City Pledges to Do a Better Job at Traffic Management

Several traffic measures proposed by City Manager Thomas Ambrosino highlighted an otherwise speedy and low-key City Council Meeting Monday night.

In response to a recent Council request concerning traffic management during construction, Ambrosino said the City will create a working group focusing on the issues with those construction projects.

“There is no denying that there is a lot of construction ongoing in the City right now, including major projects on some of our busiest arteries — such as Everett Avenue, Essex Street, Spruce Street, Marginal Street, Williams Street, and Beacham Street,” the City Manager stated.

The fact that the Council made a motion requesting a planning committee to look at ways to facilitate traffic management during the rash of construction suggests the city hasn’t been entirely successful in coordinating the traffic impacts of the many projects, Ambrosino continued.

“After consulting with our Department of Public Works and Department of Planning and Development, I believe that, moving forward, we can do a better job with coordination and, more importantly, communication with our residents about the traffic impacts of these projects,” Ambrosino stated.

At a recent public hearing on the construction of a new commuter rail station, the coordination of traffic impacts between that and other large-scale projects was a concern raised by several residents.

The new special working group will focus on monitoring and coordinating the construction projects in the city through regularly scheduled weekly meetings.

The group will include representatives from public works, planning, police, and the city’s new 311 office. The goal, Ambrosino said, will be to review all open construction permits in Chelsea, focusing on road closures and potential traffic impact on residents.

“This weekly meeting will be an opportunity for leaders of our departments to challenge traffic plans and to push contractors to provide alternatives that will benefit our residents,” Ambrosino stated. 

One of the goals of the new group is to publish a weekly report on the City website and social media accounts that identifies traffic issues for the coming week.

But, Ambrosino cautioned, some of the major projects that have the most significant impact on Chelsea roadways are controlled by autonomous entities, such as MassDOT and Eversource, over which the city has limited control.

“Nonetheless, the City will push these entities and advocate for our residents as much as possible to minimize inconvenience,” he said.

•In other traffic-related news, Ambrosino said he approved an appropriation from Free Cash for a comprehensive traffic study of Park Square. He said the city has finalized a $130,000 contract with the engineering group TEC to perform the study. The Council approved the appropriation from free cash for the study in June.

Park Square, which includes the Park Street, Pearl Street, Cross Street, and Congress Avenue intersection, is a major area of concern.

“The unsignalized area, a major school walking route, is both congested and dangerous,” Ambrosino stated. “The goal of the study is to identify potential solutions to improve traffic flow and safety.”

•In other business, the Council approved appointments to the city’s new Disability Commission. Those appointments include Karen Zelaya, Barbara Rivera, Alexander J. Floyd-Vargas, Maureen Cawley, Marianne Winship, Robert Bourque, and Fidel Maltez.

•Councillors approved an amendment to the residential yard sale ordinance requiring residents to obtain a yard sale license through the Licensing Commission.

The yard sale ordinance allows for any resident to hold up to five yard sales per year, as long as they are not held on consecutive weeks. But the ordinance was difficult to enforce as it was written, Ambrosino said.

“The ordinance has no provision for requiring any type of permit from, or notice to, the Licensing Commission for such yard sales,” he stated. “Accordingly, in the absence of required notice or permits, it is impossible for the City to determine if someone is operating such sales on consecutive weeks or exceeding the five yard sale limit.”

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