Pittsfield’s first roundabout is open. Here is what you can expect. | Central Berkshires
PITTSFIELD – In a few months, construction is expected to begin on a major project to redesign a section of Tyler Street and replace the five-w …
PITTSFIELD – Chances are, when the issue of a Pittsfield roundabout project is opened for public comment on Wednesday night, someone is going to laugh…
PITTSFIELD – The intersection of Tyler Street, Woodlawn Avenue and Dalton Avenue is home to the city’s first roundabout, which opened on Tuesday night. Drivers crossing the intersection are now pumping their brakes, which the city’s utilities commissioner Ricardo Morales already considers a success.
“I think right now it’s a success in terms of handling traffic and keeping speeds at safer speeds,” Morales said. “We made it a safer street, or a safer intersection for that matter.”
Morales said security was still the impetus for the change in traffic. He said city staff were “checking people in at 40, 45, 50 miles per hour” when cars crossing the Woodlawn Avenue bridge next to the former General Electric plant were dropped off in the middle of Tyler Street and of Dalton Avenue with nothing more than a stop sign. .
Now the goal is to keep the majority of traffic – around 85% of drivers – at a speed of 20 miles per hour or less.
“The goal is for people to negotiate this intersection at no more than 20 miles an hour and when you have that – even if there is confusion – it’s just safe because you have lower speeds. “said Morales.
Kurtis Andrews had a few choice words for the construction process, but said from his perspective at his office at Safelite AutoGlass, there really is no safer alternative for the city than a roundabout. .
Andrews said he remembers the ubiquitous screeching noise of tires as people narrowly avoided crashes in the old conception of traffic. He said he had heard tires since the roundabout opened, but attributes this to temporary traffic markers and a general learning curve among local drivers.
“A roundabout seems to be the only logical explanation because there are so many entrances [to surrounding businesses]”Andrews said.” But I think the execution could have been a bit smoother – but they’re not over yet, so I don’t know how it’s going to end. “
For now, the roundabout is mostly a collection of orange traffic barrels marking the spot where a raised circular median will be built. There are a multitude of road signs and painted lines marking the location of crosswalks and sidewalks.
Morales said when the work is complete the roundabout will have curbs that can be mounted to allow large trucks to navigate the curbs, the median will be filled with landscaping, and there will be new sidewalk segments that will connect the segments. previously disconnected from Tyler and Dalton.
And while roundabouts have received a lot of attention lately, this is not your grandma’s roundabout.
“It’s called a modern roundabout and the design standards are set for a design that allows people to drive at 20 miles an hour,” Morales said. “When someone thinks of a roundabout, they think of… that massive circle that confuses everyone who enters it.
“Like no, it’s very simple. Drive slowly and you will get there.
It was part of Traylee Harrington’s advice to drivers as she looked over the counter at nearby Pizza Works on Wednesday afternoon.
“Drive slowly, be careful, give way,” said Harrington. “And take back roads as much as possible. I know I wouldn’t drive like this if I was driving.
Harrington goes to his job at Pizza Works. She said above all that the roundabout and the construction process was “boring” as a pedestrian.
“I have to cross here and then here and then there,” said Harrington, mentally walking through the middle crossings of the roundabout. She said customers were more irritable when trying to find parking and the easiest way to get to the pizzeria.
“I think it’s a waste of money,” Harrington said. “The original setup was better – put on a few traffic lights and call it a day.”
Morales said the original project was budgeted for $ 1.2 million, with $ 60,000 set aside to acquire easements on the Safelite property and a residential property on the east side of Woodlawn to add new sidewalk segments. The roundabout opened on schedule despite some initial bumps in the road.
Morales said when crews started digging the intersection they found contaminated soil at the GE site and old railway ties from the long-standing Pittsfield light rail line. Excessive rains in July put work on another standstill, but Morales said construction crews have been able to “get creative” and complete the roundabout almost entirely in the past three months.
And of course, there are also the driving habits of the residents. As Morales stood by the roundabout on Wednesday afternoon, pacing as maintenance trucks, cyclists and large tractor-trailers slowly passed through the once dangerous intersection without a problem, a Pittsfield patrol vehicle drove through turned on his lights and took a left turn from Tyler Street to Woodlawn Avenue against the flow of traffic.