State slates Western Avenue hearing

WESTFIELD – City Engineer Mark Cressotti said Wednesday night that the state Department of Transportation has requestd another public informational meeting to discuss the design of improvements to Western Avenue.
That meeting is scheduled for Jan. 26 and will be held in the South Middle School auditorium.
Cressotti said the state is proposing further modification, including a 10-foot-wide multi-use trail as part of the DOT’s Complete Street program. The new proposal is to locate the trail on the north side for the street, principally along the property of Westfield State University.
Residents strongly opposed a similar trail proposed for the south side of the street earlier this year at a design review information meeting and that proposal lost the support of many local officials.
“The DOT has requested another information meeting to consider a multi-use trail on the north side of Western Avenue, the Westfield State University side,” Cressotti said. “About half of that trail would be on university property.”
Cressotti said the “intent of the Complete Streets program is to accommodate all modes of transportation” and suggested that the Traffic Commission is the proper local agency to “evaluate’ proposed changed under the DOT’s Complete Street program.
“The traffic commission is the most suitable,” Cressotti said.
In addition to Cressotti, the commission is composed of Police Chief John Camerota, Public Works Director Dave Billips, Brian Boldini, a retired police sergeant who was the department’s Traffic Bureau supervisor, and Thomas Liptak, who represented the interests of the business community on the commission.
In other business, the Traffic Commission voted to create an ordinance to control the installation of crosswalks. That discussion came following installation of a crosswalk at the Abner Gibbs School next to the intersection of Noble Street where many parents park while awaiting the dismissal of class.
Camerota said that he then had to find funding for a crossing guard who was posted at the new crosswalk.
Camerota suggested that the commission develop an ordinance which would require a review and recommendation by the Traffic Commission and an ordinance approval by the City Council.
“Right now there is no ordinance that directs where crosswalks should be located,“ Camerota said.
Cressotti said that the current practice is that crosswalks are installed by the Department of Public Works at the directive of the mayor.
“There should be more thought and planning as to the placement of crosswalks,” Cressotti said.

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