Neighbors look to slow speeders

June 3, 2014

Greenfield — Greenfield staff will circle around and see if there is another way, other than a controversial mid-block traffic circle to slow down speeders on Howard Avenue.

A proposal to create a raised intersection met with a lukewarm reception from neighborhood residents at Greenfield's Board of Public Works meeting last week.

The city and residents have struggled for months to come up with a way to slow drivers down on a portion of Howard Avenue. The circle was installed last fall between 39th and 40th streets. Residents have many objections to the circle, with the main one being that they have lost street parking in front of their homes because of it. They also said the circle creates a safety hazard and doesn't work that well to slow traffic anyway.

The raised intersection is a gentler version of speed bumps or speed tables. Cars go up an incline into the intersection and down to street level on the other side. Objections to the raised intersection focused mainly on the bumpouts included in the plan. Bumpouts would narrow the intersection so drivers slow down.

However, the bumpouts would take away two parking spaces on each side of the intersection. Officials had argued that the homes losing the spaces are at corners and can park on the side street.

The staff will come back to the board July 22 with alternatives. They might include a version of the raised intersection, raised crosswalks, a more sophisticated form of a mid-block traffic circle, more speed limit signs, some with LED lights, or even speed bumps, Richard Sokol, director of neighborhood services, said after the meeting.

It depends on whether Howard Avenue is reconstructed next year, he said.

"The street is in horrible condition," Sokol said, but the $600,000 price tag is a big obstacle. If the reconstruction happens, the raised crosswalk or a more sophisticated traffic circle might be proposed, he said.

But neighbor LouAnne Fetzer said after the meeting that the city doesn't have to go to all that trouble.

"My suggestion would have been to mark the crosswalks. There are no markings at all," she said. She would like crosswalks marked at every intersection from 40th to 35th streets, she said. And maybe install a flashing sign and a sign warning of children in the area, Fetzer said.

She was dubious about the raised intersection idea.

"I don't know if a raised intersection would solve the problem," she said. "They would get off it and speed down the road anyway."

Several neighbors argued for assigning a police officer to the area to deter speeders. But so many streets have speeding problems, police would not be practical, Sokol said.

"I don't know what the answer is, but we're unhappy" Fetzer said. "We're not giving up."

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