Newton DPW CommissionerDavid Turocy sent this email to aldermen…
Honorable Board of Aldermen,
As you are aware, this Summer we have modified the intersection of Parker and Cypress Streets at Centre Street in Newton Centre, giving priority to vehicles on Centre Street by adding a stop sign on Cypress Street. We have also narrowed this intersection to reduce the crossing distance for pedestrians. This work was undertaken in an attempt to address long-standing vehicular and pedestrian concerns at this intersection, and was funded through the Mass Works program associated with the Chestnut Hill Square development project. This project was proposed by Public Works, and approved by both the Traffic Council and Board of Aldermen, through the Public Facilities Committee.
Although we have not yet completed all the construction work associated with this project, it is apparent that this new configuration has created significant traffic congestion on Cypress Street. Many of the initial delays were due to the construction process itself, as well as driver confusion and hesitancy in heeding the changes. While the delays have been reduced due to increased driver familiarity (and, of course, less summer traffic), I believe the intersection will continue to operate in a failing manner, particularly when students return to Bowen, Day and Oak Hill schools in the fall and more typical traffic volumes resume. Furthermore, the Real Property Reuse Committee recently began review of the former Health Department building which, along with possible changes to the Cypress Street parking lot, could effect traffic patterns in this vicinity and should be evaluated further. For these reasons, DPW will be removing the recently installed curbing and restoring the intersection back to its original configuration. I intend to begin these changes within the next week. Before the current Board Order authorizing the current work is fully implemented, I believe it is in the best interest of the city to restore the original configuration immediately. We will then work with the Board, and Traffic Council, to develop a recommended plan going forward.
We will continue with our other scheduled work in Newton Centre, including the revised pedestrian signals with concurrent crossing with traffic, as well as pedestrian bump-outs at Centre and Pleasant/Pelham Streets and the Centre Green, to be followed by re-surfacing on Centre, Beacon and Lyman Streets later this summer. I would like to stress to the Board that public safety is a priority for the DPW and we will continue to examine this site to seek alternate methods to address the concerns we have there and throughout Newton Centre.
Thank you for your input and understanding during this process. If you have any further questions regarding this work, please feel free to contact me.