Wednesday September 19, 2012

LEE -- The Board of Selectmen has endorsed a Main Street area improvement plan that will increase parking, create a more passenger-friendly bus stop and enhance crosswalk safety along the downtown.

On Tuesday night, the board approved a Lee Traffic Com mission recommendation to convert the current bus stop across from Town Hall into four parking spaces. The bus stop will be moved, split among two locations: One for the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority and a second for commercial carriers, including the Peter Pan Bus Lines.

The plan also calls for relocating one parking space to improve safety at the troublesome crosswalk in front of the Salmon Run Fish House.

Town officials anticipate about two weeks to reconfigure the parking and relocate the bus stop.

"We have worked closely with the BRTA, Peter Pan and residents, so we're ready to implement this on Oct. 1," said Lee Town Administrator Robert Nason.

The new parking will front the branch office of Greylock Federal Credit Union and the windows and doors showrooms for Dresser-Hull Lumber and Building Supply Co. in the heart of the Main Street shopping district.

"It's a win-win for merchants and the traffic flow by moving the bus stop," said Traffic Commission Chairman Jerry LePrevost.

LePrevost noted relocating one of the BRTA bus stops will allow senior citizens better access to the public transportation.

Under the revised Main Street parking, the BRTA would have a new southbound stop at 45 Railroad St., across from the Hyde Place elderly housing complex. The former senior center entrance at the Airoldi Building would serve as a shelter for waiting passengers. The "B" buses will continue to use the park next to Town Hall as their northbound stop.

As for Peter Pan and other commercial bus lines, passenger pickup and discharge would take place at the sheltered bus stop located at O'Connell's Convenience Plus, 241 Main St., next to Lee Hardware.

"It will take a couple of trips for people to get acclimated to the new bus stops," LePrevost said.

Meanwhile, town officials believe removing the parking space adjacent to the crosswalk fronting Salmon Run will increase pedestrian safety in the walkway. The parking spot will be replicated in front of the nearby Lee Library, replacing the former Main Street Trolley stop.

Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis, a Traffic Commission member, had said eliminating the space would increase visibility for drivers approaching the crosswalk in the westbound lane.

Nearly four years ago, a Lee businessman, Doug Wilcox, was seriously injured when he was struck by a car while using the crosswalk at night. Since the Dec. 20, 2008, incident, Lee has had three other serious car-pedestrian accidents involving downtown area crosswalks. The latest one in May involved a Canadian motorist striking two Russian tourists crossing Hous atonic Street.

Lee police say they continually monitor safety at all town crosswalks.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.