Safe in Swampscott

Traffic Study Advisory Committee does not sound like the most exciting public board ever created. But the committee bearing that name in Swampscott has recommended road safety changes aimed at saving lives in town.

All three of the proposals the committee recommended and the Board of Selectmen approved are important to people who live on local streets as well as drivers and pedestrians frequenting the town’s main thoroughfares.

The “speed table” proposed for the pedestrian crosswalk at Humphrey Street in front of St. John the Evangelist Church is a simple and straightforward approach to keep people crossing Humphrey Street safe and ensure drivers are paying attention to the crosswalk.

The primary traffic safety threats on Humphrey Street near St. John the Evangelist include the urge on the part of drivers to speed up and the solar glare that impairs a clear view of the crosswalk.

The table is basically a raised crosswalk with warning signs mounted near it and coated with reflecting paint to warn drivers to slow down. For the price incurred in spreading a layer of asphalt and installing signs, the town can improve safety at a crosswalk that has seen a fatality and a serious pedestrian accident in the last two years.

Making Humphrey Street safer is a town-wide concern, just as improving safety along Essex Street is important. Both streets access local neighborhoods but they are also pass-through routes for people traveling to Swampscott from other communities or commuters driving through town.

The committee recommended installing a “caution” sign with flashing lights at Burpee Road and Buena Vista Street. The goal is to slow traffic traveling down Burpee en route to Essex to prevent accidents involving drivers pulling onto Burpee from Buena Vista.

The sign proposal is a classic example of a very specific local concern with life-or-death implications. Drivers on Burpee enroute to Essex Street might consider the sign an inconvenience but the precaution taken to slow down drivers might save lives.

The committee’s “no parking” restriction proposed for Nason Road represents the sensible approach to addressing concerns about parents dropping off and picking up their children before and after school.

The approach proposed last year to addressing this problem with “safety zones” received the rejection it deserved at Town Meeting. Generalized proposals for improving traffic safety by definition don’t work. The committee wisely formulated a specific solution for making the crossroad at Nason and Orchard roads safer.

The traffic changes are proof that people who volunteer and run for elected office in town are making the safety of town residents their top priority.

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