A slide from Selectman Leigh Davis’ presentation in the course of the board’s particular precedence planning assembly on Wednesday, July 1. Davis tried to persuade different board members to reopen a dialogue on visitors calming measures.
Great Barrington — Despite a number of pleas by Selectboard member Leigh Davis, the board won’t return on its earlier resolution on visitors calming measures.
Davis gave a presentation to the board throughout its particular precedence planning assembly on Wednesday, July 19 to persuade the board to reopen a dialogue on beforehand permitted measures.
Back on June 27, the board mentioned and debated visitors calming measures after representatives from the New England-based consulting firm BETA Group gave a presentation.
The board permitted a movement by Selectman Ed Abrahams to assemble a raised visitors island at Railroad Street, and a smaller painted visitors island at Rotary Way, which each intersect with Main Street on state Route 7.
The crosswalks will embody three visitors beacons within the Railroad Street crossing, and two visitors beacons within the Rotary Way crossing.
However, on the June 27 board assembly, Davis requested to reopen the dialogue and to carry again representatives from the BETA Group to focus on the plans.
Select Board Chairman Stephen Bannon initially instructed Davis “there is no turning around” and that “we’re moving ahead with this.”
However, Bannon ultimately relented to have the representatives come again at a future assembly.
At the July 19 assembly, Davis gave a presentation to the board on why she feels the discussions on the visitors calming measures ought to be reopened by the board.
In the primary few pages of her presentation, Davis confirmed pictures of a pedestrian visitors accident on Main Street, which Bannon objected to.
“You told me what you were going to put up was just what the raised islands look like, not dramatic slides of one person getting hit,” Bannon instructed Davis. “That’s really not necessary.”
Davis agreed to Bannon’s request and he or she left out discussing the accident pictures that had been in her presentation and moved ahead.
“One of the main reasons why I would like to reopen the discussions is that I would like the board to consider something called a ‘road diet’,” Davis stated. “This would be moving [Main Street] from a four-lane configuration to a three-lane configuration.”
As an instance of a present visitors drawback that could be solved by placing Main Street on a “traffic diet”, Davis stated that “when we come from Stockbridge Road from the north into downtown, it’s one lane. When we get downtown into the core, where the most pedestrians are around Elm Street, then it fans out into two lanes. What’s happening is a lot of the crashes that are happening are a result of a blind spot that happens with the two lanes.”
Davis stated that the “road diet” would create a “middle lane, which is a safe space.”
“The problem is that most of the accidents have been caused by a blind spot that’s caused by having two lanes traveling in the same direction,” Davis stated. “When a car stops [on Main Street] to let a pedestrian cross, it masks another car in the other lane and the pedestrian’s view of it.”
Davis stated that she met with engineers and an emergency responder when she developed her presentation, however she didn’t give the names of the individuals she met with.
“What [the emergency responder] said was that 90 percent of the accidents are caused by this two-lane configuration,” Davis stated. “What I’m suggesting is that we go on a ‘road diet’ that narrows the configuration in town.”
The different members of the board weren’t receptive to Davis’ presentation and request to reopen the dialogue on the visitors calming measures.
“I feel that the decisions that we previously made have created great improvement on pedestrian safety,” Selectman Eric Gabriel stated. “I feel pretty good about the improvements that we approved.”
Chairman Bannon agreed with Gabriel and stated “I think what we voted on will increase safety tremendously.”
“I thought the vote we took was clear,” Chairman Bannon stated. “I think there’s a misconception not by you, Leigh, but other members who maybe didn’t see the meeting is that we’ve voted to do nothing. And that’s just not the case. And I’m not taking any public comment, because this is just about the board.”
Davis made a movement to reopen the dialogue on visitors calming measures and to invite again members of the BETA Group for a gathering.
The movement was seconded by Selectman Garfield Reed for dialogue.
“I personally want no more money spent than we need to [spend],” Reed stated. “I’m concerned about the town spending more money than we have to if we have a model that works.”
“Garfield and I have been on the board for a little more than a year now, and this all came before us twice,” Selectman Gabriel stated. “I think we’ve made some good decisions. I think we just need to move forward with the decisions that were made.”
The majority of the board voted in opposition to Davis’ movement, leaving Davis herself as the only member to vote in favor.
Click here to see Select Board Member Leigh Davis’ full presentation proposing additional measures for pedestrian security in Great Barrington.
See video of the Great Barrington Select Board Special Priority Planning Meeting from July 20 under.