WINCHESTER - Thanks to some citizen feedback, the Transportation and Traffic Advisory Committee (TTAC) made several policy recommendations to the Winchester Select Board concerning “Do Not Enter” and “Do Not Block Intersection” signs. The board approved the recommendations.
Jim Whitehead, chair of TTAC, noted how blocking one road just forces the traffic to go somewhere else, thereby causing another street to have traffic issues. He cited one example of how a request for a “Do Not Enter” sign at Foxcroft Road at Cambridge Street (Route 3) would merely exacerbate the problem.
Therefore, he suggested no more “Do Not Enter” signs; instead, he favored, if necessary, making the street one-way. He pointed to Glen Road (in the area of Cambridge Street and Church Street) as an example.
Whitehead also mentioned not using “Do Not Block Intersection” signs such as the ones on Loring Avenue/Swanton Street and Loring Avenue/Cross Street because they tend to be ignored (though he admitted people have begun to obey the one on Myrtle Street).
He suggested the board not remove these signs; rather, they should simply not approve new ones.
The chairman also spoke about sidewalks (or a lack thereof in some cases) and how the town needs to better enforce its sidewalk policy. He cited Toole Design Group as noting how the town lacks sidewalks in certain areas of town including the Cross Street area (near the Woburn line). Whitehead quoted Toole as suggesting the town spend $1.5M on improvements to that area (mostly sidewalks).
Through Toole Design Group, the town will conduct studies of different quarters of town starting with Cross Street. Whitehead said Cross Street is classified as an “urban connector” meaning traffic goes one way in the morning and the other way in the afternoon. In the morning, traffic moves west, and in the afternoon, it moves east.
He also said drivers tend to travel at excess speeds with many going more than 40 MPH and one driver even clocked at 65 MPH.
“We need to address these excessive vehicle speeds,” he warned.
The $1.5M that Toole suggested could help do that through raised crosswalks at Wendell Street. Currently, Whitehead pointed out the lack of crosswalks from Wendell Street to River Street.
“I know there are usually objections to raised crosswalks,” he acknowledged, “but they might make sense.”
He also proposed adding a bike lane.
The potential 40B project on River Street could be a chance for the Zoning Board of Appeals to put some conditions on the project involving the roadway and making it safer for drivers and pedestrians.
Whitehead said the town could also figure out what areas of town produce the most accidents and take that data to Town Meeting to secure funding to improve conditions there. He also wondered about an annual contribution from the Capital Planning Committee so the town could conduct more traffic studies.
Select Board Chair Mariano Goluboff said there should be money in Capital for traffic improvements thanks to the recently passed override.
On a less expensive note, the chairman said TTAC has divided the town amongst its members so that each person can drive around and look for shrubbery that may impede someone’s view. If they do, Goluboff said they could bypass his board and go directly to the DPW to have them take care of the problem.
Select Board member Jacqueline Welch called trimming shrubbery a great idea and asked to prioritize areas popular with bikers. Goluboff also suggested, in another effort to keep bikers safe, the town put parking spaces between the roadway and the bike lanes to act as a buffer. That would also shrink the road and force drivers to slow down.
Whitehead mentioned the impact of Uber and Lyft, but said neither really affected Winchester, though did note how 60 percent of the time, Uber and Lyft drivers simply drove around without any passengers in the car waiting for a “call.”
Moving forward, the town will get feedback from the DPW and police.