Two-way Pinner Street returns

Published 8:47 pm Friday, July 10, 2015

Two-way traffic was restored on part of Pinner Street on Friday. A portion of the downtown residential street had been one-way since 2008.

Two-way traffic was restored on part of Pinner Street on Friday. A portion of the downtown residential street had been one-way since 2008.

The city’s Traffic Engineering Department has recommended re-establishing two-way traffic in the 200 block of Pinner Street, and the change has been made, but residents who live on the street are upset and say they weren’t asked for their input.

“We were happy,” said John Faircloth, president of the Olde Towne Civic League. “The two-way didn’t work in the past. The one-way is working.”

In the fall of 2008, after making the street one-way temporarily to study it, the city implemented one-way traffic between Bank Street and Finney Avenue and installed raised and landscaped “chicanes” — islands by the side of the road — to discourage speeding. Residents had said people were using their road as a cut-through and making it dangerous.

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“It was quite congested,” Faircloth said. “I mean big-time.”

In May of this year, the city needed to conduct repairs on the street because of failing stormwater structures, according to a traffic engineering report. To do so, they temporarily re-established two-way traffic to allow access to all of the homes on the block, which involved removing some of the chicanes.

“The city began to receive calls thanking us for removing the chicane,” city spokeswoman Diana Klink wrote in an emailed response to questions about the project. “One citizen gave Eric (Nielsen, the public works director) a hand written note thanking him for restoring two-way traffic, thinking that was the intent. Based on that feedback, we revisited the issue, which generated the Traffic Engineer’s recommendation.”

Complaints from citizens since 2008 generally involved circulation in the downtown area and congestion on nearby streets and intersections, according to the report. It was also a challenge to detour traffic around downtown for accidents, construction or special events, the report states.

The number of crashes on the block decreased, but the severity increased, according to the report. One moped rider died in December 2013 after hitting one of the chicanes, while there had been no fatalities before the changes.

There is also evidence that more vehicles hit the raised curbs at low speeds than those reported to Suffolk Police, according to the report. Faircloth and another civic league representative, Bob Wallace, confirmed that. Faircloth said most of those who hit the chicanes were speeding, drunk or using their phones.

The Traffic Engineering report recommends re-establishing two-way traffic but allowing on-street parking only on one side at a time. It would alternate sides along the block in an effort to keep speeds low.

Other considerations might include additional signage and creation of a high-fine speed zone to discourage speeders, according to the report.

Faircloth said he and other residents of Pinner Street were not consulted about their feelings. Their city council representative, Don Goldberg, also wasn’t aware of the study.

“I really wasn’t notified what they were doing,” Goldberg said, adding he believed the project had “slowed down” since residents started complaining.

“Nothing has moved ahead right now to my knowledge other than fixing some of the holes out there,” he said on Thursday, adding safety is his top concern.

But about 24 hours after that statement, the city sent out a press release saying two-way traffic had already been restored.

“I’m real concerned with safety, but if we can make sure we slow that traffic down and put some heavy fines out there if people do speed, I think that will make it a long way in making it a safe transit area for people to get through,” Goldberg said.