Kilby Street / Route 3A Intersection To See Improvements
By Kristen Arute, Hingham Current Staff; September 26, 2020
Hingham Current News File Photos / Kristen Arute
The Traffic Committee met on Wednesday night to discuss improvements to the Route 3A intersection at Kilby Street. This is one of two dozen key intersections on the list of dangerous crossings in Hingham. In 2016, there was a fatality at the intersection when a car rolled over during a crash, and since then there have been 50 other crashes at that location. However, none were due to high rates of speed. "The issues are people cutting straight across," said Sergeant Jeffrey Kilroy of the Hingham Police Department. "Every crash we had, they’re going the speed limit."
Route 3A, also known as Chief Justice Cushing Highway, is a 97-mile, state-owned road that is broken up into two sections. The southern section that runs through Hingham extends from Dorchester to Plymouth. Because it is owned by the State, all improvements need to be made by the State. "We've talked about signage and things," said Kilroy. "However, a lot of it was contingent upon what the State had come back with with regards to our request initially to make that a safer intersection."
Members of the Committee met with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), the District V Manager David Soares and an engineering company back in February before COVID. Last week Randy Sylvester from Hingham's Department of Public Works and JR Frey from the Engineering Department had another meeting with MassDOT in which proposals for an intermediate plan were shared. "To make that a 4-way stop with lights and everything else is quite the undertaking," explained Kilroy. "However, this type of design and construction is a little bit more feasible and quick to put into play."
Frey expanded upon the reasoning behind the temporary nature of the proposal. "With the traffic changes that will be implemented through the route 3A project and up on Summer Street, there are going to be some traffic changes that will occur in that neighborhood," he said. "So if we kind of went in and did something much more extensive, we may find that there would be a significant change in travel patterns after the 3A project that could necessitate further changes, and that would seem to be a waste of resources and time."
Islands would be installed to prevent left turns onto Kilby Street from either direction and would not allow drivers to go straight across. It would also restrict access of 18-wheelers. Another element of the design relocates the crosswalk and installs sidewalk along the curvature on both the north and south sides of 3A. "That significantly reduces the exposure any pedestrian has to cross traffic," said Frey, "and significantly improves the sight lines from when you actually enter the street." Currently there is a crosswalk that is very long and can be challenging to cross, especially for school children on their way to East Elementary School.
Neighbors had some questions for the Committee. "When JR was presenting his initial data, he mentioned the impact on traffic in other neighborhoods," said Lisa Shetty. "I’ve always wondered how that gets measured." Another asked if there would be a push-button apparatus or if it would be a standard painted crosswalk. Kilroy said that they could ask for a rapid-flash beacon to be installed.
Next steps are for MassDOT to evaluate and score the project based on information submitted to them by the Town which demonstrates need and then determine whether or not a match is required. The improvements could be funded entirely by the State, but the Town could be asked to cover 20% of the cost. "We want to demonstrate that there’s consensus around the project," said Frey. "It’s a first step and it will enable us to determine if additional measures are needed to address what has become a high-crash intersection."
Members are appointed by the Board of Selectmen.
Interim Chief David Jones, Chairman
Sergeant Jeffrey Kilroy, Police Department, Representative for Interim Chief David Jones
Deputy Chief William Powers, Fire Department, Representative for Chief Murphy
Randy Sylvester, Representative for the Department of Public Works
JR Frey, Representative for the Project Engineering Department
Daniel Miller Dempsey, Term expires 6/30/2021
Matthew Person, Term expires 6/30/2022