The Town of Wellesley is mulling over the pros and cons of installing a traffic light at what might be the toughest meeting place in town—the Cedar, Hastings, and Hunnewell intersection. That challenging area near Fiske Elementary School brings not only upwards of 7,000 vehicles a day, but a lot of baggage to the discussion on what do do with them all.
As things stand right now, the Town must decide if installing a traffic light would be significantly beneficial in this complicated location, and they’re looking for residents’ input. Share your thoughts at a Zoom meeting on Monday, Jan. 30 at 6:00 p.m. Please sign up in advance.
Where the rubber meets the road
In a report from the town’s Traffic Committee, a laundry list of challenges at the busy roadway were ticked off. Poor sight lines. The awkward geometry of the roadway. Ingrained behaviors of those who travel the route.
The town has looked at installing a mirror to aid drivers. Apparently, that wouldn’t be pretty. “A mirror is not a solution at this location based upon the sight distance, speed and volume of vehicles,” the Traffic Committee said in its report.
How about a roundabout? The research suggests that could work for the nameless, faceless 7,000 who zip through the current intersection daily. But for the six Wellesley homeowners who would have to give up significant land to the town to make a roundabout work? Not so much.
What about speed bumps? The Wellesley Traffic Committee isn’t a fan, citing expected limited effectiveness as well as undesirable results such as increased noise and exhaust, as well as vehicle damage.
How about one of those flashing yellow lights? The Committee says a flashing yellow light would likely have little to no effect on driver behavior. Seems the regulars know the terrain, they navigate it in their own way, and are unlikely to be bossed around by the kind of light that, let’s face it, most people take as a suggestion.
Perhaps make Hastings Street a one-way from Cedar St. toward Fiske School? The Committee says such a plan “would create less overall traffic at the intersection, since there would no longer be exiting traffic. It would remove the uncomfortable turn exiting Hastings St, thereby removing the most difficult sight lines for turning.”
Good points, but the Committee also points out that Hastings Street residents would have to leave their homes only in one direction, and Fiske school traffic would be forced onto surrounding streets. Doesn’t sound like a plan for neighborhood harmony.
The Committee, feeling that there are limited options to mitigating concerns at this intersection, is seeking a resolution that is, at the very least, “significantly beneficial at this location.” A full-blown traffic light could go up. Calling it a solution to the problem would be a stretch. The good news: ease of entering and exiting the minor roads (Hasting/McLean) would likely improve with the addition of a fully signalized traffic light. The bad news: the roadway sight lines are poor, which could cause an increase in rear end collisions. Traffic backups are likely, as is an increase in emissions from stop-and-go traffic.
This call-and-response of “here’s an idea” and “here’s why it won’t work” is what the Committee is talking about when they said in their report, “Addressing one situation will likely cause the worsening of a different situation.”
Share your thoughts at a Zoom meeting on Monday, Jan. 30 at 6p.m. Please sign up in advance.
If you are unable to take part in the Zoom meeting, please email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
A swell memory
If you sense that Mrs. Swellesley seems just a teensy bit more excited about traffic reporting than your average journalist, you’d be right. Her dad was a transportation engineer for the City of New Haven. Working through thorny traffic problems like the one above was regular dinner conversation. By the time I could see over the dash of the family Oldsmobile, I could point out a jug-handle turn; tell you why a particular intersection experienced high-efficient (or low-efficient) traffic flow; and knew why signs that said, “don’t event THINK of parking here” weren’t funny. Answer: parking is serious business, not a joke, missy.
Keep the clouds moving in a free-flow manner up there, dad.