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North Suburban News

Winchester Implements Programs to Address Pedestrian Safety Issues

Dec 17, 2018 09:54PM ● By Lisa Redmond

WINCHESTER – Two recent pedestrian accidents – one that resulted in the death of a popular community activist – has increased concerns about pedestrian safety in town and triggered action by the Board of Selectmen to create a formal traffic-management program and an advisory committee to address safety issues for pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles in the town.

“The Selectmen are very aware of the recent accidents; and yes, we have been implementing a broad range of pedestrian, bike and vehicle safety measures across the town,’’ Selectman Chairman Lance R.  Grenzeback told North Suburban News.

The selectmen have put in place a formal traffic and transportation management program and appointed an 11-member advisory committee to help the Select Board set town-wide priorities for addressing traffic-related safety problems, he said.  

  •  In a Dec. 3 accident, a 62-year-old man was in a crosswalk when he was struck by a car at Ginn Field in Winchester while walking his dog around 5 p.m. The man was struck by a 92-year-old woman.
  • Community activist Anna LaViolette, 86, of Winchester, died on Nov. 6 due to injuries she sustained in an Oct. 19 crash when a driver, blinded by glare, hit LaViolette in the crosswalk on Waterfield Road in Winchester at around 11 a.m.

“The Boston metropolitan economy is doing well and people are working, but as a result, we are being swamped by commuter and shopping traffic.  This has led to intense congestion, cut-through traffic, speeding, and an increased and unacceptable risk of pedestrian and cyclist accidents,’’ Grenzeback said. 

Winchester Town Engineer Beth Rudolph has assembled a list of traffic and pedestrian safety improvements that the Town has made over the past several years that includes current studies and plans, including an evaluation of the pedestrian crossing at Church Street and Waterfield Road where LaViolette was struck, Grenzeback said.

Winchester isn’t alone in trying to solve pedestrian traffic-related injuries and deaths. According to the National Transportation and Safety Bureau, there were nearly 6,000 pedestrian accidents in 2016.

In Massachusetts, there were 80 pedestrian traffic fatalities in 2016 compared to California which had the highest number of pedestrian fatalities at 867 and the lowest was Vermont with only four fatalities.

On average, one pedestrian is killed every 1 ½ hours each day in traffic crashes across the U.S.

The 2016 statistics list 1,158 senior citizens, age 65 and older, were killed in pedestrian accidents, compared to the next highest number of 245 deaths of children 14 and under.

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The following is Winchester’s list of traffic and pedestrian safety improvements over the years, along with studies and plans:

 (1) Traffic calming on Forest Street, Brookside Avenue, and Clematis Street, including improved pedestrian crossings, ADA ramps, and other accommodations – completed in 2017 via Massachusetts Department of Transportation Complete Streets funding.

(2) Installation of radar speed feedback signs at the following locations (completed in 2017 with MassDOT Complete Streets funding):

a.     Loring Avenue (both directions)

b.     Bacon Street near Mystic Valley Parkway (westbound) 

c.     Bacon Street near Ravenscroft Road (eastbound)

d.     Highland Avenue near Felsdale Close (northbound)

e.     Highland Avenue near Mt Pleasant Street (southbound)

f.      Lockeland Road near Mullen Field (eastbound)

g.     Lockeland Road near High Street (westbound)

(3) Installation of school zone radar feedback signs at all elementary schools, McCall Middle School and WHS – completed in 2012.

(4) Installation of Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacon (RRFB) at crosswalks at the following locations – completed in 2017 with MassDOT Complete Streets funding:

a.     Johnson Road at Amberwood Drive.

b.     Pond Street at Chesterford Road.

c.     Church Street between Lewis Road and Wildwood Street (including installation of a curb bump out to improve pedestrian safety and visibility)

d.     Highland Avenue at Stone Avenue.

(5) Redesign of the intersection at Main Street and Highland Avenue – Design complete, waiting on construction funding (expected at Spring 2019 Town Meeting).

(6) Installation of a temporary traffic signal (including pedestrian signal) at the intersection of Johnson Road and Ridge Street next to the Vinson Owen Elementary School.  The Town received a Safe Routes to School grant from MassDOT for the installation of a permanent signal at this location, as well as additional sidewalk and pedestrian improvements on Ridge Street.  Construction is expected to start on those improvements in 2021.

(7) Installation of curb bump outs, ADA ramps, and RRFBs at the intersection of Main Street and Hemingway Street, and Main Street and Sheridan Circle.  Work completed in Fall 2018.

(8) McCall School traffic study currently underway.  The study is reviewing safety conditions on the roadways, intersections, crosswalks and bike and pedestrian paths around the McCall Middle School and the adjacent Lincoln Elementary School.  Town expects to implement various pedestrian, bicycle, and traffic-related improvements as a result of this study.

(9) Myrtle Street traffic calming study completed in fall 2018, and recommendations voted by the Select Board on Oct. 29.  Implementation of recommendations expected in fall 2018 and 2019.   

(10) Saint Thomas More Drive neighborhood traffic calming study completed in fall 2018, and recommendations voted by the Board of Selectmen on Oct. 15.  Installation of stop signs in fall 2018.  

 (11) Completion of the Tri-Community Greenway by MassDOT in Fall 2018 linking the three communities of Winchester, Stoneham, and Woburn.  The project included the installation of improved pedestrian/bicycle crossings at the following locations:

a.  Bacon Street – Installation of a curb bump-out and new RRFB (paid for by the Town, not MassDOT) at the crossing near Ginn Field/Wedgemere Station

b.  Skillings Road near Jenks Center/WHS – installation of a new RRFB at the existing crosswalk

c.  Swanton Street at Holland Street – installation of a new RRFB at the existing crosswalk

d.  Cross Street at Davidson Park – installation of a new crosswalk and RRFB 

 (12) The Town is working with its traffic consultant to develop a scope of work for a preliminary study of the intersection Waterfield Road and Church Street to improve traffic function and pedestrian safety. 

 (13) In November, Town Meeting appropriated $55,000 for traffic and pedestrian safety studies of three high-volume corridors: Highland (from Forrest to Mt. Vernon), Ridge Street (from the Arlington to Woburn Line), and Cross Street.  

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