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North Adams Traffic Commission Recommends Metered Space on Ashland
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
01:14AM / Tuesday, May 21, 2019
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The commission voted 4-1 to send the recommendation to the City Council.


The Traffic Commission meets Monday at City Hall. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Traffic Commission is recommending that seven metered spaces be installed on the east side of Ashland Street between Summer and Quincy streets.
 
The board voted 4-1 to send the recommendation to the City Council with Commissioner MaryAnn King voting against. 
 
Glenn Maloney had appeared before the commission in March on behalf of Very Good Property Development, which had inquired more than a year ago about allowing parking in what is now a no-parking zone. The real estate development company owns the property at 48 Ashland. 
 
Maloney was seeking the addition of metered parking on the east side of Ashland to accommodate the development company's and other businesses along that side of the street. 
 
The major question was how the parking could impact the right-turning lane onto Summer Street. The commission voted to determine the length of turning lanes based on traffic manuals and that, once determined, to measure what standard parking could be implemented along that section of road. 
 
Commissioner Amanda Chilson said she had spoken with state Department of Transportation officials but wasn't able to get any definite criteria related to right-turning lanes.
 
"They couldn't give me a specific anything, like in a manual," she said, but she was able to get the regulations from the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control for crosswalks. "It's in the manual that parking spaces must at least 20 feet back from crosswalks at a signal intersections."
 
There are crosswalks at Summer and Quincy so the measurements would have to start back from those. 
 
"With the lane configuration, there's no simple answer," she repeated from her conversations with MassDOT. "The traffic section advises that a traffic engineer be hired to do a traffic study to determine what effects any changes to lane configuration would have on safety and capacity along Ashland Street."
 
Chilson said she had repeated the questions about parking spots in right-turning lanes and was told only that there are many factors that determine that such as the intersection's overcapacity level, crash data and turning movements.
 
She also noted that Ashland Street will be redone for a state Complete Street project, which is on the county's Transportation Improvement Plan for funding. That could mean a bike lane through that area but that didn't mean you couldn't park there. 
 
King and Commissioner Paul Markland, the city's highway foreman, said they had addressed a similar situation with a parking on Eagle Street and the right-turn lane onto Main Street.
 
When the city had put in the right-turn lanes years ago, there had been one more metered spot on Eagle that the state said had to be removed. 
 
"We had a to pull that meter out because they said this lane has to be so long," King said.
 
The commissioners thought using that model should work because the Eagle and Main Street intersection is heavily used. 
 
King, however, felt that the discussion in March had pointed to the preference by the administration of having a traffic study should be done.
 
"There was actually quite a few issues and that's why we had to bring it back," she said, adding, "I think we need the engineering study before we do anything."
 
The commission still voted to recommend to the council. Chilson said the council could then decide to send it to the Public Safety Committee and possibly back to the commission before anything was decided. 
 
In other business, the commission reviewed a letter from Gail Burda about high hedges blocking sight lines when trying to exit from Olds Street onto Demond Avenue. Her letter was forwarded to Inspection Services since planting height is a code enforcement issue. 
 
Gary Rivers of Reservoir Road asked the commission to consider signage to reduce traffic along the roadway over concerns of a small luxury camping site being constructed on nearby Notch Road. He said there were several warning signs for pitch, curves and children but no speed signage. 
 
The commissioners asked him to place his concerns in writing so it would be on file. Chilson noted that the City Council has been debating a reduction in speed in residential zones from the standard 30 mph to 25 mph and that it might be better to wait before installing signage.
 
Chairman David Sacco said a request for speed limits signs could go to the Highway Department but Commissioner Eric Buddington asked that it also be placed on the next agenda for followup, including how far out the 25 mph proposal is. 
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