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Springfield City Councilors optimistic that traffic study will improve pedestrian safety in front of Central Library

exterior of the Springfield Central Library
Paul Tuthill
To get to the Central Library from a parking lot on the other side of State Street, people frequently cross at mid-block rather than at a signalized crosswalk just west of the library.

Jaywalkers and speeding cars a concern

Officials in Springfield, Massachusetts are looking at ways to improve pedestrian safety.

At several locations with a history of fatalities, data is being collected on vehicular traffic, pedestrian and bicycle usage, lighting, traffic signal functioning, and crash histories, said Springfield DPW Director Chris Cignoli.

“We’re actually working on four major traffic studies for pedestrian crossings and signalizations," Cignoli said.

The studies are taking place at the intersections of Page Boulevard and Brookdale Drive, Page Blvd. and Bircham Street, a section of Plainfield Street and the State Street corridor outside the Central Library.

Speaking at a meeting of the City Council’s Maintenance and Development Committee, Cignoli said he expects to receive a preliminary report on the State Street study by the end of November. The consultant hired to collect the data will also do an analysis with recommendations for safety improvements.

There have been calls for years for measures to slow down cars and deter jaywalking on State Street – a four-lane thoroughfare with a median. To get to the library from a parking lot, people frequently cross the street at mid-block rather than at the Maple and Chestnut Streets intersection where there is a crosswalk with traffic signals.

A child was struck by a car and killed in front of the library in 2014.

City Councilors cheered the announcement about the traffic study. Kateri Walsh, the chair of the committee, said she is optimistic a solution will be found.

“I think we’ve gotten good news, it has been a very positive meeting,” Walsh said.

Councilor Jesse Lederman called the traffic study on the State Street corridor “significant and welcome news.”

Plans to develop two new housing complexes along State Street add urgency to improving pedestrian safety, said Betsy Johnson, president of the Armory Quadrangle Civic Association.

“We want to think even more totally out-of-the-box,” Johnson said. She questioned if it would be possible to reduce the number of traffic lanes.

“Can it be more pedestrian oriented?” she asked.

The city is using $25,000 in state funds for the traffic analysis.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.