July 23, 2018 -- Chestnut St. Special Meeting
Waban Area Council
Special Neighborhood Meeting
Pedestrian and Safety Issues
Chestnut St. - Rt. 9 to Beacon
July 23, 2018 7pm
Waban Library Center
Waban Area Councilors Present: Kathy Winters, Rena Getz, Patrick Maher, Dinah Bodkin, Sallee Lipshutz
Ward 5 City Councilors Andreae Downs and John Rice
Sean Roche - Co-chair of Transportation Planning and Complete Streets Subcommittee
Sean Roche opened the meeting by explaining two aspects of intersections that influence speed and safety: 1. Width of intersection and 2. Curvature of the intersection. Wider intersections are less safe for pedestrians because it means more time in the crosswalk and cars take the intersection at a greater speed. Similarly, the more gentle the curve the faster cars will take the turn. Narrower intersections with sharper angles force cars to slow, and evidence shows that when cars have to slow to take a turn, they will continue to drive the rest of the street at a slower speed.
Councilor Downs then explained the tentative schedule for repaving of Chestnut St. in 2019 and stated that she would like to get input from residents regarding safety issues along Chestnut. Resident concerns will be presented to Director of Transportation Planning, Nicole Freedman, and the transportation department will examine solutions in advance of repaving. Councilor Downs then proceeded to ask for input on specific sections of Chestnut, beginning at Rt. 9 and proceeding north to Beacon. Comments are summarized below, including resident comments that were submitted by email.
Rt. 9/Chestnut Intersection:
Carol Laibson (Quinobequin and Boylston) – Lives at the intersection. Over the years has heard many crashes at that spot and at Quinobequin and Rt. 9. Speed is a problem there.
Andy Martin (78 Stanley Rd.) – The crosswalks are not visible. Drivers are very confused here as to who has the right of way.
Becka Yturregui (Chestnut St.) via email – The traffic lines/crosswalk lines at the intersections of Chestnut and Rt. 9 are very confusing. The crosswalks aren’t painted as crosswalks and look more like stop lines.
Colleen Chapman (186 Oliver Rd.), Angier Safe Routes to School Rep.-- Large walking school bus crosses at that intersection. Middle school and high school bus stops are there as well. Crossing at Amherst is very challenging. Cars do not stop and they are going very fast, especially travelling north to south.
Jill Coull (53 Amherst Rd.) – Cars have trouble seeing the crosswalk and seeing pedestrians waiting to cross. Shrubbery, plants and fences cause visibility issues. Councilor Downs suggested using 311 for issues with shrubbery and plants.
Lesa Huynh (177 Oliver Rd.) – Takes the T to work and crosses regularly at Amherst. Has lived in other parts of the city and feels that this area is not pedestrian friendly. Crossing at Amherst is very difficult. She can be standing in one lane with traffic stopped and cars in the other lane continue to speed by. (Others in the room agreed).
Sallee Lipshutz. (Radcliff Rd.) – As a driver coming out Tamworth to make left turn on Chestnut is very difficult. It is hard to see the northbound traffic.
Brandon Fong (42 Amherst Rd.) – Crosses regularly at Amherst and echoes what others have said. Points out that it it especially difficult to cross Chestnut there when cars are trying to turn out of Amherst or Tamworth. Drivers turn onto Tamworth at great speed.
Sam Coffin (69 Tamworth) – Has noticed that cars traveling north on Chestnut taking a left turn onto Tamworth take the turn very hard. Points out that Amherst is a major school bus intersection where kids are often walking in street.
Becka Yturregui (Chestnut St.) via email – It is a nightmare for daughter trying to cross to her bus stop at Amherst. People do not stop so anything they can do to make it clearer would be helpful. This is a highly trafficked cross walk during the school year. Would love anything the city can do to slow down cars on this stretch of Chestnut. While the speed limit is 25 no one goes that speed.
Andy Martin (78 Stanley Rd.) -- As a driver the crosswalk at Amherst is not visible.
Steve _____ (987 Chestnut St.) -- Cars are going too fast on this stretch of road. South of Rt. 9 there is a speed limit. In between Chestnut and Beacon it seems there is no limit.
Kathy Winters (41 Amherst). Because of angles of crosswalks and difficult sightlines, when crossing from Amherst to Tamworth it is better to be on north side of Amherst. Going from Tamworth to Amherst it is safer to be on the south side of Tamworth. Either way she often ends up standing in one lane waiting for drivers in the other lane to stop.
Jay Wagner (35 Kodaya) – The way the fences and trees are laid out, it is not a good crossing at all for cars or pedestrians. Kodaya may be a better spot for crossing. Kodaya is a crossing for many kids.
Julia Geyerhahn (Shepherd Park) via e-mail –
- Walks almost every day and uses that cross walk. It is very rare that a car in either direction will stop unless she takes a couple steps into the road. We could use a sign in the middle of the road, but someone might ‘remove it’.
- People speed down this road, going well over the speed limit. Observes this while walking (one car almost crashed into a car turning into Chestnut bc it was going so fast) as well as driving. Cars speed away in front when she is going just under the limit; feels that a speed hump/bump would be perfect given it is a school bus pickup/dropoff intersection.
- Has never seen a police officer monitoring traffic on Chestnut between Route 9 and Commonwealth Ave. We could benefit from a once/week Officer between 7-8:30am on a weekday. Or at least a speed sign.
Kodaya to Stanley/Fenwick
Stefanie and Doug Cronin (795 Chestnut) – All the kids from Highlands who attend Angier and walk/bike cross over the Aqueduct to Stanley and then cross Chestnut at Stanley/Fenwick. There is no crosswalk there, but it is the natural crossing for kids going between the Highlands and Waban. They see a lot of crashes at that intersection. Cars begin to speed there because of crest of hill and straightaway on Chestnut. Sightlines coming south are difficult.
Jane Cuthbertson (36 Silver Birch Rd.) – Echoes that Stanley/Fenwick is heavily used crossing.
Councilor Downs asked if there is a desire to cross Chestnut from Larchmont North to Wyman. Many hands went up.
Evan Cohen (726 Chestnut) -- They are missing a stop sign at Larchmont/Chestnut intersection (AD suggests they call 311). Larchmont north and south have very wide crossings.
Jeff Cohen (726 Chestnut) – When there is northbound traffic on Chestnut and a car is waiting to make a left onto Wyman, cars try to sneak around on the right creating a dangerous situation for pedestrians walking north.
Karen Switkowski (810 Chestnut) -- Crosses with kids at Fenwick often when heading into Waban. Would like to see a crosswalk there. The sightlines are difficult.
Elizabeth Lieberman (25 Larchmont) – As a pedestrian would like to be able to cross Larchmont to Wyman. Points out that driving left from Larchmont onto Chestnut is difficult. Easier to make that turn from the south end of Larchmont. Challenging because of backed up traffic.
Bill Humphrey (712 Chestnut St.) – Observes that there are some parking spots on Larchmont. Turning north onto Chestnut St. is easy from Larchmont. A left is difficult. There are many people crossing there.
Sarah Birkeland (33 Larchmont) via email -- A crosswalk at Larchmont/Wyman and Chestnut would be very helpful. Lots of people cross there every day and it can be dicey. Also, squaring the southeast corner of Larchmont and Chestnut (at both entries to Chestnut -- Larchmont is U that connects in two places) might prevent people from taking those blind corners too quickly. We have a lot of kids on Larchmont who run across the street between houses. Right turns onto Larchmont street from Chestnut don't afford the driver a clear view of the street right away, and she worries about kids getting hit.
Nanci Ginty Butler (Wyman St.) via e-mail – Would love to see another crosswalk across Chestnut near Wyman/Larchmont. Her kids go over Larchmont frequently and it's very dangerous to cross Chestnut there. When they're on their own she sends them up to cross at the light at Chestnut and Woodward but it does add a bit of a hike to the process. Would love to hear whether it's possible to add another crosswalk somewhere near this area.
Jeff Cohn (682 Chestnut) -- Accident last night at Woodward and Chestnut. Should be no right on red there east-bound (note – there is a No Right on Red sign Woodward at Chestnut but only on the west-bound direction). That intersection is very dangerous. In the last five years it has gotten very bad. Has seen many accidents at that intersection over the years.
Paul Glickman (854 Chestnut) – In Wellesley they have signs marking aqueduct crossings with blinking signals. Might be effective here.
Rena Getz (Pine Ridge) – As a resident of Pine Ridge she avoids the intersection of Pine Ridge and Chestnut because of backed up traffic and difficulty turning left onto Chestnut. Exits out through Woodward/Beacon instead.
Other residents noted that cars are often parked on Plainfield too close to the intersection.
Several residents commented on the number of accidents at this intersection.
Jill Coull (53 Amherst). What about bike safety on Chestnut? Sean Roche – it is questionable whether it is a good idea to encourage bike lanes there.
Jane Cuthbertson (36 Silver Birch) – sees cars parked too close to Chestnut on side streets.
Kathy Winters (41 Amherst) – Overall the Beacon to Rt. 9 section of Chestnut St. is not pedestrian friendly. Speed, accidents, and wide side street crossings make it stressful. Would always choose to cross over Chestnut and continue along side streets when heading into the village.
Brandon Fong (42 Amherst) – Agrees that Chestnut is not pedestrian friendly, especially with kids. On the west side the sidewalk is right up against the street. Up close to Wyman it is very tight.
Colleen Chapman (186 Oliver) – The aesthetic of Chestnut conveys speed – it is straight with no curves.
Doug Cronin -- Is it a residential street or a through street? AD -- It is an arterial right now, but she would like to see a change in that designation.
Jill Coull – What about sidewalks? AD responded that TAG has pushed hard to make complete streets the practice throughout the city. So sidewalks should be part of this project. We will also be looking at storm water infrastructure.
Sam Coffin – 15-20 years ago we had fairly regular traffic enforcement. AD and JR -- we should ask for directed patrol, but the hours when officers are available are when there is not a lot of speeding happening.
Patrick Maher– what is the Williams Ave. construction impact? AD – we will be asking DOT for post-construction traffic data.
Renata Selig (7 Ashmont Rd.) via e-mail -- In my view, Chestnut Street as others in Newton would be greatly enhanced by having the electric and phone wires placed underground. If one only looks up one can see how unsightly theses poles, often looking precarious with their dangling wires are in our Garden City. Ancient European cities have been able to place them underground. That would be beneficial as we would not have to deal with power outages due to storms as well as a better cityscape. Could this not be accomplished as streets are being repaved throughout the city or here as an experimental model for Newton.
Dr. Ronald Marcus (Lawmarissa Rd.) via e-mail -- Restrict pedestrians to either the east or west side of the sidewalk along Chestnut and restrict bikes to the opposite side, removing bikes from the street.
Councilor Downs then went through the issues addressed and asked for show of hands as to which issues took priority.
- Speed – nearly everyone raised their hand
- Amherst/Tamworth (safer crossing) – 16 hands
- Larchmont/Wyman crossing - 11 hands
- Stanley/Fenwick crossing – 10 hands
- Rt. 9/Chestnut intersection – 6 hands
Councilors Downs will present this information to the transportation department and they will work on solutions. Rena Getz informed that because Chestnut St. is an officially designated “Scenic Road,” any changes have to go before the Planning and Development Board, where there will be opportunity for further public comment. WAC will email the community when that happens and provide any other updates about Chestnut St.