WINCHESTER - The Select Board discussed the possibility of erecting a “Do Not Enter” sign at the top of Stone Avenue near the Muraco School at the recommendation of Town Engineer Beth Rudolph. This would limit the traffic onto Bates Road where the school is located. She suggested doing this on a trial basis and conducting a traffic study in the spring.
The board didn’t vote on the proposal; instead, chair Mariano Goluboff suggested holding a public hearing first at the school sometime in either January or February.
Like around most schools in town, there are a lot of traffic issues at Muraco School with parents dropping off children in the morning. Those problems are exacerbated with the school sitting off busy Washington Street that leads into Woburn.
One major issue involves how both Bates Road and Stone Avenue line up directly, which offers drivers a straight shot to the school. By installing the “Do Not Enter” sign, it would force drivers to use other side streets such as Lebanon Street, Prince Avenue or Grayson Road. This means any parent dropping his or her child off would have to take either a left or a right onto Washington Street, then a left or right onto Bates Road.
Of course, the sign on Stone Avenue would mean more traffic on the other side roads, and the board mentioned how it might be easier to have all/most traffic on one road, such as Stone Avenue, where there is a crossing guard or police presence. Sgt. Frank Batchelor, however, told Rudolph he preferred the sign because of how it stops people from coming down Stone Avenue and cutting (speeding) across Washington Street to get to Bates Road. It forces them to make several turns.
Even though the board didn’t immediately approve the sign request, Select Board member Michael Bettencourt did say he would defer to Sgt. Batchelor on this issue. He also said, as did everyone else, that no one solution would solve the problem.
As Select Board members Jacqueline Welch and Susan Verdicchio noted, it will probably be several things that will calm traffic in the area. Verdicchio also admitted she had reservations about the sign, feeling that it was “kind of magical thinking.”
“Drivers will go somewhere else, they won’t disappear,” she acknowledged.
Rudolph said the ultimate goal is to reduce the number of the cars and get children to walk. Will this particular sign accomplish that goal or will it, as the board suggested, simply move cars to other side roads?
Select Board member Amy Shapiro stressed they need a traffic study sooner than later.
“We need a traffic study ay some point, so why delay it?” she argued.
Verdicchio pushed back a bit, pointing out how a new sidewalk will be installed in the area and didn’t think it made sense to do a study now before that change. Rudolph also suggested a study at this time wouldn’t produce the best results. She pushed for March.
Either way, the board will eventually collect traffic data for the Stone Avenue, Bates Road area, and if neighbors who attend the public hearing at the Muraco School agree, the DPW will erect a “Do Not Enter” sign at the top of Stone Avenue at some point.