Residents offer solutions for Randolph at WashingtonBy Mike Berger
Nearly everyone is in agreement that the intersection of Washington and Randolph streets is a major traffic bottleneck and also a potential danger to pedestrians and cyclists. On Monday night, a group of 25 residents and town officials began a journey of suggesting traffic solutions for the troubled intersection.
It appears from the meeting that preliminary solutions worth investigating may be a time-sensitive “smart” traffic light, as well improved signage, dedicated turning lanes, and better safety measures. The group agreed that the worst options were for the town to build a rotary or to do nothing at all.
Selectmen Mark Porter and Kevin Feeney, along with fellow members of the town’s Blue Ribbon Traffic Committee and Town Planner Laura Smead hosted Monday’s meeting at the library to hear ideas from the public about redesigning the intersection. Porter stressed that they wanted the information-gathering process to be resident-centric and they plan to hold several more public meetings in the coming year with the goal of having two viable solutions ready for design in time for the 2018 May town meeting.
The ideas proposed Monday night will be given to the Boston Region Metropolitan Organization (MPO), which is providing the town with free traffic analysis services. The MPO’s transportation staff will review all of the suggestions and report back to the town at another public hearing sometime in late May or June. The MPO report and all suggestions will be shared with the Board of Selectmen, DPW, police and fire chiefs, and interested town officials.
During Monday’s meeting, Smead organized the residents and town officials into three groups and they discussed what they liked and didn’t like about the intersection and then offered possible solutions. Participants included new Selectman Chris Connolly, Town Administrator Charlie Aspinwall, former Police Chief Peter Bright, former Fire Chief Jim Fitzpatrick (a member of the Blue Ribbon Traffic Committee), and former Planning Board member Jeremy Comeau.
Among the suggestions deemed the most promising were the addition of a time-sensitive traffic light; a dedicated right-hand turn lane onto Randolph and Washington streets; other lane designations forcing motorists to make a commitment; more police traffic enforcement; and a sign asking motorists to show courtesy to pedestrians and other drivers.
The groups felt that some suggestions could be implemented soon. There was also a desire for additional pedestrian and handicapped safety measures, as well as a comprehensive study of the entire Washington Street corridor from Cobb Corner to Route 138, with a particular focus on traffic impacts and traffic lights throughout Canton Center, at Dedham Street, and at Randolph Street.
In addition to Monday’s public hearing, the town also solicited input via an online survey, and Smead and Porter said they were impressed that more than 100 residents took the time to respond. They are considering reposting the survey in the near future in order to gain further resident input.
Over 60 percent of survey respondents said they pass by the intersection daily. Seventy percent said they pass by the intersection between 3 and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 30 percent pass by the intersection between 6 and 9 a.m.
The groups identified a lengthy list of complaints about the intersection, including long lines of traffic during peak periods, with backups to the Route 138 traffic light; the lack of dedicated turning lanes; excessive speeding and lack of driver courtesy; traffic blocking the driveways of Randolph Street residents; and trucks using the intersection as a cut-through to Route 95. Groups also complained about unsafe conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists; the island sign at the intersection acting as a blind spot, and too many double-sided utility poles.
The groups came up with six positives about the current intersection, including the absence of a rotary or traffic light; the maintenance of the greenery by the Canton Garden Club; and the free flow of traffic during non-peak hours.
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