The Town of Amherst’s Traffic Authority has approved the installation of a new crosswalk at the intersection of Park and Mission streets.
In addition, the authority has directed that yield signs at the Mission-Park Street, Mission-York Street, Mission-Hill Street and Mission Street-Snowden Avenue intersections be replaced with stop signs.
“These changes will increase safety in this area of town for both pedestrians and motorists,” Police Chief Dwayne Pike, the town’s traffic authority, said on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020.
The decision to make the changes followed an investigation of the area that was initially requested in 2018 by people who were concerned about the safety of the children who were walking to West Highlands Elementary School from the area of Park and Mission streets. They felt a crosswalk should be installed at the Mission-Park street intersection.
A brief review conducted by the authority in the fall of that year concluded a sidewalk could not be installed because one of the criteria to install a crosswalk could not be met. The criteria say a crosswalk needs to be connected to sidewalks on both sides of the street. At the time, there was no sidewalk on Park Street across from the one on Mission Street.
Earlier this fall, Amherst town council approved the extension of the Park Street sidewalk to the Mission Street intersection and ordered the traffic authority to conduct another crosswalk review.
That review, which used criteria from the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control and was conducted over the past three weeks, indicated there was a high level of vehicular and pedestrian traffic on Park Street when children were going to school.
“The review indicated the vehicular traffic, particularly in the morning, sometimes exceeded 100 cars within a 50-minute period and that about 40 people were attempting to cross at the Park Street-Mission Street intersection,” Pike said. “This presents a clear risk without the assistance of a traffic control device, such as a crosswalk, to provide a visible mechanism for crossing.”
In addition, the review noted safety in the area would also be improved if the yield signs were replaced by stop signs at the intersections Mission Street has with Hill, York and Park streets and Snowden Avenue.
“The switch to stop signs in this area will increase safety for pedestrian traffic and provide greater assurance that motorists are stopping appropriately so that they can observe other traffic,” Pike said.
The crosswalk and stop signs are expected to be installed during the last week of October.