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Ravine Road Debate Continues on Melrose Patch

Mayor Rob Dolan asks the state to cease the one-way Ravine Road trial period, citing "havoc" at the Pond Street intersection and a lack of impact on issues at the Ravine Road and Fellsway East intersection.

Editor's note: The headline for this article was update on Thursday, June 7 at 10 p.m. to reflect the ongoing discussion in the comments below.

Also, Ravine Road residents Kathleen McGourthy and Craig Schwarze wrote a of the DCR's one-way Ravine Road trial.

A copy of this letter from Dolan to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation was provided to Melrose Patch by the Mayor's Office.

May 29, 2012

Michael D. Misslin
Acting Chief Engineer
Engineering Division
251 Causeway Street, Suite 600
Boston, MA 02114

Re: Temporary Traffic Measures (Ravine Road - Melrose/Stoneham)

Dear Mr. Misslin:

I am writing on behalf of the many residents of Melrose who have contacted my office over the past few weeks expressing their grave concerns about the efforts by DCR to implement a one-way traffic pattern, on a trial basis, along Ravine Road between Woodland Road and Fellsway East. Unfortunately, this reconfigured traffic pattern is wreaking havoc for residents and commuters seeking to travel through the intersection at Pond Street, and does not appear to be alleviating any of the issues where Ravine Road intersects with Fellsway East.

By this letter, I am imploring the DCR to cease the trial period at this time. Although Melrose has sought to work cooperatively to explore long-term traffic options for this corridor of the Fellsway, it is clear that this temporary traffic measure cannot address those issues.

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Very truly yours,
Robert J. Dolan

CC: Aldermen Frank Wright
      Senator Katherine Clark
      Representative Paul Brodeur
      David Ragucci, Stoneham Town Administrator

Val May 31, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Chad, Thanks for pointing out the map. Unfortunately this map just points to the intersection of Ravine and Woodland. I am suggesting that a map highlighting which section of Ravine is closed would be more useful. I know, because I know the area well, but maybe others could use a better map...thank you, though!
Daniel DeMaina (Editor) May 31, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Val, there isn't a section of Ravine Road that is closed. There is a section, the upper section, that the DCR has made one-way. I quickly created this Google map to highlight the various intersections and roadways being discussed: https://www.google.com/maps/ms?msid=213465621371311015983.0004c15ca6f86f9cc389a&msa=0&ll=42.455824,-71.082015&spn=0.013346,0.017703 Hope that's helpful.
Val June 01, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Thanks so much for the map. My mistake saying closed instead of one-way.
Daniel DeMaina (Editor) June 01, 2012 at 12:28 AM
No problem! Just trying to be clear about what's happening.
Mark June 01, 2012 at 01:28 AM
With the pumping project due to start on June 4th, I cannot wait to see how worse the traffic gets. This change is an absolute farce and was a complete failure since Day 1. There was never an issue to start with aside from Stonehams petty jealousies. Woodland road is one of my favorite local roads to travel on, and to take that from me once a day, is a true crime. I have a solution. Make all the DCR/Stoneham decision makers travel home @ 5:30 with a full bladder. They'll open that road in an hour! Mark
Michael June 01, 2012 at 05:40 PM
I'm not sure why everyone is complaining about tha lack of action from Melrose and Stoneham. Woodland, Ravine and LFP are owned by DCR. This agency should hire a qualified traffic engineering firm to do a study and move ahead with a real solution, rather than these back-of-an-envelope "experiments". My unqualified solution is to completely close Ravine in both directions and improve the Pond/Woodland intersection with signals or a roundabout.
Dave Gray June 01, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Your solution would cause all traffic from all directions to have to pass through the LFP and Wyoming/Pond intersection. That's a non-starter. You're right about "back-of-an-envelope" shots in the dark, though. Sometimes the best solution is to do absolutely nothing.
patricia wright June 02, 2012 at 10:32 AM
Where's the original PDF Dan? Not that I don't belive you but its rather hard to believe anything in this City. And since its more than possible and plausable that Dolan would spell something wrong or use the wrong word I'd like to see it for myself. Regards Patty
Rob Durant June 02, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Here's a suggestion: 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.
Daniel DeMaina (Editor) June 02, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Patty, the PDF is available underneath the photo of the Ravine Road signs at the top of this article. You'll see PHOTOS (1) and beneath that PDFS (1). Click on the image of the PDF to open it up—you can zoom in using the magnifying glass tools at the bottom of the PDF viewer, once it's open.
Chris June 03, 2012 at 12:25 PM
This change has been a disaster and needs to end ASAP. This has created a huge backup for cars making the left turn and I routinely see frustrated drivers cutting people off. Please end this experiment now.
Judi June 04, 2012 at 03:06 PM
I understand what this change has done to people on Pond, however, it has made our neighborhood much safer for the over 25 children in this neighborhood. There has to be a way to work this out so that everyone benefits.
Carol June 04, 2012 at 09:18 PM
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. This would help mitigate the dangerous conditions developing elsewhere due to the lane closing.
Jeff June 04, 2012 at 09:19 PM
I'm glad Mayor Dolan has spoken against this. I have to drive through this every day on my commute and it's an absolute nightmare. I sometimes end up driving miles out of my way through other neighborhoods just to avoid it. It's made Pond St/Woodland road much more dangerous by the Pond St intersection during rush hour. It's only a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured there. Also, the orange traffic barrels at the Woodland/Ravine intersection are not only a huge eyesore, but they're so distracting it's hard to see incoming traffic from around the bend when trying to merge onto or cross Woodland. Who thought this was a good idea? What kind of useful traffic study could they possibly accomplish during the summer where there is going to be road construction that normally is not present? And for the very few folks who do live in the Ravine road area, I'm happy that you're happy, but if you didn't like the traffic then why on Earth did you buy a house there? 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.
Daniel DeMaina (Editor) June 04, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Good question Carol. That's kind of the reverse of what Stoneham did in 2008, when they essentially dead-ended Ravine Road (and Phillips Road, which is all in Stoneham) at the intersection of Fellsway East (on their side of the street). The concern back then was that cut-through traffic would become heavier on nearby streets such as Felicia Road and Glen Street. Maybe we can just convince GPS makers to not send people down Ravine Road and put a little "There Be Dragons Here!" note on the road or something. That might scare 'em off.
Dave Gray June 05, 2012 at 03:55 AM
I understand the concerns about safety for the Ravine kids - I really do - but speed enforcement there is the responsibility of the Stoneham Police, but I have never - not once - seen a Stoneham cruiser there doing speed enforcement. A slew of $100 tickets with a five year insurance surcharge would slow things down there, I bet, and a bunch of 8 inch speed bumps wouldn't hurt either.
Carol June 05, 2012 at 10:43 PM
This may be a dead thread now but another question I have is who and where are the people who are supposed to be "studying" the impacts of the Ravine Road change? I haven't seen anyone out there checking out how things are going. It leads me to believe this trial run isn't what is seems to be.
Chad H. June 08, 2012 at 01:18 AM
I have to agree with Carol that this "trial" isn't what it seems to be. I found it interesting when I happened to go up Ravine Road onto Woodland the other day and noticed all the nice new arrows painted. They really have done quite a bit of work to a road that is only supposed to be one-way for a trial period. Certainly seems to me that they intend to make this permanent and disregard all the comments from the commuters and even a mayor. For those that live on Ravine Road and the surrounding area that support this change how is it now fair to the other side streets that folks are going down to avoid this mess? If there were statistics supporting the argument that it is a dangerous intersection then I'd be in agreement with you about needing a change. However the facts are it is not dangerous and your issues could be solved by implementing some of the suggestions posted in this very forum.
Daniel DeMaina (Editor) June 08, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Thanks to everyone for the ongoing comments, opinions and thoughtful ideas on alternative solutions. As this comment thread is still very much alive and kicking, I'm bouncing it back onto the homepage again. In the meantime, be sure to read two Ravine Road residents' rebuttal to Dolan's letter here: melrose.patch.com/articles/letter-ravine-road-disagree-with-dolan-residents-support-one-way-trial
Chris Vander Rhodes June 08, 2012 at 11:38 AM
*plausible
Sandra Nagle June 08, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Not sure if this has been offered as a solution or not, didn't read all the comments. How about widening Pond Street between Woodland Road and LFP so that there are 2 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.
Greg W June 08, 2012 at 02:21 PM
As someone who lives on Fellsway E I agree with David. One of the biggest reasons that there are safety problems is that the speed limits on these roads are not enforced. Fellsway E in the residential area is 25 MPH; no way do most cars go that slow, including me. 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. I realize that traffice enforcement isn't glamorous, but I'm guessing it wouldn't hurt the budget problems. I also know that a traffice study WAS done in the area, because I saw the meters outside my home, but I don't think the results were ever shared with the general public.
Robert June 08, 2012 at 04:15 PM
I too, live near the Ravine Road/Fellsway intersection, and am astounded by the lack of logic demonstrated by this "experiment". The experiment failed on its very first day and does not require 6 months to yield a better result. 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. Let's also consider for a moment...What is the benefit of forcing cars, traveling opposite the water station, already in the right hand lane, AND bearing right onto Ravine to continue beyond Ravine, to purposely add to the major cluster created by the Upper Pond Street log jam? There is nothing safer than being in the right hand lane on a road without oncoming traffic and bearing right! What about that parking lot between 5-630pm, I mean the line of cars inching ever so slowly in the left hand lane waiting to take a left onto Pond St? At least it gives us some time to admire the pond for 20mins before finally gaining access to Pond St. 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.
Chris Vander Rhodes June 08, 2012 at 09:10 PM
The accident report numbers quoted here clearly don't support this action, and for that reason alone the trial should never have been started. (If this intersection is such an issue and has been for years, why aren't there any accident reports past 2009?!) One the one hand, crossing Fellsway at rush hour was dangerous and I can see reasons to not permit it... at rush hour. So make Lower Ravine Road a Do Not Enter between 5 and 7 pm 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 Main Street, so you're not going to see the same sort of traffic you saw on Lower Ravine Road.
Chris Vander Rhodes June 08, 2012 at 09:10 PM
That intersection really isn't a problem outside of 5-7pm, at least not in my experience, which is why I don't think the Do Not Enter needs to be enacted at all hours of the day. Reopening Upper Ravine Road to traffic in both directions allows commuters heading towards Washington Street and Malden to stay out of the Pond Street traffic. It allows commuters heading left (North) on Lynn Fells Parkway to avoid having to make a left turn at the intersection of Pond Street and Ravine Road. I'm not a traffic expert, but it seems to me that this is the easiest and most cost effective way to alleviate these traffic problems.
Chris Vander Rhodes June 08, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Otherwise, if they insist on keeping Upper Ravine Road One Way at all hours, it seems to me that they need to: - Widen Pond Street to 2 lanes heading East (I imagine this could be done without actual road widening by eliminating the shoulder on both sides and repainting the lines. You'd probably also have to sacrifice the trailhead parking area on Pond Street, which will be unpopular with some people.( - Add a Left Turn signal at Pond Street and Lynn Fells Parkway. Making that left turn has always been a challenge anyway, and is a problem at all hours of the day. - Lengthen the light cycle at Pond Street/Lynn Fells to allow for more flow of commuter traffic from Pond Street, to alleviate backups on Woodland Road. - Consider making Pond Street at Woodland Road a roundabout. Yes, roundabouts suck. But Massachusetts already uses them liberally, including one on this route at the end of Woodland Road in Medford. - Alternately, install a traffic light at this intersection, but since the issue is only 5-7pm, a traffic light there all the time feels like overkill.
Chris Vander Rhodes June 08, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Something has to be done before this six month "trial period" is up. If we're in "but think of the chldren!" mode, let's try also thinking of the children of all the commuters who need to be picked up from various day care situations. Adding 10-20 minutes to everyone's commute is surely having an impact with day care providers and other child care situations. It's great that the 25 children (and other residents) on Ravine Road feel safer, but making a decision that helps a handful of people while leaving scores of other people at a disadvantage doesn't make any kind of sense. (and I apologize for the multiple comments, this system doesn't let you post too much at once and I'm not good at self-editing :) )
Chris Vander Rhodes June 08, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Whoops this should read "none of those side streets are an obvious route from Upper Ravine Road to Wyoming Ave."
Chad H. June 11, 2012 at 02:37 AM
So tomorrow starts the heavy machinery on Woodland correct? I can't wait for the fun tomorrow trying to make it to my boys last t-ball game at 5:30pm. But hey as long as the folks living in the area feel safe now, what's a few more minutes (if only) each night for the rest of us worth anyways?
Matt June 11, 2012 at 04:42 PM
That is so great that we should also implement a new one way on Lebanon street where I live. The traffic on Lebanon street where I live is really heavy. Maybe Main Street one way to Malden and Lebanon one way from Malden. People just use it all day as a cut-through from Melrose to Malden and it just isn't safe for the kids. Sure I knew it was a busy street, and that made my house about $50k cheaper than it would have been on another street, but traffic just gets worse and worse. [end sarcasm] Are the Stoneham assessors going to revalue the houses and increase taxes on Ravine Rd. now that there is less traffic? Seems only appropriate...

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