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Pittsfield Residents Call for 'No More Roundabouts'
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
12:36PM / Monday, September 11, 2023
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MassDOT is planning a roundabout for the complex intersection at Berkshire Medical Center.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Nearly 100 residents are up in arms about a traffic-calming measure for busy intersections.

On Tuesday, the City Council will tackle a citizens' petition that reads "To the City Council of Pittsfield- No more roundabouts."

The petition from Deborah Cooper has garnered nearly 90 signatures.

Last year, the problematic intersection of Tyler Street, Tyler Street Extension, Dalton Avenue and Woodlawn Avenue was converted into a roundabout. Data has shown that a roundabout decreases the rate of injury caused during crashes, though a slight increase in crashes has occurred in the first year.

The state Department of Transportation is planning an overhaul of the corridor near Berkshire Medical Center that includes converting North Street between Tyler Street and Stoddard Avenue into one-way southbound traffic, a roundabout, bike lanes and shared-use paths, and new sidewalks.

On the council agenda is also an order of taking by eminent domain for the intersection and signal improvements at First and North Street near BMC. Construction is planned to begin this month.

The city also looked at improving pedestrian safety on the West Street corridor after resident Shaloon Milord was struck by a car and killed crossing West Street near Dorothy Amos Park in January.

The conversation includes a proposal for a roundabout at West Street and lower West Street.

MassDOT defines roundabouts as being safer than a traditional traffic signal or all-way stop-controlled intersections because they have fewer conflict points between turning vehicles, through traffic and people crossing.

The agency says tight roundabout circles and curbed median islands promote slower driving speeds that give drivers more time to react to people in crosswalks or other vehicles and that slower vehicle speeds also result in less severe crashes if they do occur.

The state must go through a public outreach phase to solicit input from stakeholders and residents.

According to MassDOT, since Jan. 1, 2022, there have been five crashes at the Tyler Street roundabout with zero injuries. One "Front-to-Front," one "Rear-End," one "angle," one "Side-Swipe," and one "Unknown."

The annual crash rate (for the most severe consequence) of minor property damage is 3.6, with the crash rate for minor injury, major injury, and death at zero.

Data from the four years prior to the roundabout shows some years with fewer crashes but a consistent number of injuries. The annual crash rate for minor property damage was 1.66 and the crash rate for minor injury was 1.33.

  • 2018 – 2 crashes, 1 injury
  • 2019 – 5 crashes, 1 injury
  • 2020 – 2 crashes, 1 injury
  • 2021 (before roundabout) – 3 crashes, 2 injuries

"This data indicates and confirms prior studies that while roundabouts may result in a slight increase in crashes, the severity of such crashes is reduced," Commissioner of Public Services and Utilities Ricardo Morales said in an email.
"In the case of the Tyler St. roundabout, severity related to injury decreased 100 percent year over year while only resulting in a 20  percent increase of crashes (which all resulted in minor property damage and no injury)."


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