Recent accidents highlight concerns over tricky Stockbridge intersection

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STOCKBRIDGE — As the town gears up to commission a $15,000 traffic safety study for Main Street pedestrian crosswalks and the notorious four-way intersection at the Red Lion Inn, two recent accidents have demonstrated that it's high time to consider solutions.

On Feb. 27, a two-vehicle collision at the confusing convergence of Route 102, Route 7 and Pine Street sent one driver to Berkshire Medical Center with unspecified but non-life-threatening injuries, according to Police Chief Darrell Fennelly.

His accident report states that at 7:45 a.m., a vehicle heading eastbound on Main Street apparently failed to observe a stop sign at the intersection and struck an SUV crossing southbound from Pine Street to Route 7 (South Street).

Police issued a citation to the operator of a 2013 Honda sedan, Cortnee Lee Clemons, 20, of Pittsfield, for failure to yield the right of way. Her vehicle was towed from the scene and she was transported by ambulance to the hospital. The driver of the 2012 GMC SUV that was hit, Holly Seagrave, 70, of Ellington, Conn., was uninjured.

On Feb. 22, three vehicles were involved in an early-afternoon accident after the driver of a 2007 Ford van, David Zahn, 62, of Sheffield, crashed into a 2013 GMC pickup driven by Steven Frechette, 47, of Pittsfield. Zahn was cited for failing to yield to a vehicle in the four-way intersection as he proceeded eastbound on Main Street, the police chief stated, although he told police he had observed the stop sign.

Frechette told police a trailer truck in an adjacent lane on the South Street side of the intersection blocked his line of sight as it made s wide turn eastward on Main Street toward Lee. As a result, Frechette stopped in the intersection, where he was hit by Zahn's van.

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The physical impact of the 12:50 p.m. accident was intense, the police chief pointed out, although there were no injuries.

After Zahn's van hit the pickup, it careened onto the sidewalk in front of St. Paul's Episcopal Church on the northeast corner of the intersection. The van took down a National Grid utility pole and a town-owned garbage receptacle. It also hit a parked vehicle on Main Street, unoccupied at the time.

The incident offered "more evidence of the problem" at the intersection, Fennelly commented. "At the height of summer, we might have had a much more tragic result" because pedestrians might well have been involved, he said.

"Hopefully, the traffic study will give us some direction," the chief added. At a special town meeting in January, he pointed out that since 2008, when he joined the police department, there have been 78 crashes at the intersection, resulting in 13 injuries, including one that was serious and incapacitating, and nine hospital transports. The most recent mishaps were the first two of this year.

Last year, there were 10 accidents there, which Fennelly has blamed in part on "aggressive, distracted driving" and confusion by motorists unfamiliar with the intersection's three-way stop signs.

Clarence Fanto can be contacted at cfanto@yahoo.com or 413-637-2551.


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