Northfield seeks flashing crosswalk signs on Main Street from MassDOT

  • Crosswalk signs along Main Street, which is also Routes 10 and 63, in Northfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Pedestrians cross at a crosswalk on Main Street in Northfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/28/2020 1:09:34 PM

NORTHFIELD — Selectboard members have signed and sent a letter requesting that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) consider installing flashing pedestrian crossing signs on Main Street.

The letter was sent to MassDOT Director Peter Cavicchi, state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, and state Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, requesting their support in improving the visibility of crosswalks on Main Street, which is also state highway Routes 10 and 63. The letter expresses concerns over the recent removal of crosswalk signs by MassDOT employees, which were later recovered by the Northfield Police Department.

“After several years of having our signs removed from crosswalks at critical locations on Route 10 in Northfield, and after great outcry from our residents at their continued removal, our Police Department put in an application with your department to approve the placement of these signs,” the letter reads.

Earlier this month, Police Chief Robert Leighton said he applied for a new permit for the crosswalk signs, to be sure the town was covered, but the Police Department had actually applied for and received a permit in 2011, allowing for the signs on Main Street. Leighton said the MassDOT workers did not seem to be aware of the 2011 permit.

“We hope you will take steps to ensure that future employees for the district are familiar with this approval so that we can avoid this situation from occurring again,” the letter reads.

The letter goes on to address the traffic that travels through the center of town along Routes 10 and 63. Main Street contains many residences and businesses, as well as almost all of the town’s office and public safety buildings, the Northfield Elementary School and the Dickinson Memorial Library.

According to the letter, unlike many state highways, Routes 10 and 63 in Northfield have many pedestrian crossings, and they have a long history of pedestrian concerns, “as evidenced by the Dec. 2, 2011 letter approving the placement of pedestrian crossing signs.” The letter also mentions concerns over the speed limit of the roads, stating that the 35 to 40 mph limit is “quite fast for such a heavily populated area.”

Town Administrator Andrea Llamas said, as stated in the letter, that continuing concern about traffic is further evidenced by the town’s recently approved Complete Streets Prioritization Plan, which lists “Main Street Pedestrian Crossing Safety” as one of the first priority projects. The plan was approved by MassDOT this spring.

While the approval allowed the town to apply for a grant through MassDOT’s Complete Streets Funding Program, the request could not include improvements to the Main Street crosswalks because they are under MassDOT jurisdiction, Llamas said. The letter asks MassDOT to consider the installation of flashing pedestrian crossing warning signs on Main Street at the intersections with Maple Street and Moody Street.

Selectboard member Barbara “Bee” Jacque said many residents who walk on Main Street share a desire for crosswalks that are more visible.

“I think this is perfect,” Jacque said Monday. “It’s a better use of their time, rather than collecting signs that periodically get hit anyway. ... Fix those crosswalks.”

Zack DeLuca can be reached at or 413-930-4579.


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