Four-way stop sign is approved for busy intersection

The Town Council approved by a 5-4 margin the installation of a four-way stop sign at the intersection of Hermon, Pauline, and Winthrop Streets for a 90-day trial period.

At the end of the trial period, the matter will be referred to the town’s ordinance and rules committee who will conduct a hearing to determine whether the stop sign should be made permanent.

Councilor-at-Large J. Larry Powers cited a study that has shown that “four-way stop signs sometimes increase accidents as opposed to decreasing accidents.”

“I certainly respect the expertise of the traffic and safety committee and their recommendation, but based on my experience, I’ve going to have to vote against it,” said Powers at the outset of a spirited discussion about the change.

Councilor James Letterie agreed with Powers’s comments. “My concern is at school time when the traffic there is pretty intense and potentially with a four-way stop sign, there could be a traffic pattern (back-up) all the way to the fire station,” said Letterie. “I do have concerns and I do not think this is a good idea.”

Councilor Jeanne Maggio said there could be confusion at the intersection about “who (which motor vehicle driver) goes first, who goes next.”

“Because there has been a continued, repeat request for this, a trial period is just that – and it’s going to be monitored and certainly after 90 days, we’ll have an absolute better picture of this,” said Maggio. “This is not permanent. That’s why the bylaw wasn’t changed. It’s just a temporary trial.”

Councilor Nick DelVento said he was not a fan of four-way stop signs and said there could be a traffic back-up at peak travel times. “Most people aren’t really sure of who really yields at a four-way intersection.”

“Whoever’s the most aggressive,” said Council President Jeffrey Turco, trying and succeeding to add a light moment to the discussion.

“The driver’s ed book would disagree with you,” said Chief Terence Delehanty, also drawing laughter.

Councilor Paul Varone said the consensus is that there needs to be some type of traffic control at the intersection. “Probably the best way, as DPW Director David Hickey said, is to raise the intersection and slow the traffic down, however, that being an expensive option, I feel a four-way stop sign is the next best thing.”

Maggio expressed concern about cars that are parked too close to the intersection, thus impeding drivers’ vision at the corners.

“We’re making this recommendation [for a four-way stop sign] with a lot of reservations,” said Chief Delehanty. “But this is a trial period.”

The five councillors voting in favor of the four-way stop sign/90-day trial period were Paul Varone, Philip Boncore, Russell Sanford, Jeanne Maggio, and Linda Calla.

Voting against the measure were Councillors Nicholas DelVento, J. Larry Powers, and James Letterie, and President Jeffrey Turco.

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