WINCHESTER - Toole Design Group was busy in Winchester in 2020, working on McCall Middle School traffic issues, reconstructing the intersection at Main Street and Highland Avenue, adding a sidewalk at the Muraco Elementary School, and installing crossings for the Tri-Community Bikeway.

Not only that, but Toole continues work on 13 median islands at Highland Avenue (funded through fall Town Meeting), a new traffic signal and sidewalk improvements at the Vinson-Owen School (thanks to a Safe Routes to School grant), the town center traffic master plan ($75,000 from fall Town Meeting), and improvements to the intersection of Church Street at Waterfield Road (partly funded through the engineering department’s professional services budget).

As it relates to the intersection of Church Street and Waterfield Road, the Select Board this week authorized $23,500 for Toole to complete design and permitting. Town Engineer Beth Rudolph estimated construction costs at $400,000-$425,000 to deal with grading and accessibility issues.

Erica Guidaboni, from Toole, told the board they performed a safety assessment back in 2019 following a fatality in the area. Part of the work Toole completed following the assessment included refreshing the crosswalks in part by removing three parking spaces.

Current preliminary design includes curb extensions to shorten the crosswalks and improve visibility for pedestrians and vehicles.

Karen Fitzgerald, also from Toole, mentioned certain problems they’ll encounter, such as curb extensions on the south side possibly creating a drainage challenge, the southwest corner ramp requiring service for ADA compliance and maintaining the cross slope on the new crosswalk on Waterfield Road requiring some additional grading.

She noted some solutions to include drainage infiltration/planting areas to control stormwater and resolve the grading issue, new tree plantings to replace existing trees for more walking space and maintaining positive drainage away from buildings into the infiltration area.

The $23,500 allocated by the Select Board will come from the $55,000 allocated by Town Meeting for traffic studies this past fall. A “good usage” of the money, according to Rudolph.

One suggestion posed by Select Board member Mariano Goluboff concerned moving the crosswalk from one side of the intersection on Church Street to the other. Rudolph pushed for keeping it on the side with the buildings like D’Agostinos and the paint store.

Toole consulted with members of the town’s Traffic and Transportation Advisory Committee including co-chair Ben Keeler who said he had no concerns or questions with the proposed work. He noted it would dovetail with the town’s downtown improvement project.

“We’re very supportive,” he said about his committee’s commitment to the design.

When asked by Select Board member Susan Verdicchio about handicapped access, Fitzgerald talked about the guidelines in place for a maximum slope and added how Toole would grade the ramp so it’s not a water shoot. She called it tricky.

As the town engineer pointed out, the ramp doesn’t currently meet ADA requirements. This new design will make it better, but the town will still need a waiver for compliance.

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