May 26, 2016 Special Meeting re Allen Ave. Traffic Issues
May 26, 2016, 7:45pm
Members in Attendance: Joe Corkery, Sallee Lipshutz, Andreae Downs, Maureen Reilly-Meagher, Kathy Winters
City Officials: Ruth Ann Fuller (City Councilor), John Rice (City Councilor), Dawn Fleming (NPD Safety Officer), Diana Beck (Zervas Principal)
Meeting called to order at 7:45 PM
Allen and Evelyn and the Zervas Project - All
AD reports that the city is taking a “pause” in their determination of the traffic plan based on feedback from previous meeting. JR notes that this is just the beginning of the process of communication, this is by no means a final meeting. Abutters will be notified before public hearing. AD says that this meeting is about starting the discussion among the neighbors. AD presents a number pictures of traffic calming options that have been done elsewhere for people’s reference.
DF shared safety data and statistics provided by the NPD regarding Allen, Beethoven, Beacon, Evelyn, and Paulson Streets. Notes that the data is based on when a police officer has been called and thus under-represent actual accident data. AD also states that this does not include near misses.
DF notes that with regard to any signage, they have to follow state law. So there are limits to the distance to which they can put school signs up. Says that if there is a nearby park (like Richardson park), you sometimes might be able to get some consideration around that. AD states that under state law in order to change the speed limit on a street, you need to do a speed study, and then speed limit gets set at 85% of what cars actually do. There is a real danger that it might actually raise the speed limit.
AD states that things people can do is map out where traffic problems exist and then share that with traffic council. Notes that putting obstacles in road and/or narrowing the travel lanes can be effective at reducing speed.
DF recommends that people check out Trapelo Rd in Belmont where they are doing some very appealing traffic calming measures. Says that NPD has a grant writer that does excellent work and they are actively looking for any possible grant opportunities.
DF recommends that if people want additional traffic enforcement attention on their street, residents should write to traffic Sergeant or Capt. Gromada. Notes however there are challenges because officers can’t always be there and there are lots of streets that require attention. Says there is only 1 undercover traffic car.
SL what are the odds of getting any funding for measures like this? RAF thinks the odds are high because there is a lot of interest associated with Zervas project. JR notes that it wouldn’t be at the scale of the Trapelo Rd project, but says that city COO said that could potentially look at Allen as well if it is impacted by the effort.
Residents are concerned about behavior at intersections as well as speeding on the individual streets. AD notes that at intersections you have pedestrians, bicyclists, and turning vehicles. The crossing walk across Allen along Beacon is particularly concerning especially with all the turning that will happen there now.
Residents concerned that he has heard that officers are getting a hard time from assistant DA about giving out tickets. Concerned that bad driving is a big problem around all of Newton, are there broader solutions that can be addressed.
AD states that in Portland, OR they have tried a concept of community streets which have installed multiple traffic calming devices, such as incorporating decorations into the street or adjusting one-way directions that have significantly reduced traffic.
DF notes that there is indeed a city-wide problem, especially in blue zones. It is also really difficult because the officers are often treated very poorly by residents, sworn at in front of children, etc.
Residents note that the only way that you could stop parking at the intersections is with bump outs.
JR notes that now that Zervas abuts Beacon, school zone will extend to Beacon St and potentially down towards Allen.
Residents suggest that parking in Cold Spring Park parking lots as an option. JR that would be great on sunny days but would be complicated on rainy days.
JR suggests that need to come back in the fall with a number of options detailing where the issues are and what the options could be.
Residents suggest that provide more busses that pick up closer to school. JR says that would be challenging because financial impact would require expanding to all schools. AD says that this is not about expanding the bus route, but if you lived along route, perhaps you could join that bus. JR suggests reaching out to Regina Moody on bussing.
A large map was present on which residents indicated areas of concern as well as provided comments and explanations. See attachments for more details. Red dots on images in second attachment indicate resident interest in seeing the associated feature on their street (either Allen or Evelyn).
Next meeting will take place on June 16, 2016 at 7:30 PM.
Adjourn. 9:15 pm.