting, and the town agrees to maintain the crosswalks.

The Tully Lake Disc Golf Course is a mixed tee-type, 18-hole course. The woodsy, 5,943-foot course features a 50/50 flat/hills area.

Stop sign approved

The installation of a stop sign on Fish Street, at its intersection with Crescent Street, was recommended by the Traffic Safety Team and approved by the Selectboard. The action was suggested due to poor sight lines and no traffic control for southbound traffic on Fish Street.

Fire Chief John Duguay said, “People coming up the hill to the intersection are not stopping. It’s a high-hazard area. We recommend the stop sign to prevent them from going through the intersection.”

No action

Questions arose as to why the public parking lot across from the YMCA has signage at the exit directing cars uptown and prohibiting cars from turning left toward downtown.

Selectman Lee Chauvette said he had numerous residents say they’re “trying to promote the downtown businesses,” but the “no left turn” sign sends them uptown.

Chief Duguay said, “We’re looking at public safety. If someone is turning left and a vehicle comes down that hill, there is no time to stop.”

The Safety Committee noted that cars traveling down School Street around the corner with the railroad overpass ahead have a limited sight line. No change was made.

Town Hall alleyway

The Committee also discussed inquiries about safety at the alleyway between Town Hall and Athol Public Liibrary. People have reported “close calls” exiting the alleyway with the crosswalk due to turning traffic from School and Traverse streets. The two-way Main Street traffic is often times difficult to negotiate and vehicles parking next to Town Hall limit visibility when pulling out onto Main Street.

“It’s hard getting out of there,” said Selectwoman Holly Young.

Town Manager Shaun Suhoski said, “There is no perfect answer.”

Options include reversing the one-way traffic there to incoming travel only; or making it a pedestrian-only passway. On the recommendation of Selectwoman Rebecca Bialecki, it was voted to have further discussion on the matter.

Bus stop moved

The town manager will make a request to the Montachusett Regional Transit Authority to temporarily relocate the MART bus stop to the front of Athol Hospital during the reconstruction of the parking areas.

A request for a “Blind Drive” or “Disabled Child” sign on North Orange Road was discussed. The DPW superintendent said existing “Slow Children” signage can be replaced with new “Blind Drive” signage.

More review is needed for the request for stop signs at Swanzey Street, Oak Avenue and Harvard Avenue.

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