Pedestrians hit in Tyler Street crosswalk as city eyes roadway redesign

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PITTSFIELD — A man and woman escaped serious injury last week when they were struck by a pickup truck while in a Tyler Street crosswalk.

But city officials and residents agree that the incident underscores the need for traffic changes along the busy thoroughfare.

"It is a dangerous intersection," said city engineer Ricardo Morales, who is working to implement traffic safety adjustments up and down Tyler Street.

The victims were walking southbound in the crosswalk at the intersection with Pine and Cherry streets on May 6 when they were hit by a 2005 Ford pickup truck, according to Pittsfield Police Lt. Thomas Dawley. First responders took the man to Berkshire Medical Center for minor injuries, Dawley said, and the department issued the driver a citation for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

Residents took to Facebook following the crash to voice concerns over what they called a perilous intersection.

Indeed, police Lt. Gary Traversa said that intersection has seen 50 crashes over the last 10 years.

Morales said the spot is among many along Tyler Street that will get new curb extensions, or "bumpouts," once city crews begin overhauling the street.

The city plans to borrow $2 million during the coming fiscal year to implement a Tyler Street redesign, according to Mayor Linda Tyer's proposed budget. Also part of the borrowing plan is $1.2 million for construction at another troublesome intersection, where Dalton and Woodlawn avenues meet Tyler Street.

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City Planner C.J. Hoss said the Tyler Street redesign is intended to reduce conflicts between motorists and pedestrians.

"I think it would help mitigate some of the issues right now that pedestrians and vehicles face," he said Monday.

Extended curbing at the street's intersections will heighten the drivers' sense of surroundings, Morales said. That was the goal behind temporary curb extensions placed at the intersection in the fall and removed May 1 — just days before the most recent crash.

The temporary curb extensions soon will be placed at another intersection in need.

Morales said the bumpouts made the Tyler Street crossing safer while they were there. "Having bumpouts out there, that just raises the awareness for drivers and the safety for pedestrians," he said.

Morales said the curb extensions narrow the road, making the driver more conscious and drive more slowly as they move through an intersection. They also decrease the distance a pedestrian spends crossing the street and makes them more visible to passing motorists, he said.

While not everyone was excited to see the temporary curb extensions placed at the intersection in the fall, Morales said residents have come to accept that they serve a purpose and that they could soon be more prevalent along Tyler Street.

"The public has overwhelmingly accepted that that is the plan," he said.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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