Ravine Road: Readers Speak Out, Offer Alternative Solutions
Melrose Patch commenters have spoken for and against the one-way upper Ravine Road experiment and offered alternative ideas to alleviate the traffic problems in the area.
Editor's note: Comments quoted in this article have been lightly edited for grammar and style.
Melrose Patch readers have been debating the efficacy and wisdom of the one-way upper Ravine Road experiment.
The six-month trial period began on Saturday, May 5, when the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) made upper Ravine Road one-way from Woodland Road to Fellsway East, forcing drivers on Woodland to take Pond Street to reach the Fellsway. The plan was originally announced in November last year.
The change meant to increase safety at the intersection of Ravine Road and the Fellsway East, especially during rush hour, by preventing vehicles from exiting Ravine Road onto the Fellsway East or crossing over it.
A little more than three weeks later, Mayor Rob Dolan wrote a letter to the DCR "imploring" the state to end the trial, citing "havoc" created at the Pond Street intersection and that the experiment hasn't alleviated issues at the Ravine Road and Fellsway East intersection.
"It is clear that this temporary traffic measure cannot address those (traffic) issues," Dolan wrote.
In response, Ravine Road residents Kathleen McGourthy and Craig Schwarze wrote a letter to Dolan disagreeing with his assessment, saying that the experiment has resulted in a much calmer and safer intersection at Ravine Road and Fellsway East, less evening rush hour traffic at the intersection and "much less high speed cut through traffic" on neighboring side roads.
"The implementation of the one-way traffic pattern has made this treacherous intersection much safer," they wrote.
Support For Change, Citing Safer Roads
Although many of the comments on Melrose Patch oppose the chage, some residents agreed with McGourthy and Schwarze.
Ed said that as a resident of the area near the Ravine Road and Fellsway East intersection, the experiment has been an "overwhelming" success and chastized Dolan for asking the trial to cease without offering any alternatives.
"The one-way works to solve the problem it was designed to fix," he wrote. "Why not give this experiment a chance, and let people find alternative routes into Melrose at the time of the evening commute? This was designed as a six month experiment, and the Mayor now wants to give up after only three weeks!"
Kathy said that the one-way experiment "is the best thing to EVER happen" for Ravine Road and the Fellsway, saying she has to drive down Ravine and onto the Fellsway each morning at 7:30 a.m. and back down the Fellsway onto Ravine Road around 7:30 a.m.
"I cannot begin to explain how much easier it is to drive this area now that the Ravine Road has been made a one-way," she wrote. "It is no longer a bottle-necked area. It used to be like a ridiculous free for all with cars going in every direction trying to beat the other car through the intersection. Now it is so much calmer and peaceful. I no longer worry if I will make it home safely. This one-way trial has spared many people from getting into an accident or worst, on almost a daily basis."
Judi expressed understanding about the traffic problems on Pond Street created by the change, but still expressed support for the one-way Ravine Road.
"It has made our neighborhood much safer for the over 25 children in this neighborhood," she wrote. "There has to be a way to work this out so that everyone benefits."
Opposition Cites Traffic Exacerbated Elsewhere
As of Monday morning, 212 people had voted in Melrose Patch's poll about the one-way Ravine Road experiment and 181 of those—85 percent—voted that they did not support the change.
In the comments, Robert said he also lives near the Ravine Road and Fellsway East intersection and that the experiment "failed on its very first day and does not require (six) months to yield a better result." He questioned how traffic safety was made better by forcing drivers in the right hand lane on Woodland Road, who planned to turn right on to Ravine Road, to instead turn right onto Pond Street instead.
"There is nothing safer than being in the right hand lane on a road without oncoming traffic and bearing right!" he wrote. "What about that parking lot between 5-6:30 p.m., I mean the line of cars inching ever so slowly in the left hand lane waiting to take a left onto Pond Street? At least it gives us some time to admire the pond for 20 minutes before finally gaining access to Pond Stret for a second round of crawling. Rather than continuing this failed (as it stands now) exercise, blow it up until there are true viable options with which to experiment."
Dave said that if the experiment intended to eliminate the "dangerous" cross over at Ravine Road and Fellsway East, "it has certainly done that eastbound," adding that the intersection was reconfigured years ago to remove a curved left turn lane off upper Ravine Road onto Fellsway East.
"The problem is the law of unintended consequence," he wrote. "The traffic at Lynn Fells Parkway/Pond Street is now much worse, and at Pond Street/Woodland Road it's a nightmare."
Jodi said she travels the route in question every day and can see reduced traffic heading across Fellsway East and up Ravine Road, adding "I'm sure the neighbors prefer it that way." That said, she
I travel this route everyday. I can see the reduced traffic as I head across LFP and up Ravine Rd, I'm sure the neighbors prefer it that way. However, coming home each day is indeed a nightmare.
"The intersection at Woodland Road/Pond Street is all backed up," she wrote. "Have they staggered the lights at Pond Street/Lynn Fells Parkway/West Wyoming Avenue? Doesn't seem so. I am not sure what the best solution is, but this needs more review. Another note—a friend looking at homes in Melrose opted to go elsewhere after sitting in the 5 p.m. traffic on Woodland Road/Pond Street and seeing how crazy that intersection is now."
Readers Brainstorm Alternative Solutions
Many Melrose Patch commenters—those both for and against the one-way Ravine Road trial—also offered alternative solutions to try and alleviate the traffic problems in the area, either in conjunction with the one-way Ravine Road or as a replacement solution. Here are a few of them:
- "If the situation at Pond Street has become difficult, then there might be a solution at that location rather than reverting to status quo. How about a light regulating traffic turning left onto the upper portion of Pond Street/West Wyoming, the stretch that runs parallel to the part of Ravine that is now one-way." —Ed
- "I can't recall the name of the street across from the Ravine corner/Fellsway where cars pull out and sit broadside before taking a left or accelerating through the quasi intersection. However, it is that street which I believe needs to become the 'one-way.' Place a flashing light on the Fellsway/Ravine island; Red flashing Ravine onto Fellsway, yellow Fellsway/Fellsway, and flashing red arrow Fellsway to Ravine." —Robert
- "I would much rather Stoneham (or Melrose or whoever) make Ravine Road one-way when it was done the last time instead of where they have it now off of Woodland Road ... If anything the issue is the option to go straight across. Get rid of the option of going straight and let traffic turn left and right only ... Another alternative would be to allow Ravine Road from Woodland open both directions during certain hours. Say 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday. Maybe the morning as well but my opinion on this is that the evening is 10 times worse than the morning so I'd rather start there. Would it be hard to enforce, yes probably but given enough time folks would learn and it would definitely be better than how this trial is going." —Chad
- "What if they made upper Ravine Road two way, but not allow left hand turns from the Fellsway onto Ravine Road. If you want to go up to Spot Pond you have to go to the light. This eliminates sitting traffic at that 'dangerous' intersection. At the end of Ravine when you get to the Fellsway, you can only go right. If you want to make the neighborhood of Ravine a one-way make it from the Fellsway to West Wyoming Avenue, not the other way around." —Joanne
- "My unqualified solution is to completely close Ravine in both directions and improve the Pond/Woodland intersection with signals or a roundabout." —Michael
- "The direction of the Express Lane on 93 is changed depending upon the time of day. Is changing the direction of the Ravine Road one-way likewise a reasonable modification of this experiment? I realize this may require some additional manpower (and thereby cost) to implement, but will it provide the safety Stoneham is seeking and alleviate the traffic that now concerns many in Melrose? If so, then maybe a more permanent and cost effective solution can be implemented once the experiment is completed." —Rob
- "Why not make Ravine Road a dead end at the intersection of Ravine Road and West Wyoming? That would eliminate the cut through traffic, and the upper section of Ravine Road between Fellsway East and Woodland Road could be fully re-opened with no impact to the residents on Ravine Road." —Carol
- "It seems like things would have been safer on the residential side of Ravine Road if they had raised a few speed bumps and limited street parking to just one side of the street. The speed bumps worked for Dell Ave." —Jeff
- "How about widening Pond Street between Woodland Road and LFP so that there are two lanes coming into Melrose, and add a left turn signal at the light? It seems to me that the back-up comes from people who need to turn left at that light, and there is no room for the people who want to go straight onto Wyoming or right onto LFP to get by till they get very close to the light." —Sandra
- "I don't know what the posted limits are on Ravine, Woodland, Wyoming, Lynn Fells and Pond, but I suspect that if the Melrose, Stoneham and State Police spent a little more time passing out tickets folks would drive a lot more slowly, and many of the concerns would be alleviated." —Greg
- "Make Lower Ravine Road a Do Not Enter between 5 and 7 p.m. and station a police officer there for a few weeks to enforce it. Commuters got used to the Do Not Enter in Phillips Road and will get used to this one in time. Add some speed bumps on Lower Ravine Road to slow commuters down in both directions and keep neighborhood children safe. And yes, this will funnel some traffic to other side streets, which I imagine will feel unfair to neighbors on those streets, but none of those side streets are an obvious route from Upper Ravine Road to Wyoming Ave., so you're not going to see the same sort of traffic you saw on Lower Ravine Road." —Chris