Officials work to improve Rte. 6 safety

Jun 11, 2019

Following the most recent pedestrian accident at the crosswalk across Rte. 6 near Swifts Beach Road, the Road Commissioners are determined to take action.

Last week’s accident was the third since December 2018.

“This is the the ones we’ve had reported to us,” said Walcek. “And not reported to us, of course, is all the near misses.”

At their June 10 meeting, the commissioners discussed what action they could take to reduce the risk for pedestrians, although they are somewhat limited by the fact that Route 6 is a state road.

“I think we have a responsibility to make it safe,” said Bill Heaney, the chairman of the Commission.

Chief Walcek said that he reached out to an engineer who works for the state who told him that once a crosswalk is placed, it is almost never removed. The engineer told Walcek that he will be doing more research to see what prior studies were done on the crosswalk, which is 44 feet across and 100 feet from the entrance to Swifts Beach Road.

All agreed that the danger for pedestrians is that when a car in the right travel lane stops, a car in the left passing lane may not be able to see the pedestrian while approaching.

“There’s got to be either flashing crosswalk signs, so you can see the sign — and that’s at the least — or a sign that we put up that warns the pedestrian,” said Heaney.

Acting Police Chief John Walcek thought the easiest and fastest solution might be to install a sign facing pedestrians on the sidewalk which would warn them not to cross until all four lanes of traffic were stopped.

Dave Menard, the head of the Municipal Maintenance Department, said that he believes that the town needs permission from the state to put up any signage. Heaney said that he thinks the issue is urgent enough that putting up a sign that might be removed by a state was worth the risk.

Menard said that a light-up pedestrian crossing sign was donated to the town. Menard said that although the department had originally planned to use the sign in Onset near Marc Anthony’s, the need at Route 6 seems more urgent. He suggested that the town could install the lighted signs at the crosswalk on a temporary basis until the state was able to replace them, at which point the town’s sign could be used elsewhere.

Walcek has spoken to Rep. Susan Gifford, who said that she is actively looking into the issue.

Menard and Walcek are working together into what the town can do on its own, and to encourage the state to take action.