Director of Traffic and Parking
City of Somerville
133 Holland Street
Somerville, MA 02143
We are pleased to present the attached traffic calming petitions for the eight following streets in the Prospect Hill area: Bigelow, Boston, Hamlet, Munroe, Prospect Hill Avenue AND Parkway, Stone, Warren, and Columbus. The originals will be sent to you this week by regular mail.
The petitions have been organized by Union Square Neighbors´ Traffic Calming Group, whose members include Tim Talun, Dominique Stassart, Rene Scott, Mark Chase, Erin Hemenway, Suzanne Bremer, Eric Fellinger, David Dinklage, and Sam Engelstad.
At a meeting earlier this year, the group discussed, and approved, the circulation of a number of petitions. The traffic on these overloaded residential streets already demonstrates a clear and present danger to the families who live there. The cut-throughs by vehicles from McGrath highway wishing to avoid the congestion in Union Square is already a considerable problem, and we can only expect this to get worse as the Everett casino opens, and the infrastructure work in Union Square begins to take it toll.
The purpose of these traffic calming measures is to signal to both local and non-local drivers that these streets are not designed primarily to get them as fast as possible from point A to point B. It is a place where families live and their children play, and where old people often take their time crossing the street. It is the community´s responsibility to protect these groups, regardless of what the larger traffic issues, such as the State´s desire for increased traffic flow to better accommodate an ever increasing number of vehicles.
We are, of course, aware that some (but not all) traffic calming measures can be costly to a City already under considerable fiscal pressures, propelled by the construction of a proposed new high school, Green Line subsidies, and infrastructure work in Union Square. In part at the suggestion of Alderman McWatters, we therefore propose that the more extensive physical traffic calming measures, including bump-outs, raised crosswalks, traffic islands, and widened side walks generally be undertaken as the City otherwise performs maintenance on the streets in question. Simpler measures, including bike lanes, tree planting, new parking patterns, innovative cross walks, and new signage, must be implemented sooner.
For the most part, we do not consider one-way street re-configurations to be traffic calming measures -- they simply move the problem from one part of the neighborhood to another. Reduced speed limits, if enforced, can be useful but should only be considered as a part of a traffic calming mix. Having discovered that other communities have been approved by the State to do so, Bob McWatters has requested that the City Solicitor draft a Home Rule Petition that would let the City, at its discretion, lower the speed limits to 20 MPH in school zones, near parks, hospitals, senior citizen housing, and assisted living facilities (we also hope the final petition will include playgrounds).
We very much look forward to working with the City to realize the goal of the petitions. We would like to request that you confirm with us that you received our petitions.
For the Union Square Neighbors´Traffic Calming Group,
Dominique Stassart and Sam Engelstad