Traffic Comm. To Seek Study for Neighborhood Plagued by Squire Road Traffic

The proof of Newton’s Third Law of Motion — for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction — has become evident over the past month to the residents of the neighborhood bounded by Squire Rd. and Malden St. who packed the City Council Chamber last Thursday evening for a public hearing of the Revere Traffic Commission.

At issue was the commission’s decision at its August meeting to make Sigourney St. and Derby Rd. one-way, on a 60-day trial basis, to prevent motor vehicles from turning from heavily-traveled Squire Rd. onto those residential streets. Long-time residents of Sigourney and Derby testified at the August meeting to the ever-increasing and dangerous volume of traffic that has plagued them, particularly since the opening of the Market Basket supermarket in the Northgate Shopping Center.

Ward 6 Councillor and Vice President Rick Serino speaks with Revere Police Chief Dave Callahan before the well-attended meeting starts.

However, the commission at that time also heard from a few residents of adjacent streets in the grid — which encompasses Keayne, Augustus, Sigourney, and Charger Sts. and Derby, Orvis, Gore, and Lantern Rds., and bisected by Grover St. — who predicted that doing so only would shift the problem onto their streets, which already had a high volume of traffic before the change.

Paul Argenzio, the Superintendent  of the Revere Dept. of Public Works, chaired the meeting that was attended by fellow commissioners Police Chief David Callahan, City Engineer Nick Rystrom, and Fire Chief Chris Bright. Argenzio, Bright, and Callahan (Rystrom was not present) had voted in August to implement the one-way experiment.

Argenzio first called upon those in attendance “who think the change has gone well and who would like to keep it” to address the commission.

Adele Cataldo, a resident for 40 years at 38 Sigourney, spoke in favor of continuing the one-way designation for her street.

“For 40 years my kids had never been able to play outside,” she said. “The traffic we’ve endured is insane. And they’re complaining about a 30-day trial? My china hutch would shake. My son’s car was hit. We fought for speed bumps and lost that. This is not our first time here. I understand how they feel, because we lived it for all these years. But where were they for 40 years when we came?

“This has been a positive thing. We have no more bus routes up our street. We have no more traffic,” she said.

Joann Giannino of 14 Sigourney, another long-time resident, noted that the “outpouring of people against this,” referring to the residents of the adjacent streets, “shows how bad this has been for us. I don’t think they have given this a chance.”

Giannino, who is 81, also mentioned that she has received a lot of negative comments on Facebook. “There are an awful lot of mean people in this city,” she said.

Kelly Resendes, who lives at the corner of Grover and Derby, said, “The changes have been good for our neighborhood. I haven’t had to pick up trash or needles in my neighborhood. They’re just getting a little of what we’ve been getting for 27 years. Instead of fighting your neighbor, why don’t we work together for the benefit of our entire neighborhood? People from the other side of Revere use our neighborhood as a cut-through to Route 1 and the Market Basket. Why do we have to deal with all the traffic to make it ‘convenient’ for others? How is that fair?”

A host of other residents from Sigourney and Derby similarly spoke of the improvement in the quality of their lives because of the reduction in the volume of traffic. They told the commission that in the past 30 days, they have had relief from cars speeding down their streets after making the turn off Squire Rd., allowing their children to play outside for the first time.

David and Michelle Kelly of 99 Derby took note of the impending opening of the new Popeye’s Restaurant (formerly a Honey Dew Donuts) on Squire Rd. at the foot of Derby that dramatically will exacerbate traffic congestion on their street if the one-way designation is eliminated.

“We’re asking that the relief you gave us remain in place and that if other streets need relief, then let’s try to help them,” said David Kelly.

Bob Palermo of 115 Derby said he grew up in the neighborhood and recalls being able to play in the streets. However, he said there was a drastic increase in traffic when the Northgate Shopping Center was built and that the problem has become even worse over the years.

Then it was the turn of the residents of adjacent streets to take the microphone to ask that the commission undo its August decision and return to the previous status quo.

The first to speak was Deborah DeFillippo-West, a lifelong resident of Revere at 70 Orvis, who presented a petition to the commission requesting that the commission reverse its position.

Although Orvis has not been impacted because it already is a one-way, she said her neighbors on Augustus, Gore, and Charger have seen a dramatic increase in traffic in the past month.

Christine Robertson of 187 Charger told the commissioners that the traffic on her street has increased 10-fold, particularly citing the increase in heavy truck traffic that has caused her to remove the blinds from her windows because the road vibration was shaking them off.

She also noted the constant back-up of traffic on Charger because of the light cycle at Charger and Squire, which often prevents her from being able to back out of her driveway.

“I guess the neighborhoods that are being impacted by this are just supposed to live with this insanity,” Robertson said. “Can we not enjoy the sanctuary of our homes? We are hard-working human beings and taxpayers. It seems this has been forgotten. Are we all just chopped liver? We are enduring the impact of this traffic change.”

Tim Scanlon of 62 Charger spoke of the danger to children walking to school now that the traffic pattern has changed. “Charger St. is horrible right now,” he said, noting that 3200 cars traverse Charger St. each day.

Billy Reed of 57 Augustus, a resident there for 42 years, told the commission, “I have no idea why Augustus St. is two-way, but ever since this change, Augustus St. is 10 times worse and I’m worried about children going out trick-or-treating.”

Gennaro Cataldo of 35 Augustus, who also owns a residence at 140 Derby, said that the one-way designation for Sigourney and Derby have impacted all of the other streets in the area.

He noted that prior to the change, Augustus and Derby had the same amount of traffic, but now thousands of additional cars use Augustus as a cut-through. Cataldo proposed a professional traffic study for the entire area.

“We need to do something for everyone in our community,” he said.

Steve Siuda of 213 Grover said that the change has resulted in a substantial increase in traffic on Grover that has made the road dangerous.

“There is so much traffic on Grover now. It used to be a quiet neighborhood, and all of a sudden it is extremely dangerous,” he said, noting that there recently was a head-on accident on Augustus St. soon after the change.

Former City Councilor Denise Salemi, a resident of 159 Gore for the past 42 years, spoke of the exacerbation of traffic on her street in the past month.

“We always had traffic, but Gore Rd. has now become like the Indianapolis 500,” Salemi said.  “The fabric of this whole neighborhood is wonderful, but now with this change, I cannot even describe how much traffic is coming up our street. I can’t even back out of my driveway,” she added, noting the many cars that ignore stop signs and speed limits. She also advocated for the use of speed bumps, which she said are in use on Cushman Ave., to serve as a deterrent to speeders.

Emil Salemi also told the commissioners of the 10-fold increase in traffic on Gore because of the change. “Commuters are all using our street, usually speeding,” he said. “We are the only two-way street that is being impacted by all of these other one-way streets. I’m afraid to even come out of my driveway and go to Squire Rd. I have trash in my yard every day from McDonald’s. This is just not fair to us. All I’m asking is to get it back to what it was.”

Assunta Newton, who lives on Lincoln St., but who came on behalf of her parents, who live on Augustus, said, “ I knew it was going to be bad, but I didn’t think it was going to be this bad.” Newton noted the large increase in motorists since the change, which includes the residents of Derby and Sigourney who now must use Augustus to get to their homes.

She also said that the extra length of travel is causing motorists to speed.

“We cannot take these streets individually,” she said. “We have to look at the entire neighborhood.”

John Perez of 73 Augustus said Augustus and Grover should not be two-way. “Big trucks are backing up in order to make the turns,” he said. “Every street should be one-way.” He also cited the many motorists who do not stop at the stop signs, “including DPW trucks.”

Other residents of the newly-affected streets also spoke against the change and urged a comprehensive solution that addresses the needs of the entire area, as well as stronger enforcement of the driving laws.

Ward 6 Councilor Richard Serino, who has been caught in the middle of the debate between the competing interests of his constituents, briefly addressed the commission. Serino initially spoke on the issue of the new Popeye’s Restaurant, noting that the site had been a Honeydew Donut shop and that the use of the property as a restaurant is allowed as a matter of right.

Serino said that the arrival of the Market Basket was the primary factor in the increase in traffic in the area. He also urged a traffic study to assess the impact on all of the streets in the area and noted that speeding enforcement is a necessity.

“I wanted to try to keep everybody happy, but I’ve learned you can’t do that,” concluded Serino, who supported the change at the August meeting, but who urged the commission, if it were to consider reversing its August vote, to maintain Derby as a one-way.

“We certainly have a problem here,” said Argenzio after hearing from everybody who wished to speak, “and I agree that a traffic study by a traffic engineer should be done.”

The commission then voted unanimously to ask the City Council for funding to pay for a traffic study from Washington Ave. to Broadway in order to come up with a comprehensive solution to the traffic problem for the  entire neighborhood.

The commission took no vote on whether to rescind or modify its August decision, thereby allowing for the full 60-day trial to remain in effect  — which means that the commission will be revisiting this matter at its October meeting.

However, the truth of another axiom, “If you build it, they will come,” (from the classic movie Field of Dreams) makes the possibility of a solution to everybody’s ultimate satisfaction highly unlikely.

Mary Gandolfo of 619 Washington Ave. made this point when she told the commission near the end of the meeting that the root cause of the traffic problem in the city is a building boom that continues unabated.

“The more you build, the more cars that are going to come,” said Gandolfo. “Revere must stop building. We cannot become the housing administrator for the whole state. We’ve done our share.”

Her comment drew the loudest applause of the evening from those in attendance — signifying that there was at least one thing that everybody could agree upon.

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