Residents of Theurer Park have had enough of cars whizzing down their short street to get in and out of the Stop & Shop Plaza on Watertown Street, and they have asked the town to stop the dangerous traffic in their neighborhood.
Wednesday evening, residents heard a report from the town’s traffic consultants, WorldTech, which looked at traffic in the neighborhood in the South End, near the Newton line.
Residents from Theurer Park brought their concerns to the Watertown Traffic Commission in May after two accidents in the intersection formed at Watertown Street with Theurer Park and the entrance to the Stop & Shop Plaza.
“We are seeing folks gunning it to get across Watertown Street (to get out of the Stop & Shop lot) and keep going down Theurer,” said Marie Schick, one of the organizers of the Theurer Park Neighborhood Committee. “I have two 4-year-olds and they said, ‘Tell them to give us a sign that says Slow Down.’”
Gerry Mee, superintendent of Public Works, said he is not in favor of signs because people tend to ignore them.
Ten to 15 children live right on Theurer Park, said Mary Lee Hegarty, who has lived on the street for 51 years. She worries that one of them will be hit by a car speeding down the street. She is also worried that the crosswalk near the Stop & Shop Plaza does not have handicap ramps for wheelchairs.
“When is it going to be fixed? Someone is going to get hit,” Hegarty said.
The traffic began getting worse about 5 years ago, Hegarty said, and it keeps getting worse.
The traffic study found 11 reported accidents on Watertown Street between Morse Street and Theurer Park. Residents said they often see fender benders where the drivers exchange information but don’t report it to police.
Some residents asked Watertown officials to make Theurer Park a one-way street heading toward Watertown Street.
Mee said that is an option, but he wants to look at the entire area, and look at all the options. Sometimes putting in a one-way street shifts the traffic problem to other nearby street, Mee said.
Installing a traffic light at Theurer Park and Watertown Street is possible, Mee said, so it putting in wider curbs to slow drivers. Another possibility is putting in a “speed table” which is like an elongated speed bump, like the one installed on Maple Street.
The traffic study, which looked at traffic at morning and evening rush hours, and Sunday at midday, found that largest amount of traffic was going up and down Morse Street, said Michael Pompik, traffic engineer with World Tech, which is connects from Watertown Street to Galen Street.
The study also found that in one hour during the evening rush 42 cars went straight across Watertown Street from the Stop & Shop exit to Theurer Park, Pompik said.
Traffic flow was graded at several intersections in the area, with A being the best and F the worst and needing improvement. A D is something to be concerned about.
The only F was coming out of the Stop & Shop exit onto Watertown Street in the evening rush. D’s were given to the Morse Street coming onto Watertown Street in the early and late rush hours. Also, a D was given at Theurer Park for cars going onto Watertown Street in the evening rush.
District B Town Councilor Cecilia Lenk, who lives in the South End and represents the area, said the residents’ input will used by the traffic consultant to do more studies.
Pompik said he will create models of how different changes to the traffic – one way streets, a traffic light, etc. – will impact traffic in the area, and look at next steps.
Mee said he is not sure when the changes will be made, but he has made it a priority. He added that because Watertown Street is a state road, the state must approve any changes.