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Newton parents call for safety measures after car hits Day Middle School student

Posted by Sarah Thomas  January 31, 2011 06:00 PM

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After a student was struck by a car on his way to Day Middle School Monday morning, some Newton parents are demanding more safety measures at an intersection they say is too dangerous for children.

The boy was hit at the intersection of Linwood Avenue and Crafts Street, but escaped serious injury, said Newton superintendent David Fleishman.

The incident is the third accident at the intersection this year. In November, two Day Middle School students were injured on their way to school when they were hit by cars in separate accidents.

"It has always been my view (and that of many other parents in this neighborhood) that a true set of traffic lights should be installed here," said Sebastian DiFelice, a Nevada Street resident who has a daughter at Day, in a letter to mayor Setti Warren. "At the very least, a crossing guard needs to be stationed there during the times of day that young children are crossing to get to school or coming home."

Warren said in an interview that new signs warning drivers to watch out for children would be installed tomorrow, and that there would be an increased police presence at the intersection.

"At this stage, we're considering all options," Warren said. "The state has provisions on what's allowed to be done on the road, but we are monitoring the situation closely."

Warren also said that the boy who was struck today has been released from the hospital.

Day's principal, Brian Turner, said in an e-mail to parents that the student was crossing Linwood at 7:45 a.m. when he was struck by a car traveling southeast on Crafts. The student was not in a marked crosswalk, and the driver was partially blinded by sunlight, Turner said.

Safety measures at the intersection currently include a blinking light and posted speed limits, Fleishman said.

Local mother Margaret Albright said the city should do more.

‘‘I can see Crafts Street from my dining room window, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched cars being pulled out of the ditch after getting into accidents where they were driving too fast," Albright said. "I have a friend whose brother was killed at that intersection as a young boy. It’s dangerous."

Albright has a son at Day who walks to school via Albermarle Park. Albright said she is fearful whenever her son crosses Crafts to visit friends.

"The other problem is, it’s not just students here. There’s lots of pedestrian traffic because of the park, the pool, the path along the Charles River," Albright said. "I’m not a traffic engineer, so I don’t know what the solution is. But I can teach my children the right way to cross the road, but I can’t keep them safe from other people’s errors."
In an interview, DiFelice agreed.

"I keep sending e-mails to the mayor and talking to my aldermen about this — we need either a proper street light or a crossing guard," DiFelice said. "We teach our kids to press the button and wait for the crossing lights, but it doesn’t work if the light comes on and the cars just don’t give a damn."

Police chief Matthew Cummings said that he and Warren would be requesting the Traffic Council to take up the matter of the road at a future meeting.

"The sad thing is, this road has always been bad, but it's not even in our top 10 of dangerous intersections," Cummings said.

Cummings also said that the idea of assigning a crossing guard to the intersection was complicated.

"We have trouble keeping the crossing guard jobs filled," Cummings said. "In times when we have better budgets we could have the guards also work in school cafeterias, but that hasn't been the case for a while now. If I had the manpower, I would absolutely do it, but we never have as many crossing guards as we want."

Last year, Warren established the Transportation Advisory Committee to provide guidance to city planners on formulating traffic policy. The chair of the committee is Stephanie Pollack, associate director at the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University.

"We don’t make recommendations on specific intersections, but one of our main priorities is safety," Pollack said. "We have a subcommittee specifically dedicated to looking at the needs of young children and senior citizens who commute by walking, as they are some of our most vulnerable citizens."

Pollack said the subcommittee would be reporting on its findings in February.
Transportation issues at specific locations are handled by the city’s Traffic Council, which meets every month. City Transportation Planner David Koses said that the intersection had not been discussed in traffic council recently.

Ben Hammer, regional director for Safe Routes to School, said that all of Newton’s elementary schools are involved with the program, but none of the middle schools are. Safe Routes to School provides tools for schools to ensure safer commutes for students.

Sarah Thomas can be reached at

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