Traffic Comm. Shifts Into Reverse, Ends 60-Day Trial To Await Results of Traffic Study

The Revere Traffic Commission unanimously voted to end a 60-day trial period for Sigourney Rd. and Derby St. that had converted those streets temporarily into one-way roadways in order to give some relief to the residents of Derby and Sigourney from the high volume of traffic that traverses through their neighborhood between Malden St. and Squire Rd.

However, the issue still is far from resolved. The commission will be hiring an independent consulting firm to conduct a traffic study of the grid of streets bounded by Washington
Ave. & Broadway and Malden St. & Squire Rd. to determine the best course of action going forward in order to alleviate the issue of excessive traffic volume and the attendant problems of noise, road vibration, and unsafe driving behavior at all hours of the day and night.

The City Council at a recent meeting voted to appropriate funding for the traffic study at the request of both the Traffic Commission and the residents of the area, who were vocal in making known their dissatisfaction with the present traffic situation, which promises only to get exponentially worse when the new Popeye’s restaurant opens at the corner of Squire and Derby next year in the former location of Honeydew Donuts.

The commission at its August meeting had acceded to the requests of the residents of Derby and Sigourney, who were supported by Ward Six City Councillor Richard Serino, to make their streets one-way in order to reduce the high volume of traffic that uses their streets as cut-throughs to get to-and-from Malden St. and Squire Rd.

The 60-day trial period converted Derby into a one-way road from Grover into Squire, thereby preventing traffic from making a right turn from Squire onto Derby.

The trial also converted Sigourney into a one-way road from Grover to Malden, thereby preventing traffic from turning from Malden onto Sigourney to get up to Squire.

However, as had been predicted in August by residents of the other streets in the grid that run parallel to Sigourney and Derby, the 60-day trial inevitably had a domino effect by increasing the flow of traffic onto their streets.

The commission held a public meeting after 30 days of the trial period in September in response to the outcry from the residents of Augustus, Keayne, Charger, Orvis, Gore, Charger, and the other streets in the grid, who told the commission that their streets, which already had a large volume of traffic prior to the trial period, now were seeing even more traffic, which is what they had predicted in August.

Although the commissioners decided in September to leave the 60-day trial intact, they voted to request that the mayor and City Council appropriate funds for a comprehensive traffic study.

Thursday’s meeting, which once again featured residents on both sides of the issue, was fairly straightforward.

Predictably, the residents of Sigourney and Derby spoke in favor of maintaining the trial period configuration pending the result of the traffic study.

Adele Cataldo of 38 Sigourney asked that the 60-day trial remain in effect until the traffic study is completed.

“We’re all happy with it,” said Cataldo.

Joann Giannino of 14 Sigourney told the commission, “Our lives have been so much better for the last 60 days. I feel badly for the people on Charger St., because they now are affected as badly as we were.”

Kelli Resendes of 75 Grover St., which is at the corner of Derby, also urged the commission to keep the trial in effect pending the traffic study.

“I’ve never slept so well in my life,” she said.

David Kelley of 99 Derby noted that the traffic impact has not been as great on the other side streets as it had been on Derby and Sigourney prior to the change.

“I can walk my dog safely for the first time,” he said. “Things have been good, I’d like it to stay that way.”

Another resident of Sigourney said, “The difference we’re experiencing in the traffic has been great for us. I would like to see what the traffic study will bear before any decision is made to change it back.”

The commission also received a letter from Ward 6 Councillor Serino, who was unable to attend the meeting, in which Serino, in a Solomon-like suggestion, urged the commission to at least maintain the one-way designation for Derby.

Serino also requested the commission to undertake the traffic study forthwith so that the commission can implement a new traffic plan for the area prior to the opening of the Popeye’s, which all agreed threatens to have a significant impact on their neighborhood.

However, the crowded City Council Chamber was filled mostly with residents from the streets adjacent to Sigourney and Derby who wanted the 60-day trial to end. The group chose one of their fellow residents, Gennaro Cataldo of  35 Augustus St. (who also owns a home at 140 Derby), to speak on their behalf.

Cataldo first presented a petition from the residents asking the commission to rescind the trial period and then read from a prepared statement in which he made a number of points.

“Our councilor’s letter does not represent the majority of the residents of his ward in this matter,” said Cataldo, taking direct aim at Serino. “None of us can begin to understand his logic. The August trial had a positive effect on 42 homes, but negatively impacted the other 349 homes in the neighborhood, which has been a mess since the trial was implemented. We ask that the trial be rescinded.

“Two streets (Sigourney and Derby) have become private, ultra-quiet streets at the expense of the rest of the ward,”  Cataldo continued. “We cannot continue to move the problem to neighboring streets without data from the traffic study.

“Speed is a major problem on our streets and needs to be addressed, which is separate from traffic flow and volume,” Cataldo added.

Cataldo also made the point that returning the traffic configuration to its original directions will provide accurate data for the impending traffic study.

Mary Gandolfo, of 619 Washington Ave., added, “We’re inundated with traffic all the time and the speeding is horrendous, day and night. I’m just looking for a safe route for my senior friends and me to get to Market Basket safely.”

Former Revere police sergeant Chris Giannino interjected another twist for the commission’s consideration when he pointed out that the State Highway Dept. must approve any changes to a roadway that intersects a state highway. So even if the commission were inclined to keep Derby as a one-way, the state would have to approve it because Squire Rd. is a state roadway.

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, Fire Chief Chris Bright, and City Planner Frank Stringi.

After the residents had completed their comments, Argenzio asked his fellow commissioners for their thoughts. Stringi started it off.

“I think it’s clear to say that the changes we made did not go far enough to allow the improvements that we expected,” said Stringi. “Sigourney and Derby saw tremendous improvements, but Keayne, Augustus and parts of Grover did not see any improvements at all. Their traffic increased dramatically.

“Derby seems to be working out now the way it is and with Popeye’s coming, it certainly would benefit Derby St. residents to keep it the way it is. I’m wondering if we can keep Derby the way it is presently,” Stringi added, echoing the position espoused by Serino.

Police Chief Callahan asked whether the commission could have a brief recess to talk about it among themselves. However, he was reminded by Argenzio that to do so would violate the state’s Open Meeting Law.

“I want to thank everyone for being civil,” Callahan then said. “I really had no idea how bad the traffic was going down those streets and we need an in-depth study by a professional who can give us some options for the neighborhood. The entire neighborhood needs relief.”

However, it was Rystrom who eventually stepped up to the plate, offering a formal motion to end the 60-day trial, noting that Derby and Sigourney should return to their original configuration during the pendency of the traffic study.

Rystrom’s motion quickly was seconded and then was approved unanimously by his fellow commissioners without further discussion.

In other business before the commission, the commissioners approved the creation of handicapped parking spaces at 22 Suffolk Ave. and 39 Larkin St. Ralph DeCicco, the chairman of the Revere Commission on Disabilities, presented the petitions on behalf of the residents. There was no opposition.

The commission also heard from a resident at 74 Victoria Ave., who previously had petitioned the commission for a handicapped spot in front of her home which was denied by the commission. The resident told the commission that she rents her apartment, but is not allowed to park in the driveway by the landlord, thereby requiring her to park across the street from her residence.

However, the problem is that 74 Victoria St. is on the side of the street that prohibits parking on that side.

“We have consistently denied anyone in that situation,” said Argenzio.

However, the commission said it will try to talk to the landlord and figure out whether something can be done to provide her with some avenue of relief.

The commission also referred to public hearings a number of matters:

— A request by Ward 3 Councilor Anthony Cogliandro for a Do Not Enter Sign at the corner of Roosevelt and Revere Sts. from 7:30-9:00 AM and 1:30-3:00 PM;

— Another request by Cogliandro for No Parking Anytime signage on Lantern Rd. from Squire Rd. to Ward St.;

— A request by Ward 1 Councilor Joanne McKenna for stop signs at the intersection of Vinal and Haddon Sts.; and

— A request by the Community Development Office to remove 30, multi-unit properties throughout the city, principally on Revere Beach Blvd., Ocean Ave., No. Shore Rd., and Shirley Ave., from being eligible for resident parking stickers.

The commission then adjourned until its November meeting.

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