Looking to make Grove Street a slow street

Grove Street seemingly was made for speed, but residents in the area and City officials are hoping to use the long, straight street as a model citywide for putting the brakes on fast moving vehicles.

City Manager Jay Ash and members of the Community Development office recently secured a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to investigate and institute traffic calming measures on Grove Street. The $250,000 grant was part of a larger $1 million award from the state, which was announced in July.

Grove Street has long carried a good amount of traffic, and traffic that likes to move fast past the homes and children playing in the neighborhood.

It is a cut-through street, a well-known shortcut for those trying to get to City Hall or Broadway without waiting on the main thoroughfares.

It’s also very long and very straight – a perfect situation to invite motorists to put the pedal to the metal.

City officials said that residents have voiced concerns over the years about these conditions, and no more so than over the last few years.

While new stop signs have broken up traffic, they haven’t slowed it down.

“There was a call from residents in that area because they felt traffic is moving too quickly down there,” said John DePriest of the Community Development office. “It’s a long street that’s kind of a straightaway and there are a lot of kids who play there too. It could end up being a dangerous situation.”

DePriest said there are a number of streets in the same predicament as Grove Street in Chelsea. Many of those long, straight cut-through streets have called for help as well. Therefore, he said that the Grove Street traffic calming project would most likely be a model for the rest of the city, once complete.

He said they would be putting together a committee of public safety officials, residents and business owners to talk over the best measures to use in getting traffic “calmed” down.

Some of the suggestions include raised walkways, bumped out curbs and various other measures.

Traffic calming, while popular with residents, isn’t without controversy.

Public safety officials are often wary of altering the streetscape.

Bumped out curbs are difficult for snow plow drivers and for fire engines.

Meanwhile, raised walkways present numerous problems for drivers, fire engines and for police personnel.

All of those issues, City leaders said, would be discussed and a compromise solution would be implemented. And from there, those suggestions could migrate to the rest of the city.

“These suggestions could apply to all other streets with similar problems as we develop them – if they do indeed need traffic calming measures,” said DePriest. “Not all streets do.”

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