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Committee plans to widen entrance to Stony Hill School

Date: 12/22/2008

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM The entrance to Stony Hill School has been on the plate of the town's Traffic Safety Committee since before the start of the school year, according to committee member and Department of Public Works (DPW) Director and Town Engineer Ed Miga, and plans are now on the table to make the elementary school's entrance wider and safer.

The narrow driveway that serves as the only access and egress for the school is not wide enough for school buses turning right. The buses are currently cutting into a resident's abutting property to make the turns.

"Now, to turn right, a bus has to go into the opposing lane [of traffic on Stony Hill Road]," Miga explained.

The plans he proposed for the entrance to the school include widening both the driveway and Stony Hill Road. The road, which is currently only 18 feet wide, would be widened by three feet near the school, and Miga also proposed a paved parking spot for the school's crossing guard, who currently parks on the side of the road.

The plan would also move the sidewalk next to the school's driveway closer to the stone wall there.

"This is not a little project," Miga said. "It's going to take some time and money."

He added that if the DPW did the road work, rather than have the town go out to bid for contractors, money could be saved, and the Planning Board has funds set aside for sidewalk work.

"This is the worst driveway of all the schools in town," Dr. Paul Gagliarducci, superintendent of the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District, said. He made the suggestion of breaking open the cul-de-sac of Northwood Drive, directly adjacent to the school, and creating a second entrance that way.

Gagliarducci also asked if more signs could be added to Stony Hill Road to inform drivers of the location of the school's entrance. "I'm looking at cheaper alternatives," he said. "The cones helped and they didn't cost a lot."

Miga agreed that more signage would help, but added, "The road is just too narrow. It's not functioning properly. We need to blow it out."

Selectman James Thompson asked what could be done before the first of the New Year, and Highway Superintendent Frank Shea said he would place higher intensity light bulbs in the flashing signs near the school, and have them blink for a longer period of time.

Gagliarducci said he thought this plan was great.

"We'll work on this through the winter," Miga stated.

He added that the best time to do any work on this project would be in the early summer, after the school year has ended.