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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Traffic planning?

Massachusetts drivers and pedestrians are not the most patient lot, as we can all attest. Those facts are crucial factors in a disaster waiting to happen along Beacon Street in Brookline.

The latest saga in a multi-year "upgrade" is pedestrian crossing lights in Coolidge Corner that are timed just long enough to get a person to the middle of the wide road. You know, so you are standing on the MBTA right-of-way.

Town officials point the fingers at MassHighway, who, they say, are simply trying to improve traffic flow. Oh really? Have they ever tried to walk or drive down either Beacon or Harvard streets. These are supposed to be "smart lights"?

Traffic crossing Beacon Street always jams up outside the CVS, leaving pedestrians crossing Harvard with the walk light to play chicken with cars that have run the red signal. Traffic going up and down Beacon already has itchy accelerator feet because of all the new traffic lights added along the street -- none of which seem to be timed to do anything other than create stop and go, block-by-block traffic jams.

Bu the Beacon Street pedestrian timing is the ultimate in lethal foolishness.

A town traffic engineer says they know there is a problem but they have no control over the project as long as the state is involved. The Tab reporter would have done well to ask the engineer why this is only a recent change and why the crossing signs that counted down the time you had to cross were changed.

It would have also been good to understand why the audible signals don't tell you what street is safe to cross -- an admittedly annoying drone unless you happen to be blind.

And it would have been helpful to ask MassHighway officials why they seem to know the situation on the ground better than the locals.

As it stands now, the green light for both cars and pedestrians is too short to accomplish anything good. Traffic will bunch up when antsy drivers try to make it across the broad intersection -- and pedestrians are encouraged to jaywalk by a too-short signal.

And I won't even get into the issue of making Green Line trains stop for a traffic light every block. Hey Joe Pesaturo, will the T benefit if it doesn't get sued for hitting the pedestrians bunched up along the tracks waiting for the light to cross?

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