Controversy over safety fixes at Parmenter and Pine Hill intersection

by beth on October 16, 2015

Post image for Controversy over safety fixes at Parmenter and Pine Hill intersection

Above: Engineers pointed to vegetation on Pine Hill Road blocking stop sign visibility and imparing site line views and as just two of the safety issues at the Parmenter Road intersection. (Images cropped from safety study)

The Department of Public Works responded to a neighborhood request to improve safety issues at Parmenter and Pine Hill road. But the fixes being implemented are sparking disagreement.

In June, a fiery crash propelled neighbors to ask the Town for safety improvements at the intersection. Area residents told Public Works that too many accidents had occurred and something needed to be done.

In response, the DPW commissioned a safety study. The study found “a crash rate slightly above District-wide average” and identified the likely contributing factors:

roadside obstructions, lack of clear zones, and limited sight distance

The DPW is implementing the engineering firm’s recommended fixes. Among them are a new stop sign and stop line on Pine Hill Road, clearing vegetation, and a re-graded intersection. DPW Director Karen Galligan confirmed yesterday that some residents are arguing those fixes either aren’t enough or the right ones. 

According Galligan, some residents are pushing for stop signs to be put up on Parmenter Road before or instead of the other work being done. But the DPW head says that before adding a stop sign to a throughway, process dictates fixing the other problems first. The engineers and experts believe those fixes will be enough to avoid installing stop signs on Parmenter.

Beyond that, Galligan sees adding a stop sign on Parmenter Road at the intersection as a hazard rather than improvement.

Galligan pointed out that drivers don’t expect a stop sign on a thoroughfare they’ve driven on previously. She believes that suddenly coming upon one after rounding a nearby curve is a problem. And, she claims that both the Police Department and Fire Department agree with that assessment.

The Public Works Director said that she does believe that if residents keep pushing for a stop sign it may end up on a Board of Selectmen’s meeting agenda. Selectmen are the voting authority on town stop signs.

For the official safety report with recommendations, click here.

1 Neil Rossen October 17, 2015 at 7:19 AM

The siting of speed bumps on Pine Hill and on Parmenter would strike me as a possible solution.

2 Diane R October 17, 2015 at 7:44 AM

After reading the report it seemed silly to have spent however much money on a document that basically says that drivers can’t see because of bushes and trees.

And, are we supposed to take a comment like this seriously:
“Galligan pointed out that drivers don’t expect a stop sign on a thoroughfare they’ve driven on previously”?

It seems as though another Stop Sign on the north-east corner of Pine Hill Road would make perfectly good sense. Those cars, heading west, have to slow down to go through the narrow and treacherous curves in front of Eastleigh Farm. They can see ahead when the road straightens out and would see a Stop Sign. Besides, there are hiking trails there which are part of Callahan State Park so they shouldn’t accelerate. Any cars coming up Parmenter from the east would still have the right of way.

As a resident here of this area for 17 years, (which is not as many years as my neighbors!) I am all too familiar with the road conditions and the increasing traffic and hazards of drivers using cell phones, texting, etc.

3 Townie October 17, 2015 at 2:01 PM

Actually, I would have to say Mrs. Galligan’s comments make perfect sense. Putting a stop sign on a through road won’t fix the problem, most likely make it worse referencing her exact reasons. Clearing vegetation to increase the line of sight for drivers attempting to safety merge from Pine Hill makes the most sense and should be done before other steps are taken.

Oh and your comment:
“seemed silly to have spent however much money on a document basically says that drivers can’t see because of bushes and trees.”

That’s not up to Mrs. Galligan. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices requires towns to do a engineering judgement that must justify certain criteria to qualify the placement of a stop sign. The way I read it, a stop sign on Parmenter does not meet those requirements.

It’s common sense. If you are attempting to merge on Parmenter from the lesser busier road Pine Hill, clearing the vegetation to give you the best line of sight to safety judge when it’s ok to merge is the best, cost effective solution.

4 Diane R October 18, 2015 at 5:20 PM

As always, my post has been misinterpreted. For very many years, I have had to put down my window in order to hear the cars approaching on Parmenter from the West. Of course, the vegetation should be removed first. It’s like, duh. My children have even asked me “Why do you put your window down.” “It’s because I can’t see the cars but I can hear them.” Sound like a dangerous intersection?

How about a caution light?

Just suggestions folks; no need for lectures here.

5 Leslea L November 5, 2015 at 8:31 AM

How about we do both? Clear the vegetation AND make it a 3 way stop at Pine Hill and Parmenter. Here’s what I’ve experienced: I work part time at Stearns Farm on Edmands, and so I frequent this intersection often from all three directions. Though it’s a beautiful road, I can hardly enjoy it for the drivers. Despite the narrowness and blind curves, people speed like maniacs down this road with no regard to residential driveways, bikers, pedestrians, farms or other drivers. And at night? Just forget it. We’ve already had one serious accident at this intersection. What are we waiting for? Despite what “the Manual” lists as protocol, regard for safety should come first. Clear the brush, install the stop signs and help keep us all safe. People can read. They will stop. If not, they can pay the ticket.

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