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Subcommittee hopes traffic will lose speed

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WEST SPRINGFIELD A predominant theme emerged within the City Council's Traffic & Safety subcommittee meeting last Thursday. Regardless of the item on the agenda, town officials and residents kept coming full circle to one topic speeding.

A request to turn Country View Street into a one-way street due to increased traffic volume and excessive speed was the most pressing matter for residents.

"Speed is an awful problem," John Riordan, a resident of Country View Street, said. "It's just a dangerous, dangerous road." He added that he was in favor of a dead end rather than a one-way street.

Complaints about inadequate lighting, safety of residents due to speeding cars and an increased number of cars throughout town has prompted one resident to form Operation Slow Down.

Joyce Corbett, a resident of Piper Road, said at the meeting that she has been working with Mayor Edward Gibson and other public officials to promote this townwide campaign to slow down traffic and increase the safety of all residents.

Corbett said while the posted speed limit on her road is 30 mph, the average speed is 47 mph. She explained that she believes "traffic calming" the fundamental practice of Operation Slow Down will promote a significant increase in driver responsibility.

Corbett said a townwide mailing, which the mayor has agreed to distribute in the spring (several calls made to Gibson's office were not returned by press time) will thoroughly explain the practice so that residents will not be surprised once it is enforced on their street.

She explained that "traffic calming" is a practice that begins with a "saturation" of one street with signs, which read, "Check Your Speed." A radar board displaying each car's speed will also be placed on the street and then the entire street will be illuminated with individual lights. Corbett said this practice will hopefully yield numerous results as each driver becomes aware of his or her speed and safety of others.

She said that after the traffic calming has taken place ticketing usually follows.

The most common forms of traffic calming are those in urban areas, which include speed bumps and raised pedestrian crossings.

Corbett said she plans for each street to have a team captain to implement Operation Slow Down and traffic calming. She explained that she is also collecting donations and filing for funding for Operation Slow Down which currently has less than 10 members.

District One Councilor Angus Rushlow, also a member of the Traffic & Safety subcommittee, said during his four years on the subcommittee he believes there is one major problem: "Getting the city to have traffic enforcement."

"What comes first? The safety of the people or saving a dollar?" Rushlow asked. "My endeavor is getting traffic and safety in town under control. Our job would be cut in half if we could get this under control."

District Four Councilor John Sweeney, also secretary of the subcommittee, said he believes that public education is the key to decreased speeding across West Springfield.

However, Rushlow said he disagreed. "The only thing that people know is what comes out of their wallet," Rushlow said. "Education won't work."

Rushlow added that he believes traffic on Main and Union streets has slowed down as a byproduct of increased ticketing.

At Large Councilor Paul Boudo, chair of the subcommittee, explored several options for slowing traffic during committee discussions. He proposed the installation of increased signage on Country View Street and other roads and increased use of the town's electronic speed board. He noted that the installation of speed bumps would be too difficult in this climate due to plowing.

For more information about Operation Slow Down contact Corbett at 732-5389.