PITTSFIELD -- A request for safety improvements around a section of Center Street that was the scene of two recent pedestrian fatalities is making its way through city government.
The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a motion to refer to the Traffic Commission and Commissioner of Public Utilities Bruce Collingwood a request for action by Ward 6 Councilor John Krol.
Krol said he hopes for both short-term improvements and longer-term infrastructure changes in the area of Center Street between the Big Y parking lot and the Columbus Avenue intersection.
"I think we can get things accomplished here," said Krol, whose ward includes the area where the fatal accidents occurred on Jan. 17 and Feb. 1.
One involved a man struck while crossing Center Street near a railroad overpass bridge, and the other an elderly man on a mobility scooter who was struck while riding along a side of Center Street lacking a sidewalk.
Immediately after the first fatal accident, Krol said he spoke with city Highway Superintendent Peter Bruneau and learned additional signage near a crosswalk was being considered, along with re-activation of lighting on the railroad overpass that apparently hasn't been lighted for years.
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell said Tuesday he and Council President Melissa Mazzeo visited the area after the first accident and asked City Engineer Matt Billetter to inspect the site. The possibility of a new sidewalk in the area also is being considered, Connell said.
Collingwood was out of the office Wednesday, but Mary McGinnis, the city's director of administrative services, said she was told by the commissioner that the lights on the rail overpass will be re-activated. The lights are attached to abutments and underneath the overpass.
In the Feb. 1 accident, police said Jack E. Joyner, 91, was struck and killed that morning by a car while riding on a mobility scooter along Center Street near the rail overpass. There is no sidewalk on the side of the street where Joyner was traveling.
On Jan. 17, Michael J. Rathbun, 30, was attempting to cross Center Street near the overpass at night when he was struck and killed by an SUV traveling southbound.
Frederick Lantz, a spokes-
man for the Berkshire District Attorney's office, said a police investigation report into the Jan. 17 accident has not yet been received by the office, which will review the findings. The status of any investigation into the Feb. 1 incident was unclear.
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