NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Traffic Commission has declined to recommend the placement of a hotly debated crosswalk at Bradley and Church street.
Working off a report by Stantec Consulting Services, the commission determined that a crosswalk would not be safe in that area and that the issue of students crossing Church Street might better be addressed through changing bus routes.
The commission had recommended a crosswalk there three years ago at the request of residents but it had been held up by the mayor's office and the Department of Public Services because of questions about the sight lines at the T-intersection. The issue was raised again to the City Council several months ago.
Councilors were frustrated that the matter was dropped without any information making its way back to City Council and referred the crosswalk back to the commission and mayor's office with a request for an update.
The two problems with placing a crosswalk at that intersection was that first, it wouldn't connect two sidewalks and second, motorists would not be able to see someone in the crosswalk within the standard stopping distance because of the curvature and elevation of the road both north and south.
"A crosswalk is where we're telling people it's safe to cross and those sight lines are key," Administrative Officer Michael Canales told the commission. "And coming northbound and southbound, it just wasn't there."
A flashing sign wouldn't help either because of the sight lines, he said.
Stantec cited a 2000 report by the Federal Highway Administration that found marked crosswalks at such "uncontrolled locations" did not have any appreciably lower pedestrian crash rate nor any significant effect on pedestrian safety on roads with less than 12,000 vehicles per day and low rates of pedestrian crossings.
"In addition, if the City were to install a marked crosswalk at this location, ADA compliant handicap ramps would need to be constructed on both sides of Church Street," the report notes.
There is no sidewalk on the east side of Church Street in that area and a sidewalk on the north side of steep Bradley Street does not reach the corner. There are embankments on both corners of Bradley and a fire hydrant on the north corner.
Commissioner David Sacco noted that a crosswalk would not connect two sidewalks because there is only a sidewalk on the west side.
The commission discussed some possibilities but agreed that installing the crosswalk would require significant infrastructure upgrades on the east side of Church Street. At present, only one student is crossing the street to reach the bus stop and it's unknown how many pedestrians cross at that point.
Chairwoman Mary Ann King said speed signage had been added in the past.
"Based on the actual study that was done we do not recommend putting in a crosswalk," Sacco motioned, which was unanimously approved. The commission will send a letter to the School Department about possibly changing the bus route.
The commission also recommended creating a no-parking zone on North Street and removing restrictions on non-resident parking from Hoosac Street.
Residents have complained that people parking along both sides of North Street at Houghton Street are a safety issue.
"When you're turning onto North Street from Houghton there are vehicles on both sides," King said. "You can't see because the sun is in your eyes. ... you can't go up because cars coming down and now with it on the [Berkshire Arts and Technology Public Charter Schoo] bus stop, parents are waiting and you can't get through at all."
The commission, with King abstaining because she lives on North, recommended creating no-parking zones on both the north and south side of the street from the first driveways to Houghton.
While Hoosac was opened to non-resident parking, the commission kept the restriction on Montana Street between Porter and Blackinton at the request of Katherine Montgomery, who owns the two apartment buildings on the street.
"The restrictions have been in effect as long was we have lived here," she said. "We have worked to keep our neighborhood livable. ... when that place is parked up you can't have visitors, you can't have service people."
Montgomery said the college has encroached on the neighborhood and that lifting the restriction would benefit the college by five or six parking spaces but leave her tenants and their guests at a disadvantage. She did say there was a parking lot on Porter for tenants to use during the winter.
King said the request to remove the restriction -- Hoosac and Montgomery are the only city streets with resident-only parking -- came from Police Director Michael Cozzaglio because the city has run out of parking stickers. It would cost $300 to replace them because they have to be bought in bulk, she said.
Several commissioners suggested options such as printed placards rather than spending money on stickers. "Why for the price of $300 should residents have to suffer?" said Commissioner Steven Rondeau. Others thought lifting the ban would only help the college and not the tenants.
"I'm not in favor," said Sacco. "I think we've been more whatever to the college and their concerns ... I think we as a body has bent over backward and while the college isn't the one advocating, they will reap the benefits."
The commission told the Holden Street Condominium Association that it will review concerns about the west entrance into the Center Street parking lot. The condo owners had brought what they say are safety issues to the City Council two weeks ago. Drivers are speeding into the curved entrance where there are trucks unloading, other cars backing out parking spots and people walking across the lot to enter or leave the Public restaurant.
The association members are also asking for a reduction on parking rates of $35 a month for 24-hour parking in the Center Street lot, saying the city should be encouraging people to live downtown. King, however, said she had spoken with the mayor about how rates had not changed in a number of years.
The commissioners also questioned why association members could not pay their bills easier online rather than having to go to City Hall during office hours. King said they can be billed monthly and quarterly and that she had provided them permitting as a courtesy during weekend hours from the police station.
Canales said it would require software that would also alert the police of who had permits. The matter was tabled until the next meeting in January to allow the commission to review the parking lot and permitting structure.
Speeding on Church, Pleasant, Ashland and Phelps were also discussed.
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MCLA Presents Vadnais Environmental Issues Lecture with Vivek Shandas
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts will present the annual Vadnais Environmental Issues Lecture with Vivek Shandas at 6 p.m. on Sept. 23 in Murdock Hall Room 218. A remote viewing option is also available.
Vivek Shandas is a professor of climate adaptation and the founding director of the Sustaining Urban Places Research (SUPR) Lab at Portland State University. Professor Shandas specializes in developing strategies to reduce exposure of historically marginalized communities to climate-induced extreme events. He has published over 100 articles, three books, and his research has been featured in the New York Times, National Geographic, Scientific American, and other national and local media.
Professor Shandas serves as chair of the city of Portland's Urban Forestry Commission, technical reviewer for federal and state agencies, and a board member on several non-profit organizations.
The interactive panels function as both classic blackboards and as interconnected collaborative screens that can allow teachers and students to interact remotely, save lessons and access and edit documents on the fly.
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