Thursday, April 19, 2007

Making Newton Corner safer

Tonight, the Public Safety and Transportation committee will discuss steps to make Newton Corner safer that are short of major reconstruction (item #60-05) (PDF). I assume the committee is not precluding eventual reconstruction, but looking for short-term improvements.

I'm not sure that anything short of major reconstruction is going to help the pedestrian situation. There's too much traffic, going too fast, having to make too many decisions. It's not a recipe for pedestrian friendliness.

But, I do think there's something to do to cure some of the congestion on the bridge east of the hotel. Clarify confusion about lane allocation.

The picture above is my very rough draft of a sign that I'd put over the east- and west-bound lanes approaching the bridge. The point is to make clear where motorists need to be on the bridge to accomplish what they want to do after the bridge.

Long-term, the bridge needs to be transformed from its current NASCAR-esque oval race track to a more managed grid. My solution:

  • Roundabouts at all of the red circles below
  • Two-way traffic on Centre and Washington Streets, and maybe even on the bridges
  • Signals only to facilitate pedestrian crossing

1 comment:

jwardell said...

Two easy improvements can make newton corner move much more efficiently:

-Post signs that state a legal left on red can be made after stop for the two lanes that are turning left on to the mass pike, at both lights. The uncommonly known mass law usually has signs posted at other intersections where it is legal. If the pike WB entrance traffic continued moving even during a red light, much of the traffic that backs around the corner to the back side of the sheraton would be eliminated.

-Pedestrian crossings are the biggest tie-up. A tunnel or ped bridge would be the best answer, but simply timing the signals to wait 30 seconds before granting them a cross would also help. Often in the evening rush hour, the lights behind the sheraton get tripped by peds sometimes every dozen seconds, and traffic backs up to the west. The ramp off the pike EB can sometimes snarl the pike for a mile because of this.

And yes, with the exception of rush hour when most people know what to do, the lanes are consuing and only marked on the road surface, more than half of traffic turns from the wrong lane. Lane marking signs need to be posted repeatedly on the bridge.