Despite residents' chagrin, Hingham officials won’t be installing a traffic light at the intersection of Cushing, Main and Pleasant streets, after conducting further analysis on the roads.
In a report presented to selectmen last week, Hingham’s Traffic Committee found that even though the intersection is busy and difficult to turn out of, the amount of accidents there currently doesn’t justify the money for a traffic light.
In addition, of the 21 accidents that occurred from June 2005 to June 2010, only two reported personal injury.
The analysis will be brought to the April 25 Town Meeting, a follow up from a 2010 Town Meeting that requested $150,000 for the purpose of installing a traffic control signal at the intersection. An amendment from the floor last year recommended further study by the Traffic Committee, with a report to be rendered for this year's Town Meeting.
Despite residents' claims that the intersection was “the most accident prone, unregulated intersection in town,” the committee found otherwise.
“What we’ve concluded was that what drove this originally was not supported by the facts,” said Paul Healey, the chair of the Traffic Committee. “For the cost involved in installing a traffic control signal, it simply isn’t warranted ... Maybe down the road the traffic light may be warranted for safety reasons, but not this year.”
This isn’t the first time residents have attempted to install a traffic signal at the intersection. A study conducted in 2004 looked at the same issues and also came up short.
According to the latest report, the volume of traffic had increased slightly from a report conducted of the intersection in 1995, but the number of accidents remained the same.
In addition, the intersection did not prove to be the most accident-prone when reviewed within Hingham Police Department records from 1999-2009. According to reports, 12 other intersections in town have a higher accident rate.
Any changes to the intersection would also alter the historical character of the area, a concept that weighed heavily in the committee’s decision to leave the intersection as is.
Wanting to be thorough, officials said, the Traffic Committee not only conducted its own analysis, but hired outside help.
Coler & Colantonio, the firm hired to study the intersection for the reevaluation of Route 228 in both 1995 and 2003, were hired with $10,000 of Planning Board funds to study the intersection this time.
After reviewing accident figures, wait time for cars, and potential mitigation, the firm also came to the same conclusion as the committee, Healey said: a light was simply not warranted.
The chairman of the selectmen, Bruce Rabuffo, approved of the analysis, despite the somewhat surprising outcome.
“We have a process, and we have a number of intersections that we’re monitoring. And it’s important that we continue to do so, but the recommendation of the Traffic Committee, we would endorse it, and that is the report we expect to bring back to the town,” he said.
The cost estimate for the project also had committee members backing off from something they didn’t feel was a necessity. According to Coler & Colantonio, a traffic control signal would cost no less than $370,000.
Other mitigation plans, including a modern roundabout and an elongated roundabout – one with a bigger design – didn’t come in much cheaper. A modern roundabout would cost an estimated $330,000 to $412,500, with an elongated roundabout costing upwards of $430,000 to $537,000.
Although it is possible that any of these options could be taken on in future years, with the economic climate of the town, Selectmen John Riley doubted it.
“The reality of doing something in the next five years is not that great,” he said.
Hingham officials plan to present the data at Town Meeting, but stressed that the intersection would play a larger role in the overall road evaluation of the town.
“Planning with respect to this intersection…would be best undertaken by the Hingham Planning Board on an ongoing basis as it considers how best to analyze the growth of South Hingham generally and its impact on the residential areas within this area in particular,” the report says.