The pedestrian light would be placed at the crosswalk at the intersection of River and Main streets.
DALTON, Mass. — The town plans to pitch a new pedestrian traffic light to the state's Department of Transportation that will reduce risk at a perilous downtown intersection.
The Select Board recommended for Town Manager Kenneth Walto to request permission from MassDOT to install a pedestrian actuated signal at the intersection of Main and River Streets in Dalton.
"If the state highway department says 'OK' ... then I'll probably try to find somewhere to put it in our capital budget. If we get an appropriation at the town meeting, it could be done in the next fiscal year," said Walto, who estimates the project's cost to be approximately $15,000, based on a similar installation, currently in progress, on the town's books.
Main Street is also state highway Routes 8 and 9.
Town officials included this on its agenda based on a recommendation made by the Dalton Traffic Commission, coupled with criticism they received from residents regarding the danger that section of road poses for people on foot. Chairman John F. Boyle said he heard from administrators at the town's post office located directly across from River Street and the owner of the former gas station nearby advocating for a traffic light.
In the past, the state denied permission to install a full traffic light system — complete with red, yellow and green lights — for the same location. Traffic Commission Chairman Daniel Filiault described the light to the board as being pedestrian-only, requiring a person to push a button to activate a yellow, flashing signal. He likened the units to the pedestrian lights found in Pittsfield on Wahconah Street near Berkshire Medical Center and on South Street in front of the Colonial Theatre.
"If you could put a pedestrian-activated light at that crosswalk, it would be a great help. We get complaints about that constantly coming through," Filiault said.
Walto said he and other town officials discussed the idea of installing a pedestrian light at the Main Street location with the same firm in mind that is working on building a traffic light structure near Nessacus Regional Middle School.
A capital budget appropriation was made a couple years ago, according to Walto, in the amount of $15,000 for the installation of a traffic light on Fox Street near the entrance to Nessacus. The traffic light system costs up to $10,000, according to town officials. The cost of operating this light may also be minimized by a type of installation that would run exclusively on solar energy, if approved by the state, according to Filiault.
Filiault estimated that the Traffic Commission has been discussing the completion of the Nessacus light project for over five years, following reports that complaints were made to the Police Department and town manager's office. Following the state approval, it was granted to move ahead with the Nessacus project, Walto estimates that project may be completed as early as this spring.
"The highway superintendent has a list of vendors that are acceptable," said Walton. "I gave the highway superintendent a list of those vendors. He's going to call and get a quote.”
Board member John Bartels commented on how dangerous an intersection it is, while Stuart Sargent said it is the "worst intersection in downtown." Selectwoman Louisa Horth said she is concerned about adding another light system to an area already operating with so many.