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Betsy’s Corner: Thinking About Traffic – Part II

What is the town doing to improve the traffic flow in our small town?

There is someone on the police force thinking about Longmeadow traffic all the time. His name is Sgt. Carl Mazzaferro, and he wants to know what you think.

If you see something that is problematic or if you think a traffic or parking situation could be improved to make it safer, please call him. His direct line is 413-567-3311 ex 142. For the last two years he has been in charge of the traffic issues in our community.

This week, I had the opportunity to meet with the Safety Officer and our Town Manager to discuss the comprehensive goals for Longmeadow traffic safety.

Every month, our leaders have a traffic safety meeting to discuss issues that come up. People call Town Hall or email the Town Manager or Police with questions and comments. There are always many issues to discuss. In fact, right before I arrived at Town Hall, there was a car accident outside the Community House near The First Church. Traffic flow isn’t always flowing. It seems like several cars collide on a weekly basis.

On Wednesday, Oct. 4 it was the official “Walk to School Day.” Children and families all over town walked to school on a beautiful autumn morning. At Blueberry Hill School, a total of 80 percent participated. Schools across the country do this event annually, but this is the first time all three Longmeadow Elementary schools joined together in the spirit of safety and exercise.

The world is changing at a rapid pace. Longmeadow is not the same town we moved to over 20 years ago. Many drivers from other towns cut through our streets on the way to Interstate 91. Streets that look nice and quiet on the weekends become full of traffic during commuting hours. Although Converse Street has been upgraded and improved, there are many other streets that have traffic issues that are unresolved.

The north end of town is a bottleneck most mornings prior to 9 a.m. Crosswalks may need to be added in certain areas and additional signs could be posted in high traffic areas. On the east side of town, where the new medical office buildings are planned, Dwight Road will have three traffic lights heading south towards Benton Drive. Each intersection will be widened and the lights will be synchronized to help the cars flow with fewer stops.

Our quiet small town has turned into a busy suburb. It may not look like a suburb of Boston or New York, but we need to prepare for improved roads to handle more traffic. I don’t welcome this sort of change, yet change is inevitable. Every speed limit in town will be examined and evaluated with the town leaders taking a comprehensive “total look” at how drivers traverse our streets.

The Complete Streets Program will examine where sidewalks are located and where intersections are dangerous. If you think there is a place in your neighborhood that needs attention, speak to the Safety Officer about your comments and suggestions. If zoning changes happen around the town green or near the business district known as “The Shops,” traffic will change. I wish the shopping area would become more pedestrian friendly. The flow of traffic is often confusing for new residents.

A city planner would not design that area the way it was created back in the early 1960s. As a new resident, I could not navigate a stroller from Kiddly Winks to Friendly’s without putting my child in danger. Joggers, small children, seniors with canes and walkers all need to get around safely and smoothly in an environment with drivers who seems to always be in a rush.

In the days and months ahead, try to be more careful and mindful. I can hear my dad’s voice when he told us his advice… ”Just be careful!” he’d say as we drove or walked to school. I grew up in a small town like this but there was a more extensive public transportation available which kept the number of cars down. Distractions are numerous, so concentrate on safety as you navigate around this changing landscape.

– By Betsy Huber Port. This is an opinion piece, and the views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Longmeadow News or its staff. Opposing viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged. Email pressreleases@thelongmeadownews.com for more information.