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Pittsfield Traffic Commission OKs Additional Signage at Elm & Holmes

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Traffic Commission last week supported adding signage to a problematic intersection at Elm Street and Holmes Road.

This includes a blinking stop sign, a "stop sign ahead" reminder, and a sign reminding vehicles to go around the meridian at the intersection.

Ward 3 Councilor Kevin Sherman brought the petition forward after observing dangerous traffic violations happening at the site and hearing from constituents who have been affected by it.

Judi Clemons, who lives at 227 Elm St., has had her home hit by vehicles multiple times after they blew through the intersection.

"I think this would help with the vehicles exiting that road, as well as for the for the oncoming traffic merging, as well as for the residents who are experiencing Volvo's in their living room like regularity," Sherman said. "We'd like to prevent that."

Clemons was "very thankful" that the councilor brought this petition forward.

"The first accident was probably about 10 years ago so I've been trying for 10 years to get something done at the corner of this intersection," she said.

The first accident clipped the corner of her house and proceeded into Clemons' driveway, lifting her car and putting it sideways into her neighbor's house. The car was on top of Clemons' car and totaled it as well as damaging her house.

Four days later, a car coming down Holmes Road went through her front door, taking out her front porch while she was home. It also damaged the rental car in her driveway.

Since then, a guardrail has been put in front of the two homes at the north end of Holmes Road.  Clemons said it has been hit multiple times and some vehicles have even gone through the guardrails and into the homes.

"It's such a dangerous intersection," she said.

"I'm just hoping that a flashing stop sign is going to slow motorists down and the warning sign farther up Holmes Road is going to slow them down as well seeing those things, hoping that I can alleviate some of the accidents and the fear of living in my own home."

When asked, Commissioner of Public Services and Utilities Ricardo Morales said studies show flashing signs do little to reduce speeds but he sees no harm in the effort.

He also disclosed that the signs can easily be switched because there is already approval for a stop sign in that spot.

"What I'm finding with this is that the main intent for a flashing stop sign here is to call to attention, not necessarily reduce speeds so I see no harm in trying something like this in conjunction with some 'stop sign ahead' warning type sign," Morales said.

"I will say that the installation of all these things can be done since it is already approved by the city council and the traffic commission to have a stop sign there. It exists right now.  We can essentially switch that to a flashing one. I'm sending the email right now."

He was also asked if there is a reason for not having a signal at that intersection and reported that it did not meet the warrant. There have also been discussions about proximity to nearby signals being an issue.

Morales added that it can be pursued if the body wishes to but advised that rearranging the intersection so that it is geometrically safe would be a better route.

Police Sgt. Marc Maddalena ran the numbers for the intersection and found that there have been only two accidents in the last year. Despite the numbers being low, he supported the signage and apologized to Clemons for her home being the subject of crashes.

After a flashing stop sign and dangerous intersection sign were placed at East Housatonic Street and Pomeroy Avenue, crashes dramatically decreased but went up again in the past couple of years. Maddalena said it may be a temporary fix and that the Holmes Road and Elm Street intersection may have an infrastructure issue.

He also pointed out that there were impairment and medical issues that have taken place in the accidents.

In other news:

  • The commission approved a petition from Councilors James Conant and Sherman requesting to exclude heavy commercial vehicles on Deming and East Housatonic Streets. Morales reported that he is already taking action on it and is ready to present it to the City Council. He noted that it would then have to be approved by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
  • The commission approved a traffic order from Mayor Linda Tyer to establish official stop signs on Plumb Street and Atmer Avenue.


Tags: intersection,   traffic commission,   

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Toys For Tots Providing for Thousands of Berkshire County Kids

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Piles of toys being sorted for age and gender in the Toys for Tots drive. More than 3,500 children are expected to receive toys through the program this year. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Thousands of local kids will have presents to open this holiday season thanks to the Marine Corps' annual Toys For Tots collection.

The Berkshire County House of Correction's storage building looked more like Santa's workshop as a dozen volunteers sorted mountains of toys for ages newborn to 14.  

"Everything's going great," Berkshire County coordinator Christopher Keegan said. "How could it not?"

Last year, about 3,500 kids received toys and Keegan expects that number to be surpassed this year. The state Department of Children and Families, one of more than 20 participating agencies, has more than a thousand sign-ups alone.  

Individuals also register with Keegan directly and online.

For nearly a decade, he has seen more and more tots needing toys during the holiday season. Between 2021 and 2022, the receiving list increased by around 800 kids.

Unwrapped toys are collected through boxes placed in businesses, schools, and other public spaces. There were more than 240 boxes this year and they were collected on Tuesday to be sorted by gender and age groups.

The drive sees everything from dolls and toy trucks to a Little Tikes basketball hoop and donations are still coming in. Shoppers fill any gaps with funds that are raised through events like the Toys For Tots musical bingo, which was a great success this year.

Keegan's yearly goal is to honor every request for toys. There are many returning volunteers who collect, pack, shop for, and deliver the presents — sometimes up until Christmas Eve.

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