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Stoughton Officials Announce Proposed Traffic Improvements for Hansen School Area

The goal of the proposed Central St./West St. intersection redesign is to make the area safer for pedestrians and motorists.

Following the death of three-year-old Shayla Lutz of Stoughton who was struck by a box truck in front of the Hansen Elementary School in a tragic accident the afternoon of Sept. 14, town leaders met Sept. 27 to discuss traffic safety concerns in the Hansen area and throughout the town.

With a relocated crosswalk and an added sidewalk on Central Street and a striped sidewalk painted across the Hansen School parking lot, short-term safety improvements announced at this Sept. 27 meeting are already in place.

Three weeks after this meeting, officials met again, Thursday, Oct. 18, in the Hansen School lobby to announce proposed long-term improvements to the Central Street and West Street intersection at a press conference.

"We pulled together as a community, both the schools and the municipal side in order to address this particular issue," Interim Town Manager Joseph Feaster said.

"As a response to the tragic death of Shayla Lutz outside [the Hansen], we decided that we would convene everybody who would have a part in making this particular area of Stoughton and others safe for children and all pedestrians in general," Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marguerite Rizzi said.

Currently there is a 120-foot crosswalk with no island spanning the Central St./West St. intersection. The intersection currently has two entry points for one lane. The intersection is unsafe for both vehicles and pedestrians, Assistant Town Engineer Mark Tisdale said at Thursday's press conference.

Instead of this current "Y" layout for the intersection, a proposed overhaul of the intersection would create a more standard "T" geometry, Tisdale said, which will feature a more narrow intersection with just one lane of entry.

In place of a 120-foot crosswalk with no island, there would be a 70-foot crossing area with a large pedestrian island.

In order to improve traffic flow, there will be a left and right turn only lane on West Street to enter Central Street. And, there will be the addition of a left-hand turning lane on Central Street at Central and West for cars traveling north on Route 27/Central Street (towards Canton) and taking a left on to West Street.

Other proposed improvements for the area include installing an island at the Central Street driveway to the Hansen School to promote a right turn only on to Central Street.

And, flashing school zone signs on Central Street will be relocated to provide an increase in sight distance and driver awareness.

These proposed changes, are just that - a proposal - officials stressed. There will be further analysis of this conceptual plan, making sure it does not negatively impact any of the other nearby intersections on Central Street, Tisdale said.

The plan was done keeping in mind the possibility of the Woodbridge Development, located across from the Hansen School and this intersection, coming to fruition.

The proposed timeline for reconstructing the Central/West intersection has bot been determined.

Already in place, however, are some short-term traffic solutions in the Hansen area.

The crosswalk on Central Street, just past the Central/West intersection, has been painted over and moved to in front of the Hansen School's Central Street driveway. A sidewalk has been constructed on the other side of this crosswalk, across from the Hansen driveway.

The sight lines are better in this area and it will be safer to cross there, officials say.

Dr. Rizzi said that since this new crosswalk would only serve a small number of students a crossing guard would not be placed there.

A striped crosswalk has also been painted on the Hansen School's Central Street parking lot, marking a path across the parking lot to the school. This striped crosswalk lines up with the new Central St. crosswalk.

John Batchelder, the Superintendent of Public Works in Stoughton, said he would like to see the addition of a pedestrian crossing light at this new crosswalk.

Altering the circulation plan for pickup/drop off within the Hansen School parking lot will also be considered, Dr. Rizzi said.

In addition to just the Central/West intersection and Hansen area, safety on Route 27 and throughout the town is being examined.

"Route 27 is constructed for accidents," Police Chief Paul Shastany said. "It's not if, but when."

Batchelder said the Old Colony Planning Council is investigating all intersections from Avon to Canton on Central Street. The DPW has also added extra striping at a number of crosswalks throughout town.

Sen. Joyce offered support on behalf of Stoughton's State House delegation.

"I'm happy to work with Rep. Galvin, Rep. Kafka and certainly with Mr. Feaster and other town officials to provide whatever the state can to avoid any such tragedies in the future and to allow other children to safely grow and flourish at [the Hansen School]," Joyce said at Thursday's press conference.

Hansen School Principal Faye Polillio, Stoughton Police Safety Officer Lt. Michael Blount, Stoughton Police Officer Shawn Faria, Stoughton Fire Department Captain Jim Bertram, Town Planner Noreen O'Toole, Selectman Cynthia Walsh, Ted Philips from the State Representative Lou Kafka's office, and Raymond Guarino from the Old Colony Planning Council joined Sen. Joyce, Superintendent Rizzi, Interim Town manager Feaster, Chief Shastany, Batchelder and Tisdale at the press conference.

michd October 19, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Why not a traffic light? There have been a number of accidents in that area for YEARS and now a death and still no proposal for a needed traffic light? Our town is turning into a small city, it is highly congested throughout the day and this area specifically needs a traffic light. Central/West and Central/Island are very, very dangerous. There also NEEDS to be sidewalks for students to walk to/from school along ALL of West St. Students are not just walking to the Hansen but to the Middle and High School too. And what is with the "painted" Stop sign just feet after the regular red Stop sign on West street (coming from thee Little League field). I don't know the name of that street where the Little League field is but when you turn left out of the fields, and stop at the red Stop sign at the end of the street to turn right on to West St. there is a painted stop sign on the road just feet after the Red stop sign, are you suppose to stop at the painted stop sign too (and possibly get hit from behind) or are drivers allowed to proceed without stopping? It's very confusing and if that's not taken care of soon, expect another accident.
d barrett October 19, 2012 at 05:05 PM
DB Perhaps a flashing red/yellow? Has anyone thought about the issues in West Street by the school. The fact that the houses across the street have to walk their kids to that intersection to cross but no sidewalks... All the cars park on the road and create their own traffic hazards. Everyone knows that cars spee down that part of the road, do we need to have another accident for the town to take action or can we address the entire situation at once? Time to do something different and be proactive instead of reactive.
michd October 19, 2012 at 05:41 PM
That's why there needs to be a TRAFFIC LIGHT. Sidewalks, or lack there of is a HUGE issue in this town. There are limited sidewalks. No sidewalks on West St., Bay Road, portions of Central St. etc. These are ALL main streets with tons of children. It is unsafe. Painting over a crosswalk that should have NEVER been in place to begin with and having a Police Officer cut back bushes/shrubs (yes, I saw him with hedge clippers on a weekend day) across the street from West school just isn't "cutting it". There needs to be a Traffic Light and sidewalks in place. Also, the town NEEDS to look at the ELM st./West.St. area. There is a Stop Sign and then a painted Stop sign feet away from the actual stop sign. I have seen vehicles stop at both and I've also seen vehicles just stop at the original red Stop sign. Which is it? There are essentially 2 Stop Signs in one are within feet from each other. It is dangerous, unsafe and someone will inevitably get rear-ended.
Danga October 19, 2012 at 08:35 PM
I agree with you there Michelle. I am not sure the name of that street but in the town's attempts to improve that intersection they only made it worse. I too don't know where is the correct place to stop and so I just stop at both. Going the other directions I even worse. You can't see past the fense if oncoming cars are headed towward you. You just have to floor the gas and pray you make it across the street.
Fiscal Conservative October 20, 2012 at 11:39 AM
Too little, too late. MA drivers are notoriously regarded as some of the rudest, reckless drivers in the country. Courtesy is never a word in their vocabulary. A light, thats funny. Yellow means "speed up", Red means "I'll go through if no one is looking. A physical presence may be the only solution to the problem. The town "found" the $$$ for a hundred yard, foolish Sidewalk, and maybe some paint for a crosswalk. Don't you think they could find the $$$ for a Crossing Guard for 2 hrs a day, 180 days a year. That's 360 hrs/yr @ roughly $10/hr OR $3,600/yr. If the $$$ can't be found (which I doubt) maybe the Superindent would give up part of her $28K raise. If she really cares about children I think she would be more than willingly to do so. Again, too little, too late. Nothing will bring back this precious little girl. Town Meeting, next year, darn well, better approve the $$$ for Crossing Guards at EVERY dangerous intersection. If they don't, they will be NEGLIGENT in their elected duties to the children of the town. Problem is, some members of Town Meeting will be dumb enough to fight this small expenditure of funds, like they fight EVERY expenditure. People know who they are, they better call them next year and let they know that PROTECTING children is far more important than saving a few $$$.
Tim Corkum October 20, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Why don't you ask that Idiot Kafka where the traffic light is going to go? They are putting one up near Knolls-brook(Erin Dr) so he doesn't have to wait to long to get out of where he lives. The Town told him NO, it wasn't needed so he got the state to put 500K aside to build it instead! I think most would agree the school area or the Island St intersection would be much smarter place for it. Even better if they took Island St and ran a new road so it came out at the West st intersection with stop lights. It would kill 2 birds with one stone. VOTE KAFKA out of office!
michd October 21, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Tim, Reread the article. They are not going to put the traffic light there after all.
Vicki October 22, 2012 at 02:02 PM
How about crossing guards every place a kid has to cross a street. Just last week I saw two boys crossing from Canton St by Simpson St in the crosswalk and almost got hit by a car, by INCHES they were missed. When I called Dr. Rizzi's office I was told there was a study and NO crossing was needed there. This was at 7:20am! These two boys stopped and looked to make sure no one was coming and the person who was taking a left from Simpson St (coming from the ODMS) onto Canton St, just took the left. The two boys were in the middle of the crosswalk. The way this town is acting they are looking for another accident and maybe a lawsuit will wake them up. Putting crossing guards or putting the buses back into the budget will be cheaper than a lawsuit.
michd October 24, 2012 at 04:14 PM
FYI, I guess someone from the town read my previous post, the removed the added painted stop sign on Elm/West St. by placing black paint over each individual letter. All though not the most visually appealing way to make the change, at least a change was made to prevent accidents.
Beck January 15, 2013 at 08:52 PM
It is really too bad all these months later, cars/18 wheelers are still speeding day and night. Zero police presence or enforcement. No one does the 35 mph speed limit and forget about 20 mph school zone, it is a joke. I live next to Hansen and work M-F, but recently I took a few days off and I was absolutely appalled that nothing has been done at all, besides adding a crosswalk...but if cars are going 45-55 mph and pedestrians can't safely cross, who cares about a crosswalk.
Just Saying January 15, 2013 at 09:50 PM
You are right. Immediately following the accident that killed Shayla, a cop was parked across from Hansen on Central St. for a week or two, but that is the extent of the school zone speed enforcement.
michd January 16, 2013 at 04:30 AM
speaking of crosswalk, the crosswalk that was "painted over" in black paint near the Hansen school has been washed away so the original crosswalk is visible again. A similar problem on West St./Elm St. (I think it's Elm St. it's the street where the Little League fields are). The Stop sign painted over in black, the black paint washed away which could cause a potentially fatal accident. There are 2 Stop signs withing feet of each other. The town attempted to resolve the problem by painting one of the Stop signs over in black paint - apparently in washable paint. These two areas could cause yet another accident
Just Saying January 16, 2013 at 01:32 PM
Also, there are no sidewalks on Elm St. & most of West St. And, of course, no buses! Not very safe, especially when it's snowy/icy, like today.

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