Elm Street traffic discussed

WESTFIELD – The Traffic Commission discussed construction and its impact to traffic flow along the Elm Street corridor Wednesday night.
City Engineer Mark Cressotti, a member of the commission, said the recent reopening of the old Great River Bridge to southbound traffic has greatly improved the flow of traffic through that construction area.
“The bridge is working well,” Cressotti, a Prospect Hill resident who crossed through that area several times a day, said. “There are still issues which need to be addressed.”
“Confusion is the biggest issue, but we’re not at full build out yet,” Cressotti said. “When the work is complete, it should address most of those outstanding issues.”
Police Chief John Camerota, chairman of the Traffic Commission, said that the feedback the Police Department is receiving about the traffic flow over the two bridges is positive.
“I’m hearing that people are ecstatic, that they’re getting to their destinations 20 minutes quicker,” Camerota said.
The board discussed the traffic flow at the south end of the bridge construction site where three lanes of traffic are being funneled into a single lane. Cressotti said that one of those lanes is dedicated for southbound traffic to access Meadow Street, but that motorist in the two remaining lanes are confused at the point where the road becomes a single lane.
Several members of the commission questioned the configuration of Elm Street between the bridge site and Franklin Street, asking if the street would be configured to four lanes, two in each direction. Cressotti said that would require the city to eliminate parking and dedicated turning lanes to accomplish. The current traffic configuration has a southbound right turn lane at Orange Street and a dedicated left turn lane at Bartlett Street. The southbound lane broadens to three lanes at Franklin Street to facilitate traffic turning onto Franklin Street as well as two lanes along the southern section of Elm Street between Franklin Street and the Park Square Green.
Cressotti said the four lanes in that section will be marked for through traffic and for dedicated left turn lanes.
“We’re not designing a highway through the downtown,” he said. “We did look at four lanes, but that would wipe out parking and much of the sidewalks as well. We’d be talking at cutting back sidewalks from the present eight feet to four feet.
“We want to accommodate traffic flow, but we also want the downtown to be a place where pedestrians feel safe,” he said. “The idea is to get vehicles through the downtown area, but we don’t want them to fly through there.”
Camerota said that he would inspect the problem area at the southern end of the bridge sight with the Traffic & Safety Bureau.
“We may need to put in signage to warn motorists they will be merging into one lane,” he said.
Signage was an issue raised by an Elm Street property owner in the area of the bridge project.
Vincent D. Ciancotti, who owns the building at 344 Elm St., which used to be the Soo’s Restaurant, said that a one-way sign was erected at the exit of Emery Street. The problem is that the street has no other access.
“I think it’s illegal because it’s a private way,” Ciancotti said. “There are several houses and apartments behind my building and the residents can’t legally get there, they have to go down Cowles Court and cut across the lot to get to their homes. There are three of four easements and rights of way held by those property owners.
“I have a couple of people who are interested in my property, but if they can’t access parking behind the building, it’s a problem. It’s just not right,” he said.
Cressotti said that the sign may have been erected in error by the construction workers.
“A one-way designation is a City Council issue. It requires a public hearing and an ordinance,” Cressotti said. “If they just put the sign up, we can take it down.”
Camerota said that the one-way designation has not come before the Traffic Commission or the City Council.
“I’ll go down there (Thursday) and look at it,” Camerota said. “If it’s not legal, we have the authority to do something to resolve the issue.”

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top