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A Mass DOT traffic counter in the exit lane from Mount Greylock to Route 7.

State Studying Traffic Near Mount Greylock School

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The superintendent of the Mount Greylock Regional School District said this week that he does not know whether a state traffic study on Route 7 is related to requests for safety enhancements to the middle-high school's driveway.
The state Department of Transportation this week had traffic counters on Cold Spring Road north and south of the school's exit onto the U.S. highway as well as a counter in the school's driveway.
In response to an email, Jason McCandless said the only information he had was that he was informed by letter in April that MassDOT would have a traffic survey team on district property this spring.
The driveway's location at the crest of a hill on a road where cars routinely travel in excess of 50 mph has long been a concern for parents, staff and visitors at Mount Greylock.
Those concerns were raised last summer during a School Committee meeting, when committee member Jose Constantine brought up comments he heard from constituents during a discussion with McCandless and Mount Greylock Principal Jake Schutz.
"Is that something you're hearing from other parents, and, if so, are there discussions underway about how to better regulate traffic?" Constantine asked.
"Yeah, it's a scary intersection," Schutz replied.
He then talked about the school's previous outreach to officials.
"I've had conversations with the former [Williamstown] police chief," Schutz said. "I've had conversations with the current [interim] police chief. We've gone to the DOT, because it's a state road, to advocate for something. That's when they put up the yellow signs with the flashing lights recommending 35 mph.
"They said that's all they can do because of the specs they look at – the distance of the line of sight, the slope of the hill. Per their specs, [the intersection] fits the bill, and there's nothing more they can do. But it does come up every few years, and, driving there every day, it's a scary parking lot.
"I agree with [Constantine's constituent] on that, Jose."
McCandless agreed with Schutz that the district could renew its conversation with the state agency about the issue but cautioned that it could be a long road.
"I'm thinking about the experience of our colleagues down Route 7 in Great Barrington at Monument Mountain Regional High School, which also sits right on Route 7," McCandless said. "For years and years, they advocated for an actual stoplight."
Last year, MassDOT gave the South County district a partial win by making changes to the intersection of Monument Mountain's driveway and Route 7 but stopped short of adding a stop light.
McCandless characterized ingress and egress at the middle-high school as a "hairy and scary situation." But the then-recently hired superintendent sounded an optimistic note about what he had seen on the campus itself.
"One thing I have not found problematic coming in at the start of the school day since November – and this is a real credit to the families we serve – one thing I've been pleasantly surprised by is the courtesy people show when they are in the parking lot," McCandless said.
"We'll speak with the state about the actual entrance and see if there's anything we can do."
School Committee member Carrie Greene asked whether the district could look into having a police officer at the intersection at the start and end of the school day, as it has done during big events, like the school musical.
"I know there's a cost associated with that, but I'm wondering if that's ever been discussed," Greene said.
"It has been," Schutz said. "Informal conversations. But they only have a couple of guys shift normally, and they're out working. They have an invitation to come. And when they can come, they normally do. But to get someone here permanently, we'd have to hire them."
Schutz also provided some sobering insight during the August 2021 discussion.
"It was sad," he said of the school's conversation with Mass DOT. "One of the specs was they said there weren't enough accidents. They said if there were more accidents [at the intersection], that would have raised their threshold to have something else.
"And I don't know what the ‘something' would be. I don't know if it's a light. I don't know if it's a permanent reduction in the speed limit versus just the ‘recommended' yellow sign. But it would be worth asking."

Tags: MassDOT,   MGRS,   traffic study,   

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