Traffic Comm. Will Seek To Include MassDOT for Changes to the Malden St.-Squire Rd. Area

The Revere Traffic Commission once again took up the matter of trying to provide traffic relief for the neighborhood of the grid of streets between Malden St. and Squire Rd. at its monthly meeting last Thursday. But as has been the case for the past few months, no resolution was reached. Chairperson Paul Argenzio, who is the Supt. of the Revere DPW, and fellow commissioners Police Chief David Callahan, City Planner Frank Stringi, and Fire Chief Chris Bright were in attendance for another round of discussions of the issue. The commission voted last August to implement traffic measures that reduced traffic on some of the side streets, but which predictably resulted in diverting that traffic onto adjacent streets.  The commission then reversed that course of action and voted to reinstate the original configuration, but hired a traffic consultant in order to survey the issue and to make recommendations. The commission has held three meetings with the consultant firm, HNTB, and has heard extensively from the residents. However, as has been the case previously, no resolution was reached.  At the end of last Thursday’s discussion, the commission voted to contact MassDOT, which ultimately must approve any changes to signage for streets that intersect a state highway, which in this case is Squire Rd. Paul Nelson made a brief presentation on behalf of HNTB.  “We heard a lot of concern from residents at the last meeting that the issue we should be addressing is traffic volume, not speed,” said Nelson, who also noted that the volume of trucks and other heavy vehicles also was a major concern of residents. In addition, the other major issue raised by the residents included the impending opening of the Popeye’s Restaurant at the corner of Derby St. and Squire Rd. and the need to address the anticipated increase in traffic from that business as soon as possible. Nelson said HNTB reviewed the videos of the company hired by HNTB to make the actual traffic counts. With regard to the traffic volumes on Sigourney St. and Derby Rd,  there were 221 and 304 cars per hour on Sigourney St. and 85 and 78 cars per hour on Derby Rd.  during the afternoon peak hours. Nelson said there were two potential immediate options. The first is a “diagonal diverter” at Derby Rd. and Grover St. that would discourage traffic from Popeye’s from using Derby Rd. and Sigourney St. to return to Squire Rd. This would result in a potential volume reduction of 35%. The other is a median barrier on Malden St. at Sigourney St. to prevent left turns from the southern end of Sigourney St. This could reduce traffic by as much as 31%.  However, Nelson acknowledged that both options would shift the traffic onto adjacent streets.  In addition, Nelson said that HNTB will be recommending “traffic calming” measures, such as speed humps and sidewalk curb extensions, in order to slow down traffic on Sigourney and Charger Sts. Nelson paused to allow comments from residents.  Kelly Resendes of 75 Grover St. was the first resident to address the commissioners. “We’re not looking to push the traffic onto other streets,” she said. “What about posting signs allowing through-traffic during certain hours for residents only, as well as reducing the width of Sigourney St.?” “ ‘Resident only’ signage would be difficult to enforce,” noted Argenzio, but added the commission would consider it. Nelson also said that a long-term modification would be petitioning Mass DOT to provide access from Squire Rd. onto Patriot Parkway in order to help relieve the traffic flow onto the side streets.  However, that suggestion drew opposition. “I grew up on Pitcairn St.” said Ralph DeCicco of 49 Washington St. “Now that you’ve opened up Patriot Parkway to Squire Rd., why would we want another opening onto Squire Rd.? Why can’t we petition MassDOT to close off  the entrances from Squire Rd. onto these side streets?  They’ve done this in richer communities. This would eliminate all of the traffic from Squire Rd. onto the streets in this neighborhood.” “I see two impacts to Augustus St. from these suggestions, both of which will increase the traffic on Augustus St.,” said Gennaro Cataldo of 35 Augustus St.. Christina Robertson of 187 Charger St. noted that the plan does not address the high volume of traffic on her street.  “It took me 15 minutes to get out of my driveway this evening,” said Robertson, who expressed her disappointment that the proposals do not address the heavy volume on Charger St.  “Unfortunately, this is a no-win situation for anyone in the neighborhood,” she added,  Ralph Ciano of 156 Lantern Rd. offered his views. “I empathize with the residents of  the other streets, but Lantern Rd. seems to be the step-child of these streets,” said Ciano, whose family built its home in 1956, when the Revere Airport occupied the land of the Northgate Shopping Center. Ciano spoke of the “nightmare” that Lantern Rd. residents have been living with.  He described speeding and high traffic volumes. He also noted the heavy equipment vehicles from the Revere DPW en route to the city yard off Squire Rd., as well as the “relentless” flow of smaller trucks from Amazon and other businesses. “I’m not sure what the answer is, but please give the hard-working, tax-paying citizens of Revere who live here some degree of relief from this nightmare,” concluded Ciano. “Obviously this isn’t an easy issue,” said Argenzio, who suggested that the city’s state representatives should become involved in order to have MassDOT brought into the process. Stringi noted that the state actually had a plan from 20 years ago that would have eliminated the intersections that are now problematic in order to keep the traffic on Squire Rd. flowing smoothly, but never moved forward with them. “They never did it because we’re Revere and I suggest that we need to stick together to get this done,” said DeCicco. “Squire Rd. should not be a burden to the people in this area. Neighborhoods in Peabody and Danvers have had similar medians closed, but we in Revere have had no similar relief. Our state delegation needs to put pressure on them. We also need to eliminate the rotaries like they did at Wellington Circle. Why is Revere always forgotten?” Argenzio concluded the session by stating that MassDOT will be contacted and that the commission will reconvene when it hears back from the state agency. In other matters, the commission also took up the recommendations for traffic safety and improvements being proposed by HYM, the developer of Suffolk Downs. Mike Borowski from HYM and Ian McKinnon from Howard Stein Hudson, a traffic engineering firm, made presentations to the commission. Borowski briefly updated the commission on the progress of the Suffolk Downs project. He said that the first set of buildings is ready for construction near the Beachmont T Station. He said there will be traffic improvements in Donnelly Square and on Winthrop Ave. going to the Revere Beach Parkway. There also will be improvements at the public safety building on the Parkway and construction of a new crosswalk near Revere High School. McKinnon went into the details of the measures for the first nine areas of the total of 62 locations slated for traffic improvements that will be undertaken when the project is fully built-out. He outlined the improvements at the public safety building, including new sidewalks and a switch at the fire station that will allow responders to operate the lights on the Parkway to allow for unrestricted access out of, and into, the fire station. As for the need for a safe crossing for students from Revere High into the Shirley Ave. neighborhood, there will be a new intersection with lights and sidewalks in order to improve safety for students. Finally, McKinnon added that there will be new bicycle paths on Winthrop Ave. and Bennington St. and a connection to the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway that traverses into East Boston.  HYM requested a public hearing for next month to address the proposed redesign of the intersection of Crescent Ave. and Bennington St. that will improve pedestrian safety in that area. Another matter that will be the subject of the public hearing next month will be changes to the existing bus stops on Winthrop Ave. to improve safety. Another issue for next month is a proposed change to the entrance to Suffolk Downs from Winthrop Ave. The final item for next month’s public hearing will take up the proposal for changes at the intersection of Route 16 and Route 145 to improve safety and access and provide relief from traffic congestion on Harris St., which, McKinnon said, sees 2400 cars per day. Police Chief Callahan however, noted, “As many as 3600 cars per day use Harris St. and these residents need relief.” However, city councillors Ira Novoselsky and Joanne McKenna pointed out in a letter that was read by Argenzio that the proposed changes to Harris St. will increase traffic on adjacent streets in the neighborhood. In another matter, there also was a request for a public hearing for a “No Parking from Here To Corner” sign at the intersection of Patriot Parkway and Pitcairn St. from City Councillor Anthony Cogliandro. The commissioners voted to move that matter to a public hearing for next month. The final matter of the evening involved a discussion by DeCicco, the chairman of the Commission on Disabilities, who addressed the request for a handicapped parking spot for 37 Barrett St.  However, DeCicco noted that the petitioner still has not provided a registration indicating that the petitioner’s vehicle is registered in Revere. The commission voted to table the request pending receipt of the registration.

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