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Views of Lexington residents in favor
of the Streetscape Project


Apples to oranges
The Lexington Minuteman

Jeanne Krieger, December 8, 2016

The infrastructure of Massachusetts Avenue is failing and must be rebuilt. The open, public process for developing the Center Streetscape Project is ongoing and has been for five years. Let’s move this project along so we can beautify our downtown, boost our local businesses, and save lives

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As someone who has followed the development of the Center Streetscape Project over the last five years, I find last week’s Guest Commentary by Elizabeth Brach troubling. Her piece contains misleading apples-to-oranges comparisons of crash data, disparaging innuendo about our dedicated Town staff and elected officials, and promoting 100% brick sidewalks for installation in Lexington Center without regard to their exorbitant cost or their impact on people with disabilities.

For purposes of my allotted 300 words, however, I will limit myself to addressing her claim that the Center Streetscape Project has been created in a “vacuum.”

In fact, plans for the project were kicked off in 2011 with four big public workshops where hundreds of residents offered their input and commented on suggested proposals. There were more public meetings, also attended by hundreds of residents, in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. I attended several of these meetings. They were lively and informative. Town staff and the Board of Selectmen listened respectfully and attentively.

Between June 2, 2011 and April 28, 2016, this newspaper published 58 reports, editorials, guest commentaries, and notices about the Center Streetscape Project. Eleven of those were front page news. There were dozens of letters to the editor. This is further evidence of intense civic engagement.

With nearly 1,000 crashes since 2002 - almost 200 of which resulted in injuries and at least two were fatalities - Lexington Center has had more crashes than most town centers in Massachusetts. The infrastructure of Massachusetts Avenue is failing and must be rebuilt. The open, public process for developing the Center Streetscape Project is ongoing and has been for five years. Let’s move this project along so we can beautify our downtown, boost our local businesses, and save lives.

Jeanne Krieger

Webster Road

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on December 8, 2016

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A larger idea has been forgotten
The Lexington Minuteman

Hank Manz, July 7, 2016

There is simply too much going on and too much that all users have to pay attention to. I hope that the various factions can settle their differences soon so that the Center Streetscape plan can move forward and whether I am walking, biking, or driving I, and those with whom I am sharing the road, will be safer.

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An important idea seems to have been lost because of the often heated discussion about whether brick sidewalks are historic and just how many of the trees in Lexington Center should be replaced and that is the proposed streetscape improvements have a broad safety component for all those who use the streets.

A few days ago while I was driving through the Center on Mass. Ave. in the direction of Arlington, a pedestrian entered the crosswalk near the Venue theater. The car ahead of me stopped as did I. We were both in the lane nearest the sidewalk. Even though we were stopped at a crosswalk, that did not deter the white Nissan SUV which cut around us on the left and kept going. Once through the crosswalk, the driver made an illegal U-turn to score a parking space across the street from the Venue.

Thanks partly to an alert person crossing and partly to a little beeping and frantic gestures, the pedestrian was not hit. Of course the SUV driver was clearly most to blame, but it is true that too many of our crosswalks are not as safe as they could be. Moreover, little is done to encourage automobiles to drive a bit more slowly.

There is simply too much going on and too much that all users have to pay attention to. I hope that the various factions can settle their differences soon so that the Center Streetscape plan can move forward and whether I am walking, biking, or driving I, and those with whom I am sharing the road, will be safer.

Hank Manz

Ellison Road

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on July 7, 2016

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Multiple stories have run on Streetscape
The Lexington Minuteman

John J. Krawczyk, June 2, 2016

From June 2, 2011, through April 28, 2016, the Lexington Minuteman has published at least 58 articles (news coverage, editorials, and guest commentaries) and notices (placed by the Town) about the Center Streetscape Project. Eleven of these were front page news.

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In a May 26 letter, a Hancock Street resident stated that he learned, “almost accidentally,” about the Center Streetscape Project through “non Lexington-based” sources, criticizing the Town for not “effectively” communicating with residents about the project. I wonder if the letter writer reads the paper to which he wrote. I did a little research and discovered that, from June 2, 2011, through April 28, 2016, the Lexington Minuteman has published at least 58 articles (news coverage, editorials, and guest commentaries) and notices (placed by the Town) about the Center Streetscape Project. Eleven of these were front page news.

Fourteen articles were published in 2011, two in 2012, one in 2013, six in 2014, 18 in 2015, and 17 in 2016 to date. Dozens of letters to the editor have been published on the subject as well. Combined, I estimate there were 100 or more articles, letters, and notices mentioning the Center Streetscape Project in the Lexington Minuteman over the past five years.

If you don’t receive the newspaper, the same content is available on the paper’s “Wicked Local” web site. The topic has been discussed on several local email lists, on Facebook, and via Twitter. Two websites were created roughly a year ago to promote differing views on how the project should proceed, and the groups behind those websites have done a lot of grassroots outreach to make people aware of what is going on. Town officials have been very open and communicative throughout the entire process, in addition to hosting numerous public meetings regarding the project since 2011.

However, there is only so much they can do if we don't meet the Town halfway. It is our responsibility to check sources from time-to-time to stay connected and informed about our community.

John J. Krawczyk

Outlook Drive

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on June 2, 2016

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Response to letter on streetscape project
The Lexington Minuteman

Norm Cohen, on behalf of the unanimous Board of Selectmen, April 21, 2016

A letter to the Minuteman on April 7, by Lee Connor, claims that all public discussion on the Center Streetscape Project was closed in November and that certain parties have been excluded from project discussions. This is incorrect. The Board recognizes there are many valid and differing opinions about the eventual outcome of this important project for the Center, but we should all agree on accurately representing facts.

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A letter to the Minuteman on April 7, by Lee Connor, claims that all public discussion on the Center Streetscape Project was closed in November and that certain parties have been excluded from project discussions. This is incorrect. The Board recognizes there are many valid and differing opinions about the eventual outcome of this important project for the Center, but we should all agree on accurately representing facts.

The Board has actively encouraged public participation in this project since it began in 2011, most recently with four meetings from November 2015 through the end of January 2016 at which public input and participation was welcomed. These occurred on Nov. 30, Dec. 21, Jan. 4, and Jan. 12.

In addition, all regularly scheduled meetings of the Board of Selectmen include a public comment period for items not on the agenda and residents have taken the opportunity to address the Board on this topic.

At the broadly attended public meeting of Jan. 12 held in the Cary Memorial Building, the public was invited to focus on the design elements of the Streetscape project to be brought to Town Meeting in future years. The purpose of this meeting, clearly stated at the opening, was to elicit public reaction that will inform the completion of the design. The designs shown were not complete and should not be thought of as cast in stone.

The Board has created a Center Streetscape Design Review ad hoc Committee to evaluate and make a recommendation on various design elements (excluding engineering items related to traffic) for the Center Streetscape Project.

We look forward to continuing this open process and for all residents to feel engaged and free to express their perspectives on a revitalized Lexington Center.

Norm Cohen

on behalf of the unanimous Board of Selectmen

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on April 21, 2016

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Reader: Thanks for affirming the decision
The Lexington Minuteman

Harry Forsdick, April 21, 2016

I’d like to thank Town Meeting members for affirming on April 11 the decision reached in January by the Board of Selectmen to move the East Mass Ave Roadway Improvements Project forward.

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I’d like to thank Town Meeting members for affirming on April 11 the decision reached in January by the Board of Selectmen to move the East Mass Ave Roadway Improvements Project forward. Although many wished that a solution employing roundabouts would work at these intersections, I believe there are many valid objections to the roundabout solution including lack of safety for pedestrians and cyclists, need for significant eminent domain acquisitions, and questionable claims of historical preservation.

We all expect town designers and engineers to pay attention to the technical and aesthetic concerns raised during the long design process for the approved solutions. These include use of smart traffic lights that can change their behavior in response dynamic flows of traffic, attractive supports for lights and pedestrian crossing buttons, and minimal excess signage.

The implementation of these improvements, especially to the Massachusetts Avenue and Pleasant Street intersection, will be a major improvement to the sense of safety as you enter Lexington.

Harry Forsdick

Burlington Street

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on April 21, 2016

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Lessons learned: ‘It is not over until it is over’
The Lexington Minuteman

George Gamota, April 21, 2016

The lesson here is, if Lexington citizens are behind a project, you need to follow it closely (look for workers at the site) or as in this case, a last minute side issue, like an obscure Article 10(g) can derail something that you are behind and you thought was a done deal. “Trust but Verify.”

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I have supported signalization on East Massachusetts Avenue for some time but especially since the last public forum where roundabout experts showed the safest approach to dealing with busy intersections: “Roundabouts with signalization” to provide safety for pedestrian traffic. In other words, the options are: 1) Do nothing; 2) install signalization; or 3) create roundabouts with traffic lights.

Of the three options, the Selectmen voted three to one on Jan. 25 to install signalization at Maple and Pleasant streets and Mass. Ave. After at least five public forums over four years, I thought that the decision was final and I was hoping to see construction happening any day.

Well not exactly. I was contacted on April 8 and told “It is not over”, and if I still supported the project I needed to come to the April 11 Town Meeting where it turns out there will be a last minute counterproposal which for all practical purposes would have killed the project unless by some magic the Town was willing to fund it totally by itself ($6 million) or get the state to put it on the front burner next year, both unlikely events.

Fortunately by an overwhelming vote, 140 in favor and 24 against with two abstentions, the Town Meeting members voted for funding the cost of easements to do the project and it seems it will be initiated.

The lesson here is, if Lexington citizens are behind a project, you need to follow it closely (look for workers at the site) or as in this case, a last minute side issue, like an obscure Article 10(g) can derail something that you are behind and you thought was a done deal. “Trust but Verify.”

George Gamota

Solomon Pierce Road

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on April 21, 2016

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Project to improve, not destroy, center
The Lexington Minuteman

Vicki Blier, Irene Dondley, JJ Krawczyk, Jeri Zeder, March 31, 2016

No final design has been selected at this point, much less one that “demolishes and destroys”. This is not a crisis. It’s a process, and it needs your support.

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Last week, at the recommendation of town staff, the selectmen unanimously decided to postpone the Town Meeting vote on the Woburn Street intersection portion of the Center Streetscape Project. Why? Because an independent engineering firm hired to study the issue of cut-through traffic in neighborhoods surrounding the intersection found a problem.

The temporary postponement will allow the town to develop traffic mitigation plans with input from neighborhood residents. We support the postponement.

This is not the end of the Center Streetscape Project. Lexington Center’s infrastructure is at the end of its useful life and must be rebuilt. The project will ensure that it will be rebuilt in a way that brings needed safety and accessibility improvements to our downtown. Yet, despite the obvious need for this project, it continues to come under unfair and misleading opposition.

Alarmist claims are circulating that the project will “demolish” and “destroy” Lexington Center’s brick sidewalks and other features and introduce “Disney-like decorative elements” into our historic Center, that design features were developed without the input of professional landscape architects, that citizens have been excluded from the process, and that the Town has “no regard to the quality of the current design.”

None of this is true.

The truth is that, since 2011, the town has been conducting open, transparent, community-wide discussions about a vision for Lexington Center. Professional landscape architects have been involved all along, offering ideas and seeking feedback in numerous public meetings. An ad hoc committee with members nominated by the Design Advisory Committee, the Historic Districts Commission, the Center Committee, and other stakeholder committees is being formed. No final design has been selected at this point, much less one that “demolishes and destroys”. This is not a crisis. It’s a process, and it needs your support.

Learn more at lexstreetscape.info

Vicki Blier, Irene Dondley, JJ Krawczyk and Jeri Zeder

Friends of the Center Streetscape Project

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on March 31, 2016

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Reader with TBI excited for new plan
The Lexington Minuteman

Sylvia Fohlin, March 17, 2016

I have lived with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) for seven years, since I was struck by a large SUV speeding down Mass. Ave. I was in a crosswalk that was not well marked and had no traffic light. The road at that point is wide, resulting in a longer crossing time.

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March is Brain Injury Awareness month. I think it’s important to keep this in mind as we consider investing in the Center Streetscape project. We need to make the Center safer for pedestrians and reduce the number of accidents and resultant injuries that occur. My family and I are only too aware of how hazardous the road conditions are.

I have lived with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) for seven years, since I was struck by a large SUV speeding down Mass. Ave. I was in a crosswalk that was not well marked and had no traffic light. The road at that point is wide, resulting in a longer crossing time.

I am excited at the prospect of having improved, shorter crosswalks, new sidewalks, and better lighting. Having grown up in a small town with only two traffic lights, I understand the appeal of keeping things looking “small”. But everyone knows how difficult and dangerous it is to navigate the area covered by the Center Streetscape plan. It's time to be realistic and modernize. Let’s unite around a commitment to do the right thing for all.

Sylvia Fohlin

Cherry Street

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on March 17, 2016

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The worst ‘dodge-’em’ situation
The Lexington Minuteman

Wright Salisbury, March 17, 2016

“The pedestrian always has the right of way” was the first thing my father told me when he taught me how to drive, but in Lexington it seems to me that the rules have changed to “Your first step may be your last.” Cars go through crosswalks without checking to see if anyone has stepped off the curb, with the result that I see many pedestrians tentatively putting out a foot as though Massachusetts Avenue were a river of scalding water, and I do the same myself.

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My wife and I moved to Lexington in 2002, after living in New York state for several decades. I loved the Village Green and the quiet suburban character of the town, but was surprised to find that the town center was like Times Square on steroids.

It is the worst “dodge-’em” situation I have ever encountered, whether I am driving and trying not to collide with another vehicle or simply trying to cross the street.

“The pedestrian always has the right of way” was the first thing my father told me when he taught me how to drive, but in Lexington it seems to me that the rules have changed to “Your first step may be your last.” Cars go through crosswalks without checking to see if anyone has stepped off the curb, with the result that I see many pedestrians tentatively putting out a foot as though Massachusetts Avenue were a river of scalding water, and I do the same myself.

I am glad to see that the Center Street will extend from the Farmers Market to Battle Green. It is a project that is long overdue and I urge the Town Meeting to support it.

Wright Salisbury

North Street

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on March 17, 2016

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Project will help all citizens
The Lexington Minuteman

Laurel Carpenter, March 10, 2016

I am a motorist, pedestrian, bicyclist, and transit user. As I consider going to Lexington Center for errands or to conduct business, I make a choice about which method of transportation to use. If I choose transit, walking or biking, I take up less room on the street and don’t contribute to congestion, parking demand, or air pollution. Active transportation supports both personal and public health goals of promoting healthy exercise. Our streetscape should not only accommodate people who walk and bicycle but invite them to do so.

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I’m writing to express my support of the first phase of the Lexington Center Streetscape project, including the installation of a traffic signal at Woburn Street. Lexington Center needs streets which are both wonderful public spaces and part of a sustainable transportation network. Each step Lexington takes toward improving its walkability and bikability makes it a more desirable place to live, work and shop.

I am a motorist, pedestrian, bicyclist, and transit user. As I consider going to Lexington Center for errands or to conduct business, I make a choice about which method of transportation to use. If I choose transit, walking or biking, I take up less room on the street and don’t contribute to congestion, parking demand, or air pollution. Active transportation supports both personal and public health goals of promoting healthy exercise. Our streetscape should not only accommodate people who walk and bicycle but invite them to do so.

Recent improvements along my regular commute have made a tremendous difference in encouraging me to choose active transportation. The new signal at Concord Avenue and Spring Street offers protection to me as a vulnerable left-turning bicyclist. The signal regulates smooth traffic flow and allows all modes of transport to move safely through the intersection.

Lexington’s streets and sidewalks should accommodate all users, including children, parents with toddlers and strollers, seniors, and people with disabilities.

I urge my fellow citizens to support this much-needed project.

Laurel Carpenter

Pleasant Street

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on March 10, 2016

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Support of the Center Streetscape project
The Lexington Minuteman

Christopher Mines, March 10, 2016

Well-planned investments in the Center infrastructure keep our town attractive and vibrant. And they help businesses whether its the Venue movie theatre, Lexx, or Peet’s Coffee, just to mention three places where our family are regulars.

I urge Town Meeting members to approve and begin work as soon as practical on the Project’s recommendations.

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I am writing in support of the Lexington Center Streetscape Project. It is a common-sense approach to making the center of our town more vibrant, safe, and welcoming to residents and visitors.

The Project recommends measures such as additional traffic lights, expanded sidewalks, better crosswalks, and other techniques for calming traffic and improving access and safety for pedestrians. Too often, I have witnessed close calls as people try to cross Massachusetts Avenue at the Woburn and Waltham Street intersections. My kids are now teenagers, but they still have bruises from my tight holds on their arms as we navigated the various Massachusetts Avenue crossings.

Well-planned investments in the Center infrastructure keep our town attractive and vibrant. And they help businesses whether its the Venue movie theatre, Lexx, or Peet’s Coffee, just to mention three places where our family are regulars.

I urge Town Meeting members to approve and begin work as soon as practical on the Project’s recommendations.

Christopher Mines

York Street

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on March 10, 2016

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Streetscape Plan is pedestrian friendly
The Lexington Minuteman

Chris Neurath, March 10, 2016

The center streets and sidewalks will need work one way or another, and the dollar cost of that work will just increase with delay. The Center Streetscape Plan has been carefully considered and debated for years. Putting off the project for a later time will not save money and will delay improvements that can increase the quality of life in Lexington.

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The Lexington Center Streetscape Plan’s goal is to improve safety for pedestrians, which is sorely needed. It will also make the center more pedestrian friendly, which will help businesses, tourism, and residents. Adding traffic lights at Woburn and Massachusetts Avenue is the best way to make that intersection safer. The tradeoff is just an extra 60 seconds or so for drivers to pass through Lexington Center. I don't believe back street cut-through traffic will increase significantly. It won't save any time for most drivers, so they won't bother.

The change from all brick sidewalk to brick bordering a concrete walkway will make the center more accessible to disabled people. For those who discount the importance of making the center more handicapped accessible, consider that you or your loved ones may one day join this minority.

The center streets and sidewalks will need work one way or another, and the dollar cost of that work will just increase with delay. The Center Streetscape Plan has been carefully considered and debated for years. Putting off the project for a later time will not save money and will delay improvements that can increase the quality of life in Lexington.

Chris Neurath

Byron Avenue

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on March 10, 2016

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Center is no place for new drivers
The Lexington Minuteman

Bob Ruxin, March 10, 2016

I support the Center Streetscape Project, including the recommended Woburn Street/Massachusetts Avenue intersection reconfiguration with smart traffic signals.

If you’ve ever tried to teach a new driver to navigate the Center going east, it would be hard to come to any other conclusion.

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I support the Center Streetscape Project, including the recommended Woburn Street/Massachusetts Avenue intersection reconfiguration with smart traffic signals.

If you’ve ever tried to teach a new driver to navigate the Center going east, it would be hard to come to any other conclusion. I’ve done it with three children:

--Stay in the right lane here, but watch out for parked cars darting out, cyclists weaving between you and the cars, and pedestrians in...or not in the crosswalk.

--Uh oh--don’t go into the far right lane--that’s right turn only.

--Now it’s not really 2 lanes but everyone drives like it is...I know it’s not marked...

--Now it is one lane--watch out for cars cutting you off from the left...or right or trying to turn right or dart across the intersection to reach Woburn Street.

Mix in blinding sunshine certain times of the year or twilight or no light or rain and you can appreciate why I’m grateful that my daughter’s driver’s education instructor made this adventure mandatory for each driving lesson.

I’d like to thank the Board of Selectmen for conducting an incredibly thorough study and open process to determine how to proceed. I commend their decision to approve the Streetscape Project and send it to Town Meeting for funding. Please join me in urging our Town Meeting members to vote yes on the full Streetscape Project.

Bob Ruxin

Nickerson Rd

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on March 10, 2016

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Support the Center Streetscape project
The Lexington Minuteman

Ana Hebra Flaster, March 3, 2016

I urge residents and Town Meeting members to support the well-researched Center Streetscape Project. Beyond the accessibility and safety improvements for pedestrians and cyclists in the center, which will benefit downtown businesses and increase the vitality of that area, the project addresses one of our family’s biggest challenges as pedestrians, cyclists and motorists in Lexington: traversing Woburn Street and Massachusetts Avenue.

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I urge residents and Town Meeting members to support the well-researched Center Streetscape Project. Beyond the accessibility and safety improvements for pedestrians and cyclists in the center, which will benefit downtown businesses and increase the vitality of that area, the project addresses one of our family’s biggest challenges as pedestrians, cyclists and motorists in Lexington: traversing Woburn Street and Massachusetts Avenue.

We’ve managed to survive 20 years of crossing that intersection - which we choose often over the other closest option, Grant Street and Massachusetts Avenue, another neck-wrenching, prayerful endeavor. But we have heard of and seen too many near mishaps and actual accidents, including a neighbor’s daughter’s collision there not long ago.

Statistics prove our personal experiences are not anomalies: 80 accidents from 2002-2013, 10 in 2014 and four in the first five months of 2015. This four-way intersection (Winthrop and Fletcher also meet here) ranks No.1 in motorists injuring pedestrians and cyclists.

The proposed smart traffic lights - projected to cost between $150,000 and $200,000, not the millions rumored - stop traffic only when triggered by motorist or pedestrian needs. Otherwise, the lights will stay green for traffic on Mass Ave.

Our town engineers have found that we cannot achieve our stated goals of improving access and safety for all residents and visitors, without smart, modern signaling at this crucial intersection. Project designers have demonstrated a respect for Lexington’s historic aesthetics and melded that with data-driven proposals for safety and accessibility improvements.

This extensively studied project shows a smart traffic light at this location may save our lives, avoid injury, and should get us to Alewife faster. Add in the safety and accessibility improvements at other accident-prone sites in the center, and logic indicates it merits funding. Please contact your representative to encourage him or her to support the Center Streetscape project.

Ana Hebra Flaster

Fairfield Drive

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on March 3, 2016

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Project is full of good things
The Lexington Minuteman

Rita Goldberg, February 25, 2016

The Lexington Center improvements, including Woburn Street and redesigned crossings and sidewalks, are a sign of the maturity of a culture that recognizes the equality of all, including children, older people and those with disabilities. As a grandmother of small children, I have a serious interest in all those categories. I support this project because it shows that we care about the safety, freedom and enjoyment of every person. It is a historic step forward for our historic town.

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The Lexington Center Streetscape Project is full of good things. It will make Lexington Center much safer; it will improve conditions for all users at the dangerous Woburn Street intersection; it will help local businesses by calming traffic and creating space for lingering; and it will increase the beauty of our town, by design and by effect.

No town is beautiful when pedestrians and cyclists are hurt or even killed. I’m delighted that many trouble spots in the Center will be reconfigured, including the Woburn Street intersection, the #1 site for pedestrian/ cyclist accidents in town. My husband and I were nearly hit in a pedestrian crossing there recently when a car flew through and stopped within inches of us. Lights would have allowed us to cross safely and would allow cyclists to negotiate the intersection in safety as well.

These will not be the signals of old. They will be programmable, movement-detecting smart lights that will maximize the flow of traffic. They’ll cost between $150,000 and $200,000, a bargain for what they’ll achieve. The redesigned intersection will improve sight lines, minimizing the scariness of driving there at rush hour and when the Farmers’ Market is in operation.

The Lexington Center improvements, including Woburn Street and redesigned crossings and sidewalks, are a sign of the maturity of a culture that recognizes the equality of all, including children, older people and those with disabilities. As a grandmother of small children, I have a serious interest in all those categories. I support this project because it shows that we care about the safety, freedom and enjoyment of every person. It is a historic step forward for our historic town.

Rita Goldberg

Independence Avenue

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on February 25, 2016

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Lights can improve traffic flow
The Lexington Minuteman

Ann Boese, February 25, 2016

I can speak from experience to the benefit of programmable signals for traffic management and pedestrian safety. I initially objected to having a traffic light installed at the intersection of Spring Street and Marrett Road, envisioning snarled traffic idling in front of my driveway waiting for the light to change. I was wrong. In fact, the traffic signals in South Lexington have smoothed out the flow of automobiles and - most important to the daily life of my family and neighbors - made our neighborhood far safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. There’s much less angst when my son and his friends walk to school or my husband bikes to work.

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I am writing in support of the Lexington Center Streetscape Project, especially the traffic signals at the Woburn Street/ Massachusetts Avenue intersection.

Living in South Lexington, I can speak from experience to the benefit of programmable signals for traffic management and pedestrian safety. I initially objected to having a traffic light installed at the intersection of Spring Street and Marrett Road, envisioning snarled traffic idling in front of my driveway waiting for the light to change. I was wrong. In fact, the traffic signals in South Lexington have smoothed out the flow of automobiles and - most important to the daily life of my family and neighbors - made our neighborhood far safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. There’s much less angst when my son and his friends walk to school or my husband bikes to work.

Woburn/Mass. Ave. is a much more complex intersection than any in my neighborhood. And the high traffic volume in Lexington, especially through our center, is a fact of life. We need to create the infrastructure to handle it effectively - and keep our town safe and welcoming for all, pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists alike.

Ann Boese

Spring Street

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on February 25, 2016

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Traffic must be managed in center
The Lexington Minuteman

Karen Longeteig, February 18, 2016

I support the Center Streetscape project including the traffic signal light at Woburn and Massachusetts Avenue. It is the most dangerous intersection in Lexington, with over 80 crashes there between 2002 and 2013. I call it the ‘grip and pray’ intersection because that’s what I find myself doing.

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I support the Center Streetscape project including the traffic signal light at Woburn and Massachusetts Avenue. It is the most dangerous intersection in Lexington, with over 80 crashes there between 2002 and 2013. I call it the ‘grip and pray’ intersection because that’s what I find myself doing. The summer farmers market makes it even more chaotic.

It appears that the engineering studies have been carefully done, and for an estimated cost of $150,000 to $200,000 - which will save lives and keep bodies intact - it is very doable.

The present volume of traffic will not diminish from wishing it so, and it must be managed.

Karen Longeteig

Concord Avenue

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on February 18, 2016

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Being in the wheelchair changes perspective
The Lexington Minuteman

Jon Dreyer, February 18, 2016

There has been a lot of talk lately about how to keep older folks like me around who pay taxes but don’t have kids in the schools. One way is to keep the place accessible. I'm grateful that the Center Streetscape Project has focused on making the Center a welcoming place for folks of all ages. Let's get this done.

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Years ago I found myself in the possession of a friend’s wheelchair with a plan to meet him across the street for lunch. I decided to try to make the trip in the chair. All the little bumps, bricks, traffic and other obstacles I’d barely noticed before loomed very large and rattled my bones. Since that time I've taken greater notice of accessibility issues, and, still fortunate to walk on two feet, I imagine my bones rattling every time I see the otherwise attractive brickwork in our center, and I can't imagine crossing Woburn Street at Mass. Ave. in that chair.

There has been a lot of talk lately about how to keep older folks like me around who pay taxes but don’t have kids in the schools. One way is to keep the place accessible. I'm grateful that the Center Streetscape Project has focused on making the Center a welcoming place for folks of all ages. Let's get this done.

Jon Dreyer

Baker Avenue

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on February 18, 2016

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Deeper than sidewalks, traffic lights
The Lexington Minuteman

Lexington Minuteman Editorial, February 11, 2016

Lexington’s history and historic charms are deeper and more pronounced than a street with no traffic lights and sidewalks made of bricks. Lexington is historic because of the men and women who lived here and fought for change, for modernization and to shape the world for future generations.

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Lexington’s history and historic charms are deeper and more pronounced than a street with no traffic lights and sidewalks made of bricks. Lexington is historic because of the men and women who lived here and fought for change, for modernization and to shape the world for future generations.

During the last 303 years, Lexington has grown and changed from the small farming community it was when the town was incorporated. Now it is time to bring the center into the 21st century in order to bring the tourists, customers and residents of the 21st century into the heart of the community.

The community has decided to bring more residents to the center of town in order to help support the businesses found there. The community also wants to increase tourism to support the town, the Lexington Historical Society and local businesses. Therefore, the community now has to support the plans to accomplish this; we must make the town accessible and friendly to all people.

The Center Streetscape Project takes many steps towards accomplishing the goals set out by the town. The proposed traffic lights and redesign of the sidewalks within the Center Streetscape Project will not become the dominant visual features to the exclusion of history and charm.

The current lack of traffic lights as well as the brick sidewalks just make a busy community harder to navigate for those who are unfamiliar with the streets and who have disabilities.

By melding bricks and concrete walkways, pedestrians can make their way safely down the street window-shopping, instead of watching where they step. Those who travel in wheelchairs, with walkers or with strollers will not have to worry about feeling the vibrations of traversing over the bricks resonating through their body.

By designing intersections that rely on traffic engineering instead of people knowing from years of experience where to look, tourists will be able to consider which restaurants to patronize or simply take in the beauty of the town.

Neither part of the Center Streetscape plan will remove the important moments in history that occurred here.

Unless you develop an area like Plimoth Plantation or Old Sturbridge Village, the modern culture will stand side-by-side with the historic. This intermixing of architecture, of modern accessibility and historic places will show residents and visitors the life and history of Lexington.

No solution is perfect or foolproof. But none the less, we need a solution that welcomes 21st and, hopefully, 22nd century visitors to learn about the actions of their 18th-, 19th- and 20th-century ancestors.

This editorial originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on February 11, 2016

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Lexington intersections
The Lexington Minuteman

Keith Ohmart, February 11, 2016

As for the Woburn Street intersection, like all red-blooded American drivers I know that my skills are above average and will remain so until the day before I depart this Earth, but on the chance that I am wrong about this, I know I will benefit from improvements to this intersection even if I will miss the daily challenge to my motoring skills.

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I wish to applaud those members of the Board of Selectmen who voted to approve the signalization of the Pleasant and Maple Street intersections and not let the dead hand of history dictate 21st - century traffic safety issues.

Turning to the Center Streetscape project, I applaud moving the crosswalks to eliminate the dangers of right hand turning vehicles and the sidewalk compromise proposing walkways of concrete bordered by brick. It is a measure of societal awareness that takes into account the needs of its minorities, in this case those amongst us who are mobility impaired and would truly benefit from this improvement.

As for the Woburn Street intersection, like all red-blooded American drivers I know that my skills are above average and will remain so until the day before I depart this Earth, but on the chance that I am wrong about this, I know I will benefit from improvements to this intersection even if I will miss the daily challenge to my motoring skills.

Traffic exiting Massachusetts Avenue onto Woburn Street can not only do so at a higher rate of speed than a right angle turn would dictate, but can then accelerate past the intersection with Fletcher Street. I know this from personal experience with more than one close call. Traffic from Fletcher Street turning left on Massachusetts Avenue must cross two streets of traffic each with up to four lanes of vehicles in each direction in quick succession. Traffic exiting Winthrop Road to Woburn Street must cross up to four lanes of cars some traveling at higher rates of speed in each direction.

Reconfiguring this intersection to square up Woburn Street opposite Winthrop Road and introducing at a minimum pedestrian activated signals if not full traffic signalization are improvements that are long overdue.

Keith Ohmart

East Street

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on February 11, 2016

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Invest in safety, not minor aesthetics
The Lexington Minuteman

Robert S. Whitehouse, February 11, 2016

The existing traffic light systems at the junction of Bedford Street at Worthen Road and Waltham Street at Mass. Ave. with pedestrian crossing controls have proved to be excellent at controlling the speed of traffic. Having to slow down for traffic signals appears to increase the courtesy of motorists in allowing other motorists turning off the main highway into parking lots and also pedestrian movement in a safe manner. I think a similar design approach in the area of Woburn Street at Mass. Ave. would have a similar calming effect for through traffic.

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I have attended several meeting on the above topic and followed the communications in the Minuteman.

I am very concerned with regard to pedestrian safety in the town center and on a number of occasions have narrowly been missed from cars being driven at unacceptable speeds. These have occurred both close to the town library and also near to the junction of Woburn Street and Massachusetts Avenue. Clearly the motorists have little interest in the safety of other motorists, pedestrians or cyclists; this can only [be] accomplished by the introduction of traffic lights at the junction of Woburn Street and Mass. Ave. as a primary investment. The cost of installing such traffic changes , $150,000-$200,000, is insignificant if it saves one accident per month (current estimate) and certainly one potential fatality.

The existing traffic light systems at the junction of Bedford Street at Worthen Road and Waltham Street at Mass. Ave. with pedestrian crossing controls have proved to be excellent at controlling the speed of traffic. Having to slow down for traffic signals appears to increase the courtesy of motorists in allowing other motorists turning off the main highway into parking lots and also pedestrian movement in a safe manner. I think a similar design approach in the area of Woburn Street at Mass. Ave. would have a similar calming effect for through traffic. They now have time to look around and appreciate the attractiveness of our town center and encourage them to stop and enjoy our beautiful landscape, shops and restaurants, thus bringing additional revenue into the town center.

Let’s invest our money in safety rather than minor aesthetics to an already attractive town center with regard to foot traffic.

Robert S. Whitehouse

Reed Street

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on February 11, 2016

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Streetscape project will make us better
The Lexington Minuteman

Jeff Caravella, February 11, 2016

I fully support the proposed lights at Woburn/Massachusetts Avenue and the other improvements outlined by the Center Streetscape project to help in keeping the downtown a vibrant and relevant place for people to shop, eat and walk. This project is on the continuing pathway to making Lexington a “best-in-class” place to live.

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Just over two years ago, my family moved into Lexington where we live on Massachusetts Avenue. We moved here from Southeastern Massachusetts to enable an easier commute into Cambridge and no surprise, the tremendous school system. It was a refreshing change to live in a community that promotes and values walking, running and cycling and offers a true downtown to enjoy.

But there is an immediate need to address significant shortcomings that I believe the Center Streetscape would help to achieve. The sidewalks along Massachusetts Avenue are in terrible condition, with some spots virtually un-walkable. With two kids under the age of 7, it is often a daunting affair to try and cross from one side of Massachusetts Avenue to another. Drivers do not slow down despite seeing people waiting at the cross walks. They see you - and you know it. They decide and hope for the next person behind them to stop. Just this past week, I almost witnessed another serious accident as another driver accelerated trying to pass me on the left as I stopped in the cross walk at Edison Way for an elderly person crossing. It was just a number of feet from another serious accident and demonstrating the need we have to improve the cross walks downtown. Cycling along Massachusetts Avenue and in the town center specifically is virtually out of the question most of the time given the traffic and dangerous turns.

I fully support the proposed lights at Woburn/Massachusetts Avenue and the other improvements outlined by the Center Streetscape project to help in keeping the downtown a vibrant and relevant place for people to shop, eat and walk. This project is on the continuing pathway to making Lexington a “best-in-class” place to live.

Jeff Caravalla

Massachusetts Avenue

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on February 11, 2016

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Brick sidewalks a “Disaster” for disabled
Direct Submission

Michael Bliss, February 8, 2016

Regardless of ADA requirements, there is no question that brick is a disaster for the disabled. I speak with real experience as my wife is disabled. So this is not a close call. I find it hard to believe there is debate.

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Regardless of ADA requirements, there is no question that brick is a disaster for the disabled. I speak with real experience as my wife is disabled. So this is not a close call. I find it hard to believe there is debate. Can the town really be thinking of creating further barriers for the disabled to further a completely bogus “historical” vision?

Michael Bliss

Barberry Road

This letter was submitted to the Friends of the Center Streetscape Project on February 8, 2016

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Support the Center Streetscape Project
The Lexington Minuteman

David Horton, February 4, 2016

With the vast number of vehicles that travel to and from Lexington, traverse it daily or travel within it, and the proliferation of bicycles on our roads, driving in Lexington for me is often a white-knuckle experience, just as it is for people who wish to cross our main streets on foot. This project will make it much safer for drivers of vehicles, who certainly do not want to hit another vehicle, a bicyclist, or pedestrian crossing the street, and for people riding bicycles or on foot.

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I strongly support the Center Streetscape Project, including the recommended Woburn Street / Massachusetts Avenue intersection reconfiguration and signalization. I, therefore, have asked the Board of Selectmen to approve the Center Streetscape Project and to send it to Town Meeting for funding, where I will support it as a member of Town Meeting.

There are numerous reasons why the Streetscape Project is necessary, important, vital, and essential. My main reason for supporting it is my interest in the safety of all people who find themselves driving, bicycling, or walking along Massachusetts Avenue and its immediate side streets. With the vast number of vehicles that travel to and from Lexington, traverse it daily or travel within it, and the proliferation of bicycles on our roads, driving in Lexington for me is often a white-knuckle experience, just as it is for people who wish to cross our main streets on foot. This project will make it much safer for drivers of vehicles, who certainly do not want to hit another vehicle, a bicyclist, or pedestrian crossing the street, and for people riding bicycles or on foot.

As a driver, I must be super vigilant keeping an eye out for other vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians. The same is true when I am on foot. For example, I occasionally walk home to Paul Revere Road from East Lexington and, at times, it is a real experience getting there safely. Crossing Massachusetts Avenue at numerous points requires extreme vigilance on my part and maybe some luck, too. I suspect this is true for other pedestrians as well.

The time is now to act in a positive way and to support the Center Streetscape Project that will make our town a safer place for one and all.

David Horton

Paul Revere Road

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on February 4, 2016

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Brick sidewalks cause safety hazard
The Lexington Minuteman

Julie Miller, February 4, 2016

Thirteen years ago at the age of 57, I became handicapped.

Navigating on brick sidewalks is torture, especially when they are wet, icy or covered with snow.

The fear of falling, breaking bones or even worse never being able to walk again is frightening.

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I am a life-long resident of Lexington.

Thirteen years ago at the age of 57, I became handicapped.

Navigating on brick sidewalks is torture, especially when they are wet, icy or covered with snow.

The fear of falling, breaking bones or even worse never being able to walk again is frightening.

Yes, the bricks do look good, but they are a safety hazard.

The plan of using a combination of a cement walk with bricks on the side would make navigation easier for everyone.

Please let all people whether they are young or old, handicapped or not, enjoy a safe experience walking in Lexington Center.

Julie Miller

Lois Lane

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on February 4, 2016

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Traffic lights needed on Mass. Ave.
The Lexington Minuteman

Ingrid H. Klimoff, January 28, 2016

I believe that having smart traffic lights, as part of the Center Streetscape project, would make the roads much safer for pedestrians and for people on bicycles. Many drivers do not notice pedestrians or simply ignore people trying to cross a street on a crosswalk.

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One recent Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m., I was crossing Massachusetts Avenue from the Battle Green over to the South side of Massachusetts Avenue in order to return books to the library. Because I was very tired, I naively thought I was safe in the crosswalk. I was almost hit by a dark sedan that zipped close by me. The driver either did not see me, or did not want to stop. It was pretty horrible, having a close call with a 4,000 pound vehicle. The driver in the minivan that came directly after the dark sedan stopped, and the woman said, “I am so sorry.” She knew I was shaken and had paused to maybe comfort me. Silly me, thinking that a crosswalk made me safe.

Somehow, it feels like there is a general lack of civility on public roads. Cars and SUVs and trucks rule. I believe that having smart traffic lights, as part of the Center Streetscape project, would make the roads much safer for pedestrians and for people on bicycles. Many drivers do not notice pedestrians or simply ignore people trying to cross a street on a crosswalk.

I think that people in town care about public health and safety. Traffic lights make it safer for people on bikes, people with vision/hearing deficits, people pushing strollers or using devices to help them walk.

Traffic lights will not cost millions of dollars. They’ll cost $150,000 to $200,000.

Ingrid H. Klimoff

Reed Street

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on January 28, 2016

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Support the Center Streetscape
The Lexington Minuteman

Jane Current, January 28, 2016

Only a redesign with a traffic light can give walkers, people with disabilities, tourists strolling the center and bicyclists the reassurance that cars will stop. The statement that a traffic circle is “safer” because cars in any crash could be going slower is upsetting. It fails to mention that in an accident involving a car and a pedestrian or cyclist, the person not traveling in a car suffers more gravely.

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I strongly support the Center Streetscape project and the re-design of the Woburn Street - Massachusetts Avenue intersection to the highest safety standards.

I live on Woburn Street, about a mile from that intersection, which I must use every day. When I moved to Lexington in August 2003, my sixth-grade son was districted into Clarke Middle School. Concerned that a sixth-grader could not be expected to safely negotiate the Woburn Street - Mass. Ave. intersection with a bicycle, I asked the schools that he go to Diamond, to which I believed he was capable of biking. The route to Diamond also has complex traffic, as does bicycling any mile within Lexington before and after school. Yet simple observation convinced me that the hazards of the Woburn Street - Mass. Avenue crossing set it apart.

It happened that my son stayed at Clarke. In three years he never rode his bicycle to school.

More than twelve years later, accidents - especially involving pedestrians and bicyclists - continue at that intersection at an alarming rate.

Only a redesign with a traffic light can give walkers, people with disabilities, tourists strolling the center and bicyclists the reassurance that cars will stop. The statement that a traffic circle is “safer” because cars in any crash could be going slower is upsetting. It fails to mention that in an accident involving a car and a pedestrian or cyclist, the person not traveling in a car suffers more gravely.

Our community should respect the safety of all citizens. I urge Lexington to implement the carefully vetted design with programmable (“smart”) traffic signals.

Jane Current

Woburn Street

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on January 28, 2016

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Make the center accessible, safe for all
The Lexington Minuteman

Shaun Grady, January 28, 2016

Embracing inclusion of all through implementation of the Center Streetscapes project with traffic signals at the Woburn Street and Massachusetts Avenue intersection, Lexington will truly honor our heritage and realize greater prosperity.

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My family has lived in Lexington for twenty-four years. When our daughters were younger, they did not understand that since the Battle Green is the place where our revolution began Lexington is a special place which people want to visit.

Now, will Lexington demonstrate respect for the past while establishing a thoughtful bridge into the future of inclusion and prosperity, or turn its back on its leadership position to focus solely on our ‘glory days?’

In late 2007, my family was turned upside-down when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Since then, I have not been able to return to work due to balance, cognitive, and visual deficits. I now spend some portion of most days trying to navigate in Lexington Center and volunteer each week at the Douglas House on Oakland Street. Like me, many Lexington residents live with mobility and other deficits and face inclusion issues daily.

I support the proposed Center Streetscape project because it will make Lexington Center safe and welcoming to all residents and visitors. Like the civil rights movement of the 1960s, inclusion for persons with limitations is an idea whose time has come for our country and our community.

My experiences are that both the Woburn Street bike path and pedestrian crossings are extremely dangerous. I have seen others attempt to cross Massachusetts Avenue at Woburn Street only to be nearly hit by cars. Signalization at Woburn Street and Massachusetts Avenue would be the most cost effective method for improving the overall safety of the intersection when compared to the needed land takings and construction of a roundabout.

Embracing inclusion of all through implementation of the Center Streetscapes project with traffic signals at the Woburn Street and Massachusetts Avenue intersection, Lexington will truly honor our heritage and realize greater prosperity.

Shaun Grady

Longfellow Road

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on January 28, 2016

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Streetscape project will help
The Lexington Minuteman

Phil Jackson, January 21, 2016

The arguments which have resonated with me are the quiet voices of support - the folks from the group home for the disabled who want to be able to navigate the Center a little more safely and easily, to the person hospitalized after getting hit by a car crossing Massachusetts Avenue by the police station asking why we haven’t calmed traffic yet, to the Chairperson of our Commission on Disability who advocates for the prudent and needed changes with impressive equanimity. Change is difficult, but isn’t the true nature of Lexington realized when we decide that the greater good sometimes needs to be considered in the context of changing times?

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Lexington Center desperately needs help. Its infrastructure is crumbling and traffic moves way too fast. At a time when neighboring towns such as Belmont are successfully improving their central business districts and making traffic flow exponentially safer and better, Lexington needs to do the same.

Progress stalled on the Center Streetscape Project last year because of opposition to a proposed smart traffic signal at Woburn Street/Massachusetts Avenue. Much of the dissension generated was centered around personal negative perspectives of traffic signals and their use in a town noted for its history. But the arguments which have resonated with me are the quiet voices of support - the folks from the group home for the disabled who want to be able to navigate the Center a little more safely and easily, to the person hospitalized after getting hit by a car crossing Massachusetts Avenue by the police station asking why we haven’t calmed traffic yet, to the Chairperson of our Commission on Disability who advocates for the prudent and needed changes with impressive equanimity. Change is difficult, but isn’t the true nature of Lexington realized when we decide that the greater good sometimes needs to be considered in the context of changing times?

The Center Streetscape project - including the proposed traffic signal - has been many years in development and it has been designed and vetted by countless experts, town employees and citizens. It must serve many masters and there are certainly going to be aspects of the design which don’t entirely resonate with individuals. But the danger when we pick it apart is that the whole project collapses and we do not achieve the needed safety and aesthetic improvements. Let’s move Lexington forward - and help make the Center work for everyone - by supporting the Streetscape project in its entirety.

Phil Jackson

Shade Street

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on January 21, 2016

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Time to applaud Center project
The Lexington Minuteman

Jennifer Zacharis, January 21, 2016

I applaud the efforts of the Center Streetscape Improvement Project and I am writing in support of the plan to improve the streets and sidewalks of Lexington Center.

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I applaud the efforts of the Center Streetscape Improvement Project and I am writing in support of the plan to improve the streets and sidewalks of Lexington Center. In 2003, I witnessed a pedestrian being struck by a car while using the crosswalk in front of The Crafty Yankee. I will never forget this traumatic event and my sadness in the days following when I learned that the man had died. Many years have passed, but each time I go by this location I reflect on the incident. I believe that the primary factor in this fatality was the combination of a poorly lit crosswalk and four lanes of fast-moving traffic. It seems as though nearly every time I am downtown Lexington I witness one car stopped at a crosswalk and a car in the second lane traveling in the same direction does not stop.

I am encouraged by the changes being proposed as part of the Center Streetscape project, including crosswalk bump-outs and improved lighting, but I’m also disappointed that the plan doesn’t reduce the number of travel lanes. Having seen one needless death in these circumstances, it is clear to me that future tragedies could be avoided with only two lanes of travel.

Jennifer Zacharis

Rindge Avenue

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on January 21, 2016

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Safety, not sentimentality should dictate roads
The Lexington Minuteman

Elaine Ashton, January 21, 2016

The intersections at Maple and at Pleasant at Massachusetts Avenue are particularly dangerous and in need of the proposed safety improvements that we will surely regret not implementing should we not grasp the gift of funding the State is offering us.

East Lexington should not remain an unchecked speedway between Arlington Heights and Lexington Center on the bucolic notion that it would be less scenic.

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A neighbor of mine recently remarked that she wants nothing to change at the East Lexington intersections currently under consideration for significant improvements for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists because she grew up on Follen Hill and is “sentimental” about them. If we allowed public safety issues to be resolved by emotions and wistful sentimentality, our world would be a far less enjoyable and safe place to live.

“I sure miss the days before seat belts, air bags, and ABS brakes!”, said nobody ever.

We demand that our schools be safe for our children and that all new buildings be ADA accessible, so why are traffic signals and crosswalks receiving such resistance on the grounds that they would mar a scenic area of town when public safety and accessibility should take priority?

The intersections at Maple and at Pleasant at Massachusetts Avenue are particularly dangerous and in need of the proposed safety improvements that we will surely regret not implementing should we not grasp the gift of funding the State is offering us.

East Lexington should not remain an unchecked speedway between Arlington Heights and Lexington Center on the bucolic notion that it would be less scenic.

Elaine Ashton

Cliffe Avenue

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on January 21, 2016

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In support of the Center plan
The Lexington Minuteman

Nancy Adler, January 21, 2016

I especially want to underscore the importance of ensuring a secure walkway in front of our stores, not only for the disabled but also for our seniors. While brick is lovely to look at, it is unstable underfoot for our seniors who are more prone to fall.

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I am writing to express my support for the Center plan as presented by the consultants last Tuesday evening. I especially want to underscore the importance of ensuring a secure walkway in front of our stores, not only for the disabled but also for our seniors. While brick is lovely to look at, it is unstable underfoot for our seniors who are more prone to fall. The Council on Aging (COA) board has discussed this topic and has supported the efforts of the Disability Commission to make sure our walkways are safe for all our citizens. Brick does not provide the required safety.

Nancy Adler

Council On Aging (COA) chairman

Village Circle

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on January 21, 2016

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Yes to the Streetscape project
The Lexington Minuteman

Cheryl Meadow, January 21, 2016

I’m especially impressed with the landscape architect’s concepts for the “gateways” to the Center at Waltham Street and Woburn Street. Distinctive light stanchions, crosswalk designs, plantings, and more at these intersections are being developed not only for their attractiveness, but also for their functionality. They will visually signal to the more than 21,000 trucks and cars traveling through our Center each day that they are entering a busy commercial and civic district lively with people and that they need to slow down and watch carefully.

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The more I learn about the Lexington Center Streetscape Project, the more sense it makes. It will create a safer and more accessible Lexington Center for everyone who shops, dines, and meets there. And it will do so beautifully, as the designs are beginning to show.

I’m especially impressed with the landscape architect’s concepts for the “gateways” to the Center at Waltham Street and Woburn Street. Distinctive light stanchions, crosswalk designs, plantings, and more at these intersections are being developed not only for their attractiveness, but also for their functionality. They will visually signal to the more than 21,000 trucks and cars traveling through our Center each day that they are entering a busy commercial and civic district lively with people and that they need to slow down and watch carefully.

That’s not only smart design - it’s needed design.

I also love the idea floated by a Lexington resident at last week’s public forum to adorn the streetscape with the works of local artists. What a great way to celebrate our talented residents and further enhance our community!

I have no objections to smart traffic lights at a reconfigured Woburn Street intersection and I urge our town’s leaders to bring this wonderful project forward.

Cheryl Meadow

Lois Lane

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on January 21, 2016

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Streetscape project is full of improvements
The Lexington Minuteman

Karen Kishimoto, January 21, 2016

The Woburn Street crosswalk is invisible to a quickly moving car approaching from the westbound lane of Mass. Ave. and can be missed, especially when drivers unfamiliar with the area are turning while looking at street signs or their GPS. It is nearly impossible for a fit pedestrian to make it across as a fast-moving car approaches, not to mention someone who is slowed by disability. I have been fortunate in having only near misses crossing here -- others have not been so lucky. This intersection is badly in need of redesign.

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I’d like to add my voice to the support of the Streetscape Project for the increased safety for pedestrians and bicyclists that will be provided by implementation of the proposals, in particular for the redesign of the Woburn Street intersection with Mass Ave. I am an experienced and extremely cautious pedestrian (logging 20-30 miles per week walking around town for exercise) who has had many close calls with vehicles during the 15 years I’ve lived and walked in Lexington, most of them at crosswalks without lights. One of these crosswalks is at a particularly treacherous intersection, Woburn Street and Mass. Ave. The Woburn Street crosswalk is invisible to a quickly moving car approaching from the westbound lane of Mass. Ave. and can be missed, especially when drivers unfamiliar with the area are turning while looking at street signs or their GPS. It is nearly impossible for a fit pedestrian to make it across as a fast-moving car approaches, not to mention someone who is slowed by disability. I have been fortunate in having only near misses crossing here -- others have not been so lucky. This intersection is badly in need of redesign.

Traffic safety and flow are important, but when pedestrians and vehicles collide, it will be the pedestrian who is injured, or sometimes killed. In a densely populated area like Lexington center, surely pedestrian safety must be the highest priority. For pedestrians and motorized traffic to share a roadway, pedestrians need long sight lines and traffic must be unequivocally stopped, preferably by stoplights. For those who doubt that lights make such a difference, try crossing a few busy streets at a selection of crosswalks with and those without traffic signals, but be careful, and especially crossing Woburn Street at Mass Ave.

Karen Kishimoto

Coolidge Avenue

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on January 21, 2016

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Do alternatives to traffic lights work?
The Lexington Minuteman

George Gamota, January 14, 2016

While roundabouts are relatively new to the US, they have been around a long time in Great Britain. However, it seems rather than increasing in popularity, roundabouts in Great Britain are getting negative press and a number are being replaced by lights at intersections; all because of lack of pedestrian and bicycle safety.

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The discussion for erecting traffic lights on Massachusetts Avenue east of the center has moved from “doing nothing” to looking for alternatives to traffic lights. I consider this a step in the right direction since it seems the majority of Lexingtonians have concluded that we do have traffic problems on Massachusetts Avenue intersections and something needs to be done to increase safety and reduce hazards for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

Roundabouts have been offered as an alternative to traffic lights. No question, they do somewhat reduce traffic jams and make it easier for motorists to make left turns. What they don’t do is make it easier for pedestrians to cross four lanes of traffic, a problem we have on Maple- and Woburn-Mass. Ave. intersections. We can see this issue at Fresh Pond where crosswalks with traffic lights are not at the roundabouts but 100 yards from them. The problem can also be remedied by erecting pedestrian bridges or digging out tunnels in lieu of crosswalks. Neither would be welcome in historic Lexington.

While roundabouts are relatively new to the US, they have been around a long time in Great Britain. However, it seems rather than increasing in popularity, roundabouts in Great Britain are getting negative press and a number are being replaced by lights at intersections; all because of lack of pedestrian and bicycle safety. According to the British press, bicyclists are apt to be involved in accidents by a staggering amount, 10-15 times more often.

Here in Lexington, the number of pedestrians and bicycles will increase as Lexington tries to be a leader in reducing the use of automobiles; we need to make it safer for our residents.

George Gamota

Solomon Pierce Road

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on January 14, 2016

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Support the Center Streetscape Project
The Lexington Minuteman

Serena Crystal, January 14, 2016

I hope that we can support this Center Streetscape Project to make our town center safe for everyone to enjoy, residents and tourists, cyclists, drivers, pedestrians, and those in strollers, wheelchairs, or with canes, or tiny, toddler legs.

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I support the Center Streetscape Project because I had an auto accident there years ago, my son strapped in his carseat in the back. I was waiting for traffic to cease to cross Massachusetts Avenue from Woburn Street to Winthrop Road to go home. Traffic ended. The road cleared. I ventured across Massachusetts Avenue and entered Winthrop Road. Suddenly a truck that had sped along Massachusetts Avenue towards Arlington hit the rear of my car before I had completely left the intersection and pushed us further into Winthrop Road. Terrifying! Fortunately my son was fine. The truck driver was at fault. Since then, I never cross Massachusetts Avenue at that intersection. I avoid it, using Highland Avenue to Slocum Road where I feel safer making a left turn onto Massachusetts Avenue. Coming from Woburn Street, I only turn right onto Massachusetts Avenue. That is one of the worst intersections in town. I have also been nearly clipped as a pedestrian crossing in the middle of the clearly marked crosswalk at the Post Office when drivers sped by on the other side. Some years ago a woman was killed in that crosswalk.

Traffic signals save lives. They do not cost millions of dollars, but $150,000 to $200,000. I place infinite value on human lives, as we all should. My fantasy would have Lexington Center completely closed to traffic between Woburn Street and the Minuteman Statue as an open-air, European-style town center with more space for cafes, merchants and artisans. No doubt that’s not possible, though it would be very attractive. I hope that we can support this Center Streetscape Project to make our town center safe for everyone to enjoy, residents and tourists, cyclists, drivers, pedestrians, and those in strollers, wheelchairs, or with canes, or tiny, toddler legs.

Serenal Crystal

Grapevine Avenue

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on January 14, 2016

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Woburn Street intersections needs to be fixed
The Lexington Minuteman

Michael Sortor, January 14, 2016

My family and I spend a great deal of time in downtown Lexington. All of us have experienced the dangers of trying to cross the street up and down Massachusetts Avenue, both walking and on bikes. Now that I have two teenaged children who spend time in the Center on their own, I want our Town to provide as safe a pedestrian and biking environment as possible.

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I am writing in support of the Center Streetscape Project.

My family and I spend a great deal of time in downtown Lexington. All of us have experienced the dangers of trying to cross the street up and down Massachusetts Avenue, both walking and on bikes. Now that I have two teenaged children who spend time in the Center on their own, I want our Town to provide as safe a pedestrian and biking environment as possible.

I am in complete support of a signalized intersection at Woburn Street and Massachusetts Avenue. My understanding is that from 2002 to the first half of 2015, there were over 90 crashes there, and that it is the intersection where pedestrians and cyclists are hit by cars the most in Lexington. This clearly shows the need to make substantial improvements to the safety of this intersection.

I have also seen traffic backed up on Woburn Streetreet as far as one block away from Lowell St. A “smart” light at the Mass Ave/Woburn Street intersection will detect traffic and allow it to flow better when needed without causing undue delays to the traffic on Mass. Ave. A signalized crossing will also allow high school students from across Mass. Ave. to easily cross the street and take Winthrop Road to LHS, utilizing the new sidewalk recently built there.

I strongly urge the Town to move forward with the Center Streetscape Project including the Woburn Street/Massachusetts Avenue signalized intersection. I believe that this project with its many improvements will help to make Lexington Center a safer and more welcoming place for all of its users - residents and its many visitors; old and young; abled and disabled; pedestrians, bikers, and motorists.

Michael Sortor

Hamblen Street

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on January 14, 2016

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Roundabouts not a fits-all solution
The Lexington Minuteman

Linda Behar, December 3, 2015

Why do Lexington’s historical preservation groups oppose traffic lights in the historical districts? The roundabouts in the video are massive. Even if smaller, are they any more “historical” than traffic lights? Lexington is a living, evolving community, not a theme park based on a particular date in the past.

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Beverly Kelley’s letter argues that Massachusetts Avenue doesn’t need traffic lights. She quotes a U.S. Department of Transportation video which urges “...take a hard look at modern roundabouts as an alternative.” The video does not say to use roundabouts in all intersections, but only “where appropriate.” Roundabouts are not a one-size-fits-all solution - nor are traffic lights. Each situation must be considered carefully.

At the Pleasant Street / Mass Ave intersection, would a roundabout or a traffic light be better to handle the traffic from an event or service letting out at Follen Church or Sacred Heart Church? Which is safer for bicycles? For pedestrians trying to cross the street?

Why do Lexington’s historical preservation groups oppose traffic lights in the historical districts? The roundabouts in the video are massive. Even if smaller, are they any more “historical” than traffic lights? Lexington is a living, evolving community, not a theme park based on a particular date in the past.

Kelley argues that Pleasant St / Mass Ave is not “an avenue in crisis” because traffic only backs up for “two hours a day.” Neighbors know northbound traffic starts to back up by 3 p.m. and lasts beyond 7 p.m. At 5 p.m., traffic is stopped almost a quarter-mile. In the morning, the tie up is on Mass Ave. Watch this on Google Maps: from the menu, choose Traffic. On the pop-up, choose Typical Traffic, and for each day of the week, you can watch the traffic build up and abate during the day.

Actually, as a driver, I favor roundabouts. I hope there is a way to install one at Mass Ave / Pleasant St that, after careful consideration, will meet all safety and traffic concerns. But it should not be installed as a “cookie cutter” solution to our needs.

Linda Behar

Summit Road

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on December 3, 2015

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Transportation Safety Improvement Statement
Direct Submission

Greenways Corridor Committee, November 23, 2015

ALL users must have a pervasive sense of safety while navigating our streets. The inclusion of safe accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists in the design of Town transportation upgrades is therefore of critical importance to the overall mission of the Committee.

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The primary purpose of the Greenways Corridor Committee as specified in its charge is to introduce walking and biking corridors throughout the town. We are in the process of doing this through the ACROSS (Accessing Conservation, Recreation, Open space, Schools and Streets) Lexington project. Since all of our ACROSS Lexington routes include travel along Town streets and sidewalks, the success of our program depends on the public’s confidence that the routes are safe for walking and bicycling.

For the ACROSS Lexington project to succeed in encouraging the public to explore our community’s extraordinary open space and other resources, ALL users must have a pervasive sense of safety while navigating our streets. The inclusion of safe accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists in the design of Town transportation upgrades is therefore of critical importance to the overall mission of the Committee.

Town Meeting has previously approved the motion for Lexington to become a Complete Streets community. The central premise of this program is that every transportation project will make the street network better and safer for all users, be they drivers, transit users, pedestrians, bicyclists, or those with disabilities.

Accordingly, the Greenways Corridor Committee unanimously urges that the East Mass Ave Roadway & Sidewalk Improvement Project and the Center Streetscape Project both incorporate the safest solutions, in all aspects, for all non-automotive users that current transportation engineering offers.

Approved unanimously by the Greenways Corridor Committee at its meeting on November 23, 2015.

This letter was submitted to the Friends of the Center Streetscape Project on November 23, 2015

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Signalize Maple Street Intersection
The Lexington Minuteman

Beverly Seavey, November 19, 2015

With a signalized intersection everyone would get a fair chance, with a reasonable wait time. Please continue with plans for signalization.

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We live close to the intersection of Maple Street and Mass. Avenue. Some people have claimed that there is traffic backup here only during rush hour. That is not the case. Weekday afternoons noon around the times schools let out there is often a significant backup.

All summer there was significant traffic backup on Saturdays mid-morning to late afternoon. During all these times there is frequent honking, as if that would get people where they are going any faster.

A rotary can fill up like any vessel; imagine a rotary as clockface with traffic traveling counterclockwise. If most traffic enters at 12, and exits at 6, then people wanting to enter at 9 would be at a disadvantage having to wait a disproportinonate length of time. In the limit it would be impossible for them to to enter ever.

A major issue at this intersection is aggressive drivers versus rational, cautious drivers. Some honking comes from impatient people behind more cautious drivers. These impatient people would still be backed up behind rational drivers waiting to enter the rotary. Other honking comes from people who think they didn't get their rightful turn in the intersection. This would still arise with a rotary and there would continue to be honking.

With a signalized intersection everyone would get a fair chance, with a reasonable wait time. Please continue with plans for signalization.

Beverly Seavey

Massachusetts Avenue

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on November 19, 2015

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Intersections are that bad
The Lexington Minuteman

Jeri Zeder, October 29, 2015

Woburn St / Mass Ave is actually more dangerous for walkers and cyclists - that is, non-motorists - than any of the Minuteman’s 2011 top ten intersections.

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Last week’s letter by Michael Frank stated that the Woburn St / Mass Ave intersection “does not even graze” Lexington’s 2011 top ten most dangerous intersections as compiled by this newspaper, and called a traffic light there an “extraneous” solution to a “contrived” issue.

Not so fast.

Woburn St / Mass Ave is actually more dangerous for walkers and cyclists - that is, non-motorists - than any of the Minuteman’s 2011 top ten intersections.

Here’s a closer look.

The intersections in the Minuteman’s top ten were:

  • Bedford St / Harrington Rd
  • Bedford St / Hartwell Ave
  • Woburn St / Lowell St
  • Bedford St / Route 128 Exchange
  • Bedford St / Simonds Rd
  • Mass Ave / Maple St
  • Mass Ave / Muzzey St
  • Concord Ave / Waltham St
  • Bedford St / Eldred St
  • Bedford St / Hill St

Toss the Woburn St / Mass Ave intersection into this mix, and you find, based on 2002-2013 data from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Crash Portal, that it is:

  • #1 in crashes involving non-motorists.
  • #1 in crashes resulting in injuries to non-motorists.
  • #5 in total crashes.
  • #5 in total crashes resulting in injuries.

And: traffic lights matter - especially for walkers and cyclists. From 2002-2013:

  • The un-signalized Maple St / Mass Ave intersection had six crashes involving walkers and cyclists, five of which resulted in injuries. The signalized Maple St / Lowell St intersection had ZERO crashes involving walkers and cyclists.
  • 25% of the 80 crashes at un-signalized Woburn St / Mass Ave caused injuries. Eight (10%) involved injuries to walkers and cyclists. 8.9% of the 56 crashes at the signalized Waltham St / Mass Ave intersection caused injuries. Three (5.4%) involved injuries to walkers and cyclists.

Visit www.lexstreetscape.info for reliable information about Lexington’s roadway projects.

Jeri Zeder

Massachusetts Avenue

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on October 29, 2015

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Rotaries aren’t good for walkers, cyclists
The Lexington Minuteman

Keith Ohmart, October 29, 2015

If we truly want to restore the geographic unity of our community for all users, be they drivers, pedestrians or bicyclists, a solution must be found that provides more or less equal measures of safety for all. Otherwise we will remain a divided community along these major arteries favoring one mode of transportation over all others.

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I wish to address the argument that the installation of traffic lights along Massachusetts Avenue between Woburn Street and Pleasant Street will somehow carve up the town into disparate units.

From my perspective as both a pedestrian and frequent bicyclist, the flow of automobile traffic along Massachusetts Avenue through the intersections in question has already carved up the town in terms of being able to safely navigate this vitally important section of our community

If you doubt my observation, try being a pedestrian during rush hour anywhere along Mass. Ave. through this section of town and pretend you are trying to catch a bus on the opposite side of the street. Then imagine repeating this process twice a day, five days a week if you depend on the bus to commute to work.

Or try riding a bicycle through the Marrett Road intersection and attempting to turn left on Mass. Ave., as I did last Saturday upon leaving the opening ceremony of our lovely new Community Center.

Traffic signals are probably the single most effective safety measure for both pedestrians and bicyclists because they stop the flow of traffic. Roundabouts, while they may moderate the flow of automobile traffic and improve matters, do not do this. The burden is still up to the pedestrian or bicyclist to compete for equal time and attention by often distracted and harried drivers. Doing nothing at all to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety is unacceptable.

If we truly want to restore the geographic unity of our community for all users, be they drivers, pedestrians or bicyclists, a solution must be found that provides more or less equal measures of safety for all. Otherwise we will remain a divided community along these major arteries favoring one mode of transportation over all others.

Keith Ohmart

East Street

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on October 29, 2015

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Mass. Ave. traffic must be addressed
The Lexington Minuteman

Ellen Gabrielse, October 22, 2015

I’m not 100 percent clear on what the ideal solution is, but traffic at commute times on Massachusetts Avenue has been a nightmare as long as we’ve lived here, almost 30 years. It is long past time to take measures to improve traffic flow and safety.

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A hearty amen to Fred Johnson’s guest editorial in last week’s Minuteman. I’m not 100 percent clear on what the ideal solution is, but traffic at commute times on Massachusetts Avenue has been a nightmare as long as we’ve lived here, almost 30 years. It is long past time to take measures to improve traffic flow and safety.

Tourists will cope; they may even appreciate a smooth entry into and exit from town. I know commuters and pedestrians will breathe easier. Romantics in Lexington may adjust once they see that better, safer traffic does not destroy our historical importance.

Ellen Gabrielse

North Street

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on October 22, 2015

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Resident takes issue with Historical Society taking a position on traffic light debate
The Lexington Minuteman

Fred Johnson, October 15, 2015

I applaud the Historical Society’s stewardship of our historic taverns and Hancock Clark house. But there is no analog in its making its buildings more accessible in a way sensitive to their 18th century architecture and a position that compromises the safety of walkers and cyclists crossing a 20th century highway in the name of “stewardship”.

I hope the society’s board will reconsider its action, and I hope the selectmen will proceed to implement both the Center Streetscape and East Mass. Ave. Roadway Improvement projects as quickly as possible.

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I am writing with reference to the guest column, which appeared in the Oct. 1 issue of the Lexington Minuteman, putting the society on record publicly as calling into serious question the placement of new traffic signals on Massachusetts Avenue.

I so wish the society’s board had continued its “reluctance to take a position on a public matter”, particularly in this case where these are substantial numbers of our citizens who strongly disagree with the position the board voted to take. I am among them and I suspect many other members of the society feel as I do.

The signers of the published proposal are all valued friends whom I hold in great affection. All the more disheartened am I by their action.

I’m also totally unpersuaded by the arguments raised. Lexington’s Battle Road stewardship is in no way comparable to that of Minuteman National Park. The park service reconstructed the Battle Road as a gravel path, clearing land, removing structures and constructing stonewalls - all in an effort to recreate the environment of the 18th century.

The Historic Districts Commission has acted to preserve buildings along Mass. Ave., (many, by the way, built long after the British passed). But the reality is that, some time ago, our road was paved and made a four-to-six lane state highway which now carries 20,000 motor vehicles daily traveling at speeds up to 40 miles an hour, a road bordered by an endless string of unsightly utility poles, and which, by the way, already has five traffic lights in place.

Aware that a number of Mass. Ave. intersections were very dangerous - both to pedestrians and drivers, work began over two years ago to engineer solutions that would improve traffic flow and sight lines, and make crossing the avenue safer for those on foot or bicycle.

The result of installing smart signals at Pleasant, Maple, Marrett and Woburn will have a number of outcomes. Traffic on Mass. Ave., which now flows almost unimpeded will be “calmed” that is, cars will have to slow down. Drivers on the intersecting streets above making left turns will have their wait times dramatically reduced, with less need to seek alternative routes. “Smart” signals detect vehicles and alter the timing of lights accordingly. If there is no car waiting to turn, the light stays green on the main road.

Signalized and re-configured intersections will make crossing the avenue safer for pedestrians, especially important now at the crossings that access the new Community Center. But the high-risk challenge to those on foot at every one of these places is apparent to anyone who has ever tried to walk them.

I applaud the Historical Society’s stewardship of our historic taverns and Hancock Clark house. But there is no analog in its making its buildings more accessible in a way sensitive to their 18th century architecture and a position that compromises the safety of walkers and cyclists crossing a 20th century highway in the name of “stewardship”.

I hope the society’s board will reconsider its action, and I hope the selectmen will proceed to implement both the Center Streetscape and East Mass. Ave. Roadway Improvement projects as quickly as possible.

Fred Johnson is a longtime member and supporter of the Lexington Historical Society, a member of the Center Committee, and Town Meeting member from Precinct 6.

This Op-Ed originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on October 15, 2015

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Selectmen need to approve Mass. Ave. projects
The Lexington Minuteman

Kei Kishimoto, October 15, 2015

We need safer streets today, not after the next fatality.

We all value Lexington’s historical heritage, but traffic lights are no more incongruous to Lexington’s historical landscape than automobile traffic.

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The design of Massachusetts Avenue is a hot button topic for our community. I urge the selectman to have the courage to act now and not pass the problem to the future. The funding is available today.

More importantly, our children need safe routes to schools and bus stops today.

Our senior citizens and the physically handicapped deserve safe routes around town. Lexington has had more pedestrian fatalities between 2003-2012 than any neighboring town.

All of the deaths involved senior citizens, and most have occurred on wide, busy roads like Massachusetts Avenue.

We need safer streets today, not after the next fatality.

We all value Lexington’s historical heritage, but traffic lights are no more incongruous to Lexington’s historical landscape than automobile traffic.

Traffic lights provide the safest passage for pedestrians that need extra time to cross busy streets.

Better road engineering, such as narrowing wide roads by creating bike lanes and restricting parking to one side, would make it easier for pedestrians to cross. Reducing the speed limit would give drivers more time to react and avoid accidents.

The average risk of severe injury for a pedestrian struck by a vehicle doubles from 25 percent at 23 mph to 50 percent at 31 mph, while the average risk of death for a pedestran increases from 10 percent at an impact speed of 23 mph to 25 percent at 32 mph. Importantly, drivers are more likely to notice pedestrians in crosswalks and stop if they were driving slower.

If we want to highlight Lexington’s historic character and improve quality of life, then let’s start by encouraging people to slow down and to get out of their cars to enjoy the town.

Kei Kishimoto

Coolidge Avenue

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on October 15, 2015

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“Historic Preservation” no excuse for opposing safety improvements
Direct Submission

Sandra Shaw, October 14, 2015

We are not Colonial Williamsburg or Sturbridge Village, and our citizens are not acting in an historic tableaux.

The charge that these improvements will “urbanize” our Town is bizarre. We are not a quaint and small town anymore - and have not been for many, many years. We are a bustling, attractive and diverse Town with highly ranked schools, great public services, many businesses, tourists, and too many cars and trucks.

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I take issue with those who are using “historic preservation” as an argument to make no changes on our main thoroughfare in Lexington. I was surprised and somewhat disappointed to see that the Historic Society and Commission have spoken against any improvements to Mass. Ave, citing its historic importance. Having grown up in Lexington and living here most of my life, I share our pride in Lexington’s place in the history of our country’s battle for independence. Our role as the “birthplace of American liberty” will never change, and a plan to make our roadways safer for our citizens in this 21st century will not diminish that important role. We are not Colonial Williamsburg or Sturbridge Village, and our citizens are not acting in an historic tableaux. We are 32,000+ citizens - walkers, bikers, drivers, all ages and all physical conditions, who live here today - and we all deserve safety in our travels around Town.

The charge that these improvements will “urbanize” our Town is bizarre. We are not a quaint and small town anymore - and have not been for many, many years. We are a bustling, attractive and diverse Town with highly ranked schools, great public services, many businesses, tourists, and too many cars and trucks. The state has evaluated our traffic conditions as seriously needing safety modifications, and a sensible plan has been developed with much local involvement and citizen input. Let’s open our eyes and be honest - it is time to make Mass. Ave. safer - because of the challenging conditions caused by our heavy traffic volumes and accident rates. We can’t afford to wait any longer. Now is the time!

Sandra Shaw

Wachusett Drive

This letter was submitted to the Friends of the Center Streetscape Project on October 14, 2015

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Proponents seek safer streets, sidewalks
The Lexington Minuteman

Wendy Manz, October 8, 2015

The Town’s traffic engineers and professional consultants say that “smart” - that is, vehicle-detecting, programmable - traffic signals at the Woburn Street, Maple Street, and Pleasant Street intersections are the best way to reduce crashes and injury rates, and to provide safe intervals for cyclists and pedestrians crossing the road and for residents exiting driveways.

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This is a call for help.

We’re proud of Lexington’s high ratings in so many aspects of life - but our high rating for dangerous streets and sidewalks is nothing to be proud of. Lexington Center has more bicycle, car, and pedestrian crashes than most town centers in Massachusetts.

Lexington’s 2003 Comprehensive Plan, which included a town-wide traffic analysis, identified the Mass. Ave. intersections at Pleasant St, Maple St, Marrett Rd, and Woburn St as among the most accident-ridden and dysfunctional spots of roadway in town.

The plan recommended changes in both layout and traffic control, including the use of traffic signals.

After more than a decade of study, analysis, and development, with numerous public meetings and scrutiny from citizen-staffed Town boards and committees, two necessary and well-thought-out infrastructure improvement projects have emerged: the Center Streetscape Project and the East Mass. Ave. Roadway Improvements Project. They both address the consequences of having some 21,000 vehicles course through Mass. Ave. every day.

The main road, sidewalks and drainage systems of Lexington Center are failing and overdue for rebuilding. The Center project will address these problems and also the Center’s high crash rate. It will take advantage of the existing need to rebuild infrastructure to deliver a streetscape that’s safer, more accessible, and more welcoming for families, seniors, visitors, children and people with disabilities, encouraging people to get out of their cars to do errands, browse the shops, and visit restaurants.

The East Mass. Ave. project will rebuild the sidewalks and roadway between Pleasant St and Marrett Road, add pull-offs at bus stops, and fix the confusing, traffic-choked intersections that plague this part of town. It will improve efficiency, and add traffic calming and important safety features for all users. And it will be paid for by the State.

The Town’s traffic engineers and professional consultants say that “smart” - that is, vehicle-detecting, programmable - traffic signals at the Woburn Street, Maple Street, and Pleasant Street intersections are the best way to reduce crashes and injury rates, and to provide safe intervals for cyclists and pedestrians crossing the road and for residents exiting driveways.

But here’s the problem. Opponents are stonewalling these projects because they don’t like traffic lights. They equate these ordinary features of a 21st century road system with all the changes that inevitably occur in a historic, but living and growing, town. They fear that traffic signals will destroy the historic significance of a route that existed in 1775, but which is now an overburdened thoroughfare in need of traffic control.

These fears are misplaced. No one is talking about putting signals on the Battle Green, in front of the Minuteman statue, or at any other landmarks of historic significance.

Instead, these projects will place lights at heavily used points on our town’s main artery - near Wilson Farm, a gas station, and a Dunkin’ Donuts - to regulate the virtual firehose of Mass. Ave. traffic that causes extensive, frustrating back-ups on entering streets.

Far from diminishing our quality of life, the recommended smart traffic signals will make things better. For all of us.

Here is how you can help. Become informed about the Center Streetscape and East Mass Ave projects - they involve so much more than traffic lights. Sign the petition in favor of these projects at www.lexstreetscape.info. And attend the public meeting about the East Mass. Ave. project on October 14, 7 p.m., Lexington High School auditorium. It is vital that we show the Board of Selectmen and Town Meeting that the public supports these projects.

Let’s join together and make these two sensible, fiscally responsible road projects a reality.

Wendy Manz is an attorney and Town Meeting Member writing on behalf of the Friends of the Center Streetscape Project, www.lexstreetscape.info. She can be reached at contact@lexstreetscape.info.

This Op-Ed originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on October 8, 2015

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Fixing Mass. Ave. is important
The Lexington Minuteman

Karen Longeteig, October 8, 2015

Traffic-calming measures have been needed for a long time, and contrary to claims that this project is being “rushed,’ it has actually been studied for more than a decade and under development for seven years. Pedestrians have been killed and injured on this road while trying to cross; it needs to be reconfigured to ensure safety.

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I write in support of two important road improvement projects under development by the Town’s engineers. The first is the Center Streetscape Project. It will cover Mass Ave from Woburn St to Meriam St. The project will be an opportunity to make our Center safer, more beautiful, and more vital not only for people who drive, but for elders, children, cyclists, and people with disabilities. That vitality should help our Center businesses, too.

The other project is the East Mass. Ave. Roadway Improvements Project. It deals with the Avenue from Pleasant St to Marrett Rd. This section more aptly could be called the speedway rather than the avenue. Traffic-calming measures have been needed for a long time, and contrary to claims that this project is being “rushed,’ it has actually been studied for more than a decade and under development for seven years. Pedestrians have been killed and injured on this road while trying to cross; it needs to be reconfigured to ensure safety. Construction of this project - 100% - will be paid for by the State, with design costs borne by the Town.

Learn more about these projects by visiting www.lexstreetscape.info, and show your support for fixing Lexington‘s aging infrastructure in two ways: (1) by joining me in signing the petition at lexstreetscape.info/petition.php, and (2) by attending the Board of Selectmen‘s public forum on Wednesday, October 14, 7 pm, at the Lexington High School auditorium.

Karen Longeteig

Concord Avenue

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on October 8, 2015

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Previous accidents are a call for traffic lights
The Lexington Minuteman

Deborah Weiner Soule, October 8, 2015

I once asked our friend Dan Fenn, then a Selectman for the town, what it would take to get a traffic light put in at the Maple Street and Massachusetts Avenue intersection. He said, without much hesitation: “Have a really bad accident.” There have been many - including at least one that was fatal. Enough already; let’s accept our shared responsibility as citizens to support increased safety and improved traffic flow in our town. It will make all our lives better.

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From my home on Maple Street, I’ll often hear sirens. If I look out the window, I’ll soon see one emergency vehicle after another, racing down the street. Inevitably, it’s another accident at the corner of Maple Street and Massachusetts Avenue the latest in a continuing series that occur as drivers try to get onto Massachusetts Avenue, duck around, squeeze in, or otherwise beat the relentless push of cars moving down our main road.

On the town email list I read posts from people who come up with a string of reasons why traffic lights on the east side of town are bad - historic district, negative impact on house values, increase of traffic in other areas or on their particular street, etc. “Not in my back yard” they say: let it go somewhere else, but keep it out of my neighborhood.

We must acknowledge that accidents impact all of us: if it‘s not you, me, or your child, it’s someone else that will be struck by a car, or worse. Traffic lights at busy intersections help to control the flow of traffic and increase safety. The committee that has studied this matter has solid data to back up the current proposal for the installation of traffic lights, and for once, our selfish “not in my back yard” behavior needs to give way to reason.

I once asked our friend Dan Fenn, then a Selectman for the town, what it would take to get a traffic light put in at the Maple Street and Massachusetts Avenue intersection. He said, without much hesitation: “Have a really bad accident.” There have been many - including at least one that was fatal. Enough already; let’s accept our shared responsibility as citizens to support increased safety and improved traffic flow in our town. It will make all our lives better.

Deborah Weiner Soule

Maple Street

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on October 8, 2015

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Time to reconstruct Massachusetts Avenue is now
Direct Submission

George & Christina Gamota, October 4, 2015

As a resident of Lexington for 29 years my wife and I appreciate and greatly value the importance and significance of Massachusetts Avenue (Battle Road) in our Nation’s history. Both of us are members of the Lexington Historical Society and George is a member of the Board. What we want to address is safety of our citizens. Lexington stewardship is historically important but safety of our citizens has to come first and foremost, and be a more critical factor in the Town’s decision making capacity.

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As a resident of Lexington for 29 years my wife and I appreciate and greatly value the importance and significance of Massachusetts Avenue (Battle Road) in our Nation’s history. Both of us are members of the Lexington Historical Society and George is a member of the Board. What we want to address is safety of our citizens. Lexington stewardship is historically important but safety of our citizens has to come first and foremost, and be a more critical factor in the Town’s decision making capacity.

There is a large segment of Lexington residents who have to put up with incredible rush hour backups in Lexington causing numerous traffic accidents and congestion adding to burning of fuel. Anyone who needs to drive up Maple [Street] between 7 and 9:30 am, or 4 to 7 pm knows what we mean. On numerous times the backup stretches all the way to Lowell Street. It used to be that residents on this side of Mass Avenue could use Woburn Street to get to the center of town; but, no longer since the backup on Woburn sometimes is as bad as on Maple. On many occasions I have driven to Arlington Heights or Burlington to get to the Center of Lexington.

People who use mass transportation and need to get on an MBTA bus to get to work going east of Lexington face the daunting task of crossing Mass Avenue at the same time as traffic is coming east on Mass Avenue, cars trying to turn left off of Maple and at the same time cars coming west on Mass Avenue - four lanes of traffic. I see people zigzagging between cars trying to catch the bus. Even if one lane stops, the adjoining one seldom does due to lack of visibility. Some of the people are elderly coming from Emerson Gardens apartments and during summer teens get on the bus to go to Boston or Cambridge. It is a miracle that there have not been more fatalities. When I have been away, my wife who does not drive had to make this crossing when she needed to get to MGH or other appointments in Boston.

The same daunting situation occurs at the intersection of Woburn Street and Mass Avenue. People try to catch the MBTA busses going east have to zigzag their way crossing Mass Avenue. At a time when Lexington ascribes to be a leader in getting people to increase the use of mass transportation, ride bikes or walk, we make it dangerous and a safety hazard to leave the car behind.

Compounding serious hazard and safety issues, we now have the Community Center on Marrett Road where we expect our residents and children to use it up to 8 pm starting this fall. Recently, as one of us sat patiently in our car at 4: 30 pm on Maple trying to turn left on Mass Avenue, I saw 3 teens coming from the Community Center riding their bikes, trying to cross Marrett Road, then Mass Ave to make it to the sidewalk on Maple where they could get on to the bike path. Fortunately they walked their bikes rather than trying to ride in the traffic after one brave soul tried and failed. This occurs many times and only will get worse as the day is shorter and more kids use the Community center for after school activities or when school is out. There is no cross walk coming from Community Center and the one on Mass Avenue in heavy traffic is of little use with four lanes of cars.

The issue of traffic lights in Lexington has been discussed for many years and studies have been done. Some signalization has been added west of the Green helping with traffic and safety (including lights for the bicycle path). We need action now on the east side of the Center to avoid having one of us or our children killed or crippled because of the safety hazard at our intersections. Arguments have been made of adding traffic circles instead. While these might help congestion, they are of little use to pedestrians or bicyclists.

This is not only a morning issue, in the evening the rush begins at Pleasant Street and Mass Avenue and continues to the center. The backup sometimes is up to near Route 2 as people try to turn left from Pleasant Street to Mass Avenue. Then people drive past Maple and due to the heavy traffic Maple Street is again backed up. The same occurs on Marrett Road since people cannot turn left easily due to the heavy traffic going east.

We urge our elected officials to side with safety and approve the signalization east from the Center on Mass Avenue. Specifically at the Mass Avenue intersections on Woburn, Marrett/Maple and Pleasant street. With funding on hand we do not have to wait for more studies and then pay extra in overrides or tax increases.

George & Christina Gamota

Solomon Pierce Road

An edited version of this letter appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on October 8, 2015.

This letter was submitted to the Friends of the Center Streetscape Project on October 4, 2015

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Should Mass. Ave. in East Lexington get new traffic lights and crosswalks? YES.
The Boston Globe West

Rita Goldberg, October 4, 2015

The new approach won’t lessen traffic, but would return us to a slower, safer use of our streets, one perhaps closer to a time before congestion. Vehicle traffic will run more efficiently and with fewer frustrations, in turn keeping traffic on Massachusetts Avenue and out of abutting neighborhoods. It should also become a little smoother, thanks to the planned synchronized high-tech lights and crosswalks, properly allocated bike lanes and landscaping, and redesigned sidewalks. These changes will help walkers of all abilities, and will improve visibility and calm traffic at crucial turns and crossways.

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I’m in favor of the Massachusetts Avenue plan because it will make this beautiful and historic part of East Lexington safer for all users - residents, through-travelers, and tourists alike.

Few residents would dispute the proposition that Lexington’s traffic has increased and become more dangerous in recent years. The is especially true for pedestrians and cyclists, who have suffered a fatality, serious injuries, and innumerable near-misses in East Lexington alone. Doing nothing will only increase these grim statistics and is not an option. The proposal - really a town plan with state financial and engineering support - would benefit pedestrians and cyclists especially, because for the first time their use of the street would be central, not peripheral to motor vehicles. That is the way of the future - the way to make our streets safer for all users.

The new approach won’t lessen traffic, but would return us to a slower, safer use of our streets, one perhaps closer to a time before congestion. Vehicle traffic will run more efficiently and with fewer frustrations, in turn keeping traffic on Massachusetts Avenue and out of abutting neighborhoods. It should also become a little smoother, thanks to the planned synchronized high-tech lights and crosswalks, properly allocated bike lanes and landscaping, and redesigned sidewalks. These changes will help walkers of all abilities, and will improve visibility and calm traffic at crucial turns and crossways.

The three intersections are all in my neighborhood, and I encounter their weaknesses daily: the long tailbacks of cars, the risky behavior that ill-designed junctions invite, the inhospitable, almost impossible crossings for non-motorists.

I know that change can be a challenge. But these changes are not being imposed from above; our opinions and experience have been actively solicited, in part by our own fellow citizens. I look forward to the collaborative solution that will bring safety and indeed enhanced beauty - through carefully designed car and bike lanes, better crosswalks, traffic-calming landscaping and new trees - to all users of our historic streets. I want to see an end to the collisions, deaths, and injuries that our traffic, unchecked, continues to bring. And what could be more beautiful than that?

Rita Goldberg

Lexington Town Meeting member and author of Article 45 on crosswalk safety, which was unanimously adopted by Town Meeting in April

This letter originally appeared in The Boston Globe West on October 4, 2015

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Streetscape project will benefit all
The Lexington Minuteman

Residents of the Douglas House, October 1, 2015

We are a community of 15 individuals with acquired brain injury who live at Douglas House on 7 Oakland Street in Lexington. More than half of us (eight) are wheelchair bound. For all of us, our brain injuries cause impaired motor skills and planning, along with judgment issues. We fully utilize the Lexington community for all of its available services.

We support the Center Streetscape Project wholeheartedly because of its intention for improving safety for all.

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We are a community of 15 individuals with acquired brain injury who live at Douglas House on 7 Oakland Street in Lexington. More than half of us (eight) are wheelchair bound. For all of us, our brain injuries cause impaired motor skills and planning, along with judgment issues. We fully utilize the Lexington community for all of its available services.

We support the Center Streetscape Project wholeheartedly because of its intention for improving safety for all. Lengthening the time to cross streets safely, widening sidewalks, and fixing curb cuts to make sidewalks more accessible is needed.

This is not only about us. It is about the entire community. Everyone ages, day by day.

We appreciate Lexington for accepting us as part of their community. We thank you for your continued support, and for considering our needs.

Robert Byrne, Benjamin Halsband, Brian Welch, Donald Rondeau, David Ruley, Maura Redmond, Michael McDonough, Richard Trzepacz, Jeremy Slover, Lisa Hemingway, Gary Marshall, Steve Alibrandi, John Hogle, John Long, and Howard Lam of the Douglas House

Oakland Street

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on October 1, 2015

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Lights no more intrusive than paved roads
The Lexington Minuteman

Irene Dondley, October 1, 2015

Just as we now know how dangerous it can be to not wear helmets or seat belts, we can no longer ignore that we have a road that is unsafe. Anecdotes are not an argument to stop improvements that will make our roads safer for all.

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Traffic lights are no more intrusive to the historic nature of Lexington than paved roads, street lights and utility poles. Just as these improvements have been necessary to our modern day life, traffic lights are necessary to improve traffic flow and to increase pedestrian safety. Many of us, myself included, navigate Mass Ave without incident. I grew up riding a bike without a helmet and riding in cars without a seat belt without a problem. Others were not so lucky. On our main artery, many have also not been so lucky.

Massachusetts Avenue is rated by Mass DOT as one of the unsafest stretches of roads in Massachusetts. Traffic lights help mitigate injuries to non-motorists as well as reducing the overall number of crashes. At the Massachusetts Avenue and Woburn Street intersection, 25% of the crashes resulted in injuries while only 8.9% of the crashes at the Massachusetts Avenue and Waltham Street traffic light caused injuries.

Just as we now know how dangerous it can be to not wear helmets or seat belts, we can no longer ignore that we have a road that is unsafe. Anecdotes are not an argument to stop improvements that will make our roads safer for all. Additional traffic lights on Massachusetts Avenue are no more intrusive to the historic nature of Lexington than the light we currently have in the Center. Let’s vote for safer travels for everyone.

Irene Dondley

Leonard Rd

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on October 1, 2015

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Shade Street is an example of progress
The Lexington Minuteman

Phil Jackson, October 1, 2015

I was guilty myself, questioning whether a light at Spring Street and Marrett Road would destroy our neighborhood. The light actually is a blessing, both for safety’s sake and for making the intersection much more efficient for all users. Plus the intersection looks immeasurably better now that it has been updated.

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This letter is long overdue, but I wanted to express my sincere thanks to John Livsey, Dave Cannon and the entire Engineering Department over at the Department of Public Works for their attention, concern and expertise in devising plans to start to calm traffic on Shade Street. While cut-through traffic is still an issue and people who ignore speed limits are never going away, we have made progress in slowing people down, and that is welcome to all who live in this much-traversed neighborhood.

The yeoman’s work that engineering performs daily hits home to me when I watch the debate over adding a few traffic signals to overburdened and broken intersections along Mass. Ave. We laypeople tend to question and pick apart these plans, adding in our own narrow and casual observations as to how traffic lights or intersections work. Honestly, just because we drive cars does not even remotely qualify us as knowledgeable about traffic behavior and flow.

I was guilty myself, questioning whether a light at Spring Street and Marrett Road would destroy our neighborhood. The light actually is a blessing, both for safety’s sake and for making the intersection much more efficient for all users. Plus the intersection looks immeasurably better now that it has been updated. Engineering’s patience and reasonableness was and is astounding, given our proclivity to judge their plans, many times with raw emotions overriding decorum. They deserve hazardous duty pay. While all may not love the changes needed, we should step back and realize that these are experts who deserve our respect. We have a cadre of smart, award-winning people working for us over at DPW, who along with our town manager and our selectmen listened to us on Shade Street and thoughtfully collaborated to give us relief. Kudos to all.

Phil Jackson

Shade Street

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on October 1, 2015

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Traffic lights will bring back safe streets
The Lexington Minuteman

Chris Neurath, September 24, 2015

As far as the objection that traffic lights would harm the character of this area of East Lexington, I believe the opposite would occur. It would allow people to safely get to the Community Center from their homes and the bikeway. Traffic would be slowed down on Mass. Ave. and this area might again be the cohesive neighborhood it once was.

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As a resident who lives just off Massachusetts Avenue in East Lexington, I find it incredible that some people are questioning the need for improving pedestrian safety along this section of Mass Ave. I’ve attended meetings for this project going back several years, and although I was initially skeptical, I have been convinced that traffic lights are the only way to sufficiently improve safety.

We live within walking distance of the new Lexington Community Center, but we have to cross Mass. Ave. to get there. All the crosswalks are deathtraps. They require negotiating high-speed traffic, sometimes across four lanes, and some with blind curves preventing drivers from even realizing a crosswalk is approaching, assuming the drivers aren’t already distracted with their cell-phones. The walk to school initiative is a joke for our neighborhood, since I would never allow elementary school kids to try to cross Mass. Ave.

Many people mistakenly believe that traffic lights in East Lexington would cause increased cut-throughs of back streets. But the cut-throughs now are caused by drivers trying to avoid the backups on Pleasant St, Marrett Rd, and Maple St. Lights would reduce these backups considerably, with only a modest delay for the Mass. Ave. through traffic. There would be much less reason for anyone to cut through back streets. When lights were recently installed at Marrett and Spring Streets, a dramatic reduction in back street cut-throughs was found.

As far as the objection that traffic lights would harm the character of this area of East Lexington, I believe the opposite would occur. It would allow people to safely get to the Community Center from their homes and the bikeway. Traffic would be slowed down on Mass. Ave. and this area might again be the cohesive neighborhood it once was.

Chris Neurath

Byron Avenue

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on September 24, 2015

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Old center of town is not returning
The Lexington Minuteman

Vicki Blier, September 17, 2015

Fighting against traffic lights isn’t going to bring the old Lexington back or make the traffic go away. If anything, a more pedestrian-friendly center will help Center businesses and improve the prospects for regaining the vibrant Center we all miss.

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I miss the Lexington Center of yesterday with Maunder’s grocery store and Ingall’s Stationers and Decelles department store with great family clothing bargains, and the cigar store Indian and cool stuff at Colonial Pharmacy, and a Mass Ave that was easy to cross. I wish that we didn’t have desperate backups at Maple Street and Pleasant Street and a higher accident rate than almost every other town center in Massachusetts. I wish that 21,600 cars didn’t pass through Lexington Center on a typical day (23,000 through the Woburn St. intersection).

But that’s not the Lexington of today, and fighting against traffic lights isn’t going to bring the old Lexington back or make the traffic go away. If anything, a more pedestrian-friendly center will help Center businesses and improve the prospects for regaining the vibrant Center we all miss.

It’s not the modern smart traffic lights proposed for Mass Ave that are the problem - it’s the traffic! Please learn the facts before you form an opinion. (Hint: there are not “eight traffic lights going 24 hours a day, 7 days a week” in the proposed plan as claimed by some opponents). Myths vs. Facts, engineering plans, crash data, and information about modern, smart, programmable high-tech traffic lights with vehicle sensors are available on the website sponsored by Friends of the Lexington Streetscape Project: www.lexstreetscape.info

We only get to upgrade our roads once every two or three decades. Plan for the future. Tell the Selectmen and your Town Meeting Members that you support the traffic safety improvements for Mass Ave as designed by the experts.

Vicki Blier

Shade Street

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on September 17, 2015

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Safety & Controlled Traffic Flow: Reasons to vote in favor of Phase I of the Lexington Center Streetscape Improvements
Harry Forsdick’s Blog

Harry Forsdick, March 31, 2015

Reading these reports carefully, I like what I now understand. The plans of this multiphase, multiyear project improve many difficult spots in Lexington Center and do it in a modern way using modern roadway and walkway construction techniques.

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Over the past 24 hours I have read a lot of material about the proposed changes to the intersection of Woburn St & Mass Ave. After learning a lot about the plan for this intersection and other aspects of the Center Streetscape Improvements project, and after actually thinking about how these changes will change things in Lexington, I have changed my mind about this upcoming vote at Town Meeting.

I have changed my mind and now urge those of you on Town Meeting to vote in favor of this Phase I of the design and plan.

I realize, after reading reports to the Board of Selectmen as well as analysis published by the Town Meeting Members Association, that there is a lot more to these plans than just the changes to the Woburn St & Mass Ave intersection. Reading these reports carefully, I like what I now understand. The plans of this multiphase, multiyear project improve many difficult spots in Lexington Center and do it in a modern way using modern roadway and walkway construction techniques. Yesterday I cited the new traffic circle at Diamond Middle School as an example of a recent set of changes near my house that I really like. I base my impression based on going through this intersection several times a day.

First, what is being voted on at this 2015 Spring Town Meeting (from http://lexingtontmma.org/uploads/Main/WarrantInfo2015.pdf)?

Center Streetscape Improvements-Phase 1 - $2,500,000 (General Fund Debt): This project is Phase 1 of a multi-phased request to address pedestrian, bicycle and traffic safety in the Center. As part of the design and analysis work for this project, in FY13 funding was approved for traffic counts and traffic modeling of multiple scenarios and for the design to progress to the 25% stage. The FY15 request of $600,000 provided funding to complete the design and develop plans and specifications necessary for bidding the project. The construction funding is requested in multiple years. The construction phases will provide for certain pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular safety improvements, the restoration, removal and replacement of the sidewalk along the northerly side of Massachusetts Avenue from Woburn Street to Harrington Road, streetscape improvement, improved lighting as well as other aspects developed in the Plan. In addition to the restoration of these areas, all of the existing pedestrian corridors and ramps will be brought into ADA compliance. This phase of the project will be for the portion of Massachusetts Avenue from Woburn Street to Cary Hall.

The Center Streetscape Improvements project is a multi-phase, multi-year project. Looking at the project's overall planned phases it looks great to me. It's interesting that this Phase 1 appears to be solving the largest safety problem in the entire multi-phase project: the intersection of Woburn St. & Mass Ave. Other aspects of the project are excellent improvements also, including another safety issue for pedestrians and tourists around the Minuteman Statue.

Regarding the Woburn St & Mass Ave intersection, Joe Pato's illustration inspired me to find other examples which I think are informative. First, here are two before and after illustrations of what the changes will look like.

This is looking towards Lexington Center:

Existing and Proposed Views

This is a view behind the two people walking in the the above illustration, looking down Winthrop Rd. toward the intersection:

Existing and Proposed Views

Finally, here is a overhead picture/diagram before and after the improvements:

Before and after overhead views

To me, these improvements to intersection create an improved look and better definition to entering Lexington Center.

In summary, I see several major improvements by voting for the Phase I Lexington Center Streetscape project:

  1. With the box in the center of the intersection there is much better separation and definition about where you are supposed to be. Pedestrians clearly know where to walk and cars know where to expect pedestrians. With the traffic light, cars will no longer need to play Crash Car Combat™ when making a left turn onto Woburn St coming out of the Center. Pedestrians will no longer need to play Frogger™ when trying to get from one sidewalk to another.
  2. Like it or not, the amount of traffic going through Lexington Center seems to have increased over the years. One of the effects of a traffic light at the Woburn St/Mass Ave intersection will be to spread cars over a greater distance in the Center. At times of high traffic, the stream of cars that build up at the light at Mass Ave and Waltham St is large. It is rare at these times that cars headed towards the Minuteman Statue on Mass Av are able to clear the left-turn signal on to Waltham St in one cycle of the light. This results in much frustration and lane changing of cars in the left lane that want to go straight through that intersection.

    The traffic light at Mass Ave and Woburn St will introduce a beneficial delay in the flow of traffic spreading the traffic load over a longer distance of Mass Ave.

Thank you all for reading about my thoughts that have evolved over the last day and a half. I hope Town Meeting Members will support this article when it comes up for vote.

Regards,
--Harry

This letter originally appeared in Harry Forsdick’s Blog on March 31, 2015

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Lexingtonians to benefit from Center Streetscape Project
The Lexington Minuteman

Serena Crystal, August 13, 2015

I would never elect as a pedestrian to cross the street at the intersection of Winthrop Road and Massachusetts Avenue unless the streets were devoid of traffic in all directions, a friend or bodyguard accompanied me or a police officer on duty guided traffic.

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I would like to add my support to the Center Streetscape Project. I would never elect as a pedestrian to cross the street at the intersection of Winthrop Road and Massachusetts Avenue unless the streets were devoid of traffic in all directions, a friend or bodyguard accompanied me or a police officer on duty guided traffic. I have nearly been struck by heedless drivers while in the middle of the crosswalk at the Post Office. When I drive to Lexington Ace Hardware, I do not drive down Winthrop Road to Mass. Ave., which would be a more direct route for me, but turn right onto Highland Avenue, left onto Slocum Road and then to Mass. Ave., where I feel safer executing the left turn onto Mass. Ave. Returning from Lexington Ace Hardware along Woburn Street, I rarely cross Mass. Ave. to Winthrop Road unless there is no traffic at all, as I fear crossing the traffic to and from the Center.

What could be more important than people’s lives, safety and well-being? Even one fatality - and there have been more - is intolerable, especially if improved reconfiguration of the traffic design in the Center might create spaces of enhanced safety for everyone. If traffic lights are a necessary part of that reconfiguration for public safety, they should be accepted and implemented.

It’s interesting to recall the many letters and debates in the Lexington Minuteman about the inn that replaced the Dana Home of Lexington. Neighbors feared loud, inebriated patrons parking in front of their houses. Perhaps those neighbors now enjoy dinners at Artistry on the Green and appreciate the inn’s presence. Transitions are often difficult to accept. Hopefully more townspeople will acknowledge that the intersection is inherently dangerous, and that lives are rarely safeguarded by courtesy alone.

Serena Crystal

Grapevine Avenue

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on August 13, 2015

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Traffic lights to increase safety in Lexington
The Lexington Minuteman

Margaret Storch, August 13, 2015

As the work will take years to complete, the plans look to the future, taking into account not only the needs of Lexington today but the needs of Lexington at least 20 years from now. We can anticipate that in 20 years there may be more residents, more cars and possibly more people with mobility issues. Biking is rapidly becoming a major means of transportation, and in the future, cars will need to share more of the road with bikers and pedestrians.

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The Lexington Center Streetscape Project website, lexstreetscape.info, provides detailed information about many issues regarding infrastructure and safety along Massachusetts Avenue in Lexington Center: broken or crumbling sidewalks, unsafe pedestrian crossings, poor drainage and inadequate provisions for bikers.

Clearly, these conditions call for major renovations and improvements that will most economically and effectively be carried out as a unified project. As the work will take years to complete, the plans look to the future, taking into account not only the needs of Lexington today but the needs of Lexington at least 20 years from now. We can anticipate that in 20 years there may be more residents, more cars and possibly more people with mobility issues. Biking is rapidly becoming a major means of transportation, and in the future, cars will need to share more of the road with bikers and pedestrians.

Currently, public controversy is focused on the Woburn Street / Mass. Ave. intersection, both for its relative safety and for the proposed redesign. According to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation crash portal, between 2002 and 2013, at Woburn Street / Mass. Ave., 80 crashes occurred, with 25 percent causing injuries. (Relatively few pedestrians attempt to cross at this intersection, choosing less convenient but safer routes.)

At the Mass. Ave / Waltham Street intersection, where there are traffic lights, there were 56 crashes with 9 percent causing injuries. Traffic lights can significantly increase safety.

Some continue to object to the proposed lights at Woburn Street / Mass. Ave., mainly for aesthetic reasons. However the proposals and images on pages three to five of the particulars section of the Streetscape website indicate that the lights will be fairly unobtrusive. They will, moreover, be state-of-the art smart lights. For examples of nearby towns that have successfully installed traffic lights in historic districts, visit Wayland or Wellesley.

Please, let us resolve our differences quickly and allow this important project to go ahead.

Margaret Storch

Concord Avenue

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on August 13, 2015

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My experience with the Revere/Bedford stoplight
Direct Submission

Deb Mauger, August 1, 2015

[A]fter the light was installed, I was more than pleasantly surprised. My life became so much easier! It was much easier to get out of my neighborhood at peak traffic times. Given the “smart technology” of the lights, at night or low traffic times I would never wait. My approach would cause the light to turn green.

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I have been hearing from friends in Lexington about the ongoing discussion concerning stop lights at various locations in Town. I thought it might be helpful to convey my experience with the stoplight that was installed at Revere and Bedford Streets in my old neighborhood.

Without the light, it was very difficult to turn onto Bedford St. from either Revere or Hill, especially at rush hour or at school start and release times. Often times our neighborhood was used as a cut through for 128 traffic. When I heard about the plans for the stoplight I had the usual qualms about change. I guess I thought about all the times I'd sat at red lights rather than the times I'd sat waiting to turn or merge into traffic.

In any event, after the light was installed, I was more than pleasantly surprised. My life became so much easier! It was much easier to get out of my neighborhood at peak traffic times. Given the “smart technology” of the lights, at night or low traffic times I would never wait. My approach would cause the light to turn green. And, the light made the cut through traffic move much more efficiently.

The stoplight did not end all my wait time in traffic since all of Lexington was experiencing increased volumes of traffic on all roadways. In fact, when I have been back in Town, I have been quite surprised at how much traffic there is in Lexington. But, I just wanted to let you know that my qualms about the stoplight in my neighborhood did not come true and quite the opposite occurred. My quality of life improved dramatically with the installation of the light and I was very grateful to the Town, the staff, Town Meeting and the citizens of Lexington for their commitment to improving my old neighborhood.

Deb Mauger

Wellfleet

Former Member of the Lexington Board of Selectmen

This letter was submitted to the Friends of the Center Streetscape Project on August 1, 2015

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Streetscape Project is the best way
The Lexington Minuteman

Wendy Manz, July 30, 2015

After four years of public meetings, committee deliberation and professional design work, a plan for the first leg of the Center Streetscape Project, including the signalized intersection, was presented to the 2015 annual Town Meeting. It received a strong majority vote of 97-64, but fell just short of the two-thirds that is required for a project to be financed by town borrowing.

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As I read Beverly Kelley’s recent letter, I am concerned about the assumption that most town residents oppose signalization as part of the redesign of the Woburn Street and Mass. Ave. intersection. After four years of public meetings, committee deliberation and professional design work, a plan for the first leg of the Center Streetscape Project, including the signalized intersection, was presented to the 2015 annual Town Meeting. It received a strong majority vote of 97-64, but fell just short of the two-thirds that is required for a project to be financed by town borrowing.

As an inveterate attender of meetings, I have watched this process develop, and am persuaded that the design presented is the best available solution for the congestion, and more importantly, the danger this intersection poses to pedestrians and cyclists.

As the town continues to discuss the project, it is vital that we have solid information on which to base our conclusions. That is why a group of us have created a website called Friends of the Lexington Center Streetscape Project which can be found at lexstreetscape.info. The site details the entire project, includes schematics of the intersection and nearby crosswalks, and summarizes the alternatives considered before the final proposal was chosen. We are assembling more data on the number of vehicles that pass through this point, the number of accidents and close calls that occur there, and the ways in which our Center is falling short of the welcoming place we want it to be, safe and accessible to all modes of use, not just cars.

We invite you to take a look and to give us feedback as we add more information over the summer. This is a key decision. It would be very sad if a well-developed and much-needed project is held hostage to an aversion to traffic lights.

Wendy Manz

Ellison Road

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on July 30, 2015

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Streetscape Project will improve pedestrian safety
The Lexington Minuteman

Melinda Walker, July 30, 2015

One of the important benefits of the redesign of the major thoroughfare through Lexington will be improvement in pedestrian safety. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has identified the length of Massachusetts Avenue from town hall to the Minuteman statue as being a “high crash cluster for pedestrians.”

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I am writing in support of the Center Streetscape Project. One of the important benefits of the redesign of the major thoroughfare through Lexington will be improvement in pedestrian safety. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has identified the length of Massachusetts Avenue from town hall to the Minuteman statue as being a “high crash cluster for pedestrians.”

As things are now, the existence of the crosswalks creates a false sense of security for pedestrians. Many of the crosswalks are poorly marked, almost invisible at nighttime and do not have appropriate sight lines. The proliferation of large motor vehicles, including SUVS, vans, trucks, etc., has made it difficult for pedestrians and motorists to see one another at intersections. In the past few years, pedestrian fatalities have occurred in crosswalks. Efforts need to be made to improve the configuration of the crosswalks to avoid more serious accidents and fatalities.

The Center Streetscape Project is a perfect opportunity to address pedestrian safety in a careful way. The initial transportation data collection efforts by the BETA Group, Inc. has yielded cost-responsible recommendations for traffic calming and safe pedestrian access in the center. Hopefully, the Town of Lexington will be able to implement these improvements in a timely manner.

Melinda Walker

Larchmont Lane

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on July 30, 2015

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Traffic lights a must
The Lexington Minuteman

Michael Martignetti, July 9, 2015

Being an individual who always uses a wheelchair, I’ve learned the importance of function (and safety) over form.

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Town Meeting should approve the installation of traffic lights at Mass. Ave. and Woburn Street for safety reasons first and foremost. We are overthinking a decision that has already been made by the traffic engineering experts we’ve hired and by the indisputable record that Lexington has some of the most dangerous traffic in Massachusetts.

My understanding is that the project cost is under $250,000 - even if we decide we’ve made a mistake, it’s worth the risk as the economics of the project are reasonable.

Being an individual who always uses a wheelchair, I’ve learned the importance of function (and safety) over form.

Michael Martignetti

Barberry Road

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on July 9, 2015

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Take advantage of Center Streetscape Project
The Lexington Minuteman

Jeanne Krieger, July 9, 2015

Lexington suffers from all the woes associated with increased traffic, poorly protected crosswalks and technically savvy cut through drivers. Why should we not be taking advantage of current engineered solutions to ensure safety and bring renewal to our Center?

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Traffic volume since 1972, the year I moved to Lexington, has increased by 250 percent according to the Office of Highway Policy Information. The stretch of Route 128 circling Lexington was nearly 25 percent over capacity five years ago according to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. With few exceptions Lexington’s major roads and intersections are outdated and are not designed to tolerate current traffic volumes.

Drivers are equipped with the latest GPS devices to direct them to the least congested route. I’ve even had a passenger pull out her cellphone to consult Waze to determine the best route as we crept east on Massachusetts Avenue between Clark and Waltham streets at 5:30 p.m. on a weekday.

Lexington suffers from all the woes associated with increased traffic, poorly protected crosswalks and technically savvy cut through drivers. Why should we not be taking advantage of current engineered solutions to ensure safety and bring renewal to our Center?

Let’s adopt the Center Streetscape Project and couple it with any necessary traffic calming measures to protect our neighborhoods.

Jeanne Krieger

Webster Road

This letter originally appeared in The Lexington Minuteman on July 9, 2015

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Friends of the Lexington Center Streetscape Project | Lexington, MA