Ravine Road will become a one-way from its intersection with the Fellsway East to Woodland Road for at least a trial period of about six months and maybe permanently, according to Stoneham Town Administrator David Ragucci.
Ragucci told Stoneham and neighboring Melrose residents that the trial period will go into effect in the next two to three weeks and last until spring, when the issue will be revisited.
“If it doesn’t work, we’ll come back to the drawing board,” he said at Tuesday night’s informational meeting at Stoneham Town Hall.
The change is meant to increase safety at the notoriously-dangerous 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 (“Do Not Enter” signs for Ravine Road will go up at its intersection with Woodland Road).
Both Sides On Board
The Ravine Road issue has been a contentious one between the town of Stoneham and city of Melrose for a number of years, with the two sides even entering legal negotiations over it in 2008. However, on Tuesday, Melrose Ward 3 Alderman Frank Wright said he supports the current plan, as did members of the Stoneham Board of Selectmen.
“I think it could work,” Wright said.
He said his concerns with past plans were that other side streets, such as Felicia Road and Glen Street, would’ve turned into cut-throughs. He said under the current plan the light at Pond Street and the Fellsway East may need to be lengthened for vehicles traveling east on Pond Street, so that traffic doesn’t back up there due to the change. He also called the Ravine Road and the Fellsway East intersection “the wild west” at rush hour.
The short, residential stretch of Ravine Road, from the Fellsway East to West Wyoming Avenue, is split between Stoneham and Melrose. The stretch in question is actually overseen by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, which has also backed the current plan.
About 20 residents from the area in question attended Tuesday’s meeting and most said that they would’ve liked to have seen traffic studies done ahead of time to make sure that no other intersections or roadways will be adversely affected by the change.
One resident, who called the intersection “atrociously unsafe,” said the intersection needs to be completely realigned to become safer. He proposed having a barrier put up to block the eastbound lane of Ravine Road (which technically won’t have vehicles on it) to force vehicles to slow down and not cut the corner when taking a left from the Fellsway East onto the now one-way stretch of Ravine Road.
Ragucci said he liked the barrier idea, but ultimately that decision is in the state’s hands. He also said Stoneham, Melrose or the state don’t have enough money to realign the intersection.
Residents also expressed concerns that the situation will not be monitored with data from now until the spring. Officials said they’ll primarily rely on accident statistics and word of mouth to see if it’s working.
“As elected officials, we’ll hear from people if it’s not working,” Wright said.
“We can only ask that you continue to communicate with your elected officials,” he said.
Stoneham Police Chief Richard Bongiorno also said he supports the current plan at Tuesday’s meeting.
State Rep. Jason Lewis was also on hand and said that he has been pushing the state to make that area safer for motorists and residents.