WINCHESTER - The Winchester Select Board approved some short-term changes including the removal of several parking spaces for the Church Street/Waterfield Road area earlier this week.
Toole Design Group, working with Town Engineer Beth Rudolph and the Traffic Advisory Committee, noted the number of accidents that have occurred in the last six years including one fatality. Issues include restricted sight lines and challenging grading.
Short-term changes the board approved would enhance the sight lines by shifting on-street parking (three spaces) away from the crosswalk on Waterfield Road. Long-term changes the board discussed but didn’t vote on include shifting the intersection west with curb extensions, moving the crosswalk to improve visibility of pedestrians and shifting the stop sign to enhance sight lines.
The next steps in the process involve the engineering design. The long-term solution would constitute using Capital Planning Committee money should they deem it necessary. Select Board member Michael Bettencourt noted this investment is “large and unplanned,” so it’s possible Capital may have other ideas for how to spend funds that would go toward this project.
In discussing solutions, the board, specifically Chair Mariano Goluboff, wondered if there would be too many crosswalks in the area if the town added a third. He also suggested raising the crosswalk on Waterfield Road; it would act as a traffic calming measure. However, Toole called it a “challenging location.”
In that same vein, Bettencourt referred to the intersection as chaotic, especially for those turning left onto Church Street from Waterfield Road.
Select Board member Jacqueline Welch inquired about installing a pedestrian flashing light, but Toole didn’t favor having too many of them all over town.
As for the loss of parking spaces, Town Manager Lisa Wong said business owners “seemed OK” with it. She added, as a safety measure, using an asphalt bump in the middle of Church Street to force drivers to take a wider turn when turning left onto Waterfield Road. Rudolph said that would be tricky for plows in the winter.
Ultimately, the town wants to have the short-term solutions done by summer, then hopefully have Capital money for longer-term solutions next spring. Even though, as Bettencourt opined, the short-term solutions may not go far enough, the town doesn’t really have another option until it gets money for the longer-term changes.