One Question – Three Ward 4 Candidates
Last week we asked each of the three candidates for the Ward 4 City Council seat a question. All three were kind enough to answer the question for us. Tim Flynn and Robert A. McCarthy will each appear on the ballot on Tuesday, November 7. They each collected the required 25 signatures of Ward 4 registered voters prior to the deadline. Ana Campos came in after that deadline so is therefore a sticker (write-in) candidate.
The question is.
“Highland Avenue has been developed and built on consistently over the last 50 years, the hospital expansion is the most recent project to get local approvals. How would you approach working with the Mayor and State officials to alleviate traffic concerns?
While growing up in Salem I’ve noticed a big change in the amount of traffic that our residents have to deal with on a daily basis. If I am successful in the upcoming election my main focus is on taking care of the problems in Ward 4. It is pretty clear that Highland Avenue is already too heavily congested. Whether you’re heading inbound or outbound, the traffic in this area is a nightmare. I feel that before any new major businesses are developed on Highland Avenue there needs to be a more thorough study performed on how traffic and the neighborhoods will be affected. Even though it is nice to have a new development bringing in tax dollars, I feel the quality of life for the neighbors is far more important. I don’t think that it is a good idea to build the proposed Cinema World Complex on Highland Avenue. Since the land has already been purchased, maybe the developer could decide on a better use for the area. Many people supported buying a high priced parking lot on Derby Street in order to have more green space. Maybe the city should of looked into trying to keep the land that Cinema World wants to build on as green space. I am sure a lot more wild life will be displaced by a new development there as opposed to the Derby Street parking lot. I would be willing to work with who ever is elected on November 7th but keep in mind the best interest of Ward 4 will be my priority. As far as solving the traffic issues on Highland Avenue, you have to look at it with common sense. It is already far too congested and adding any major developments will only increase the problem. I feel bad for anyone that has to travel daily on Highland Avenue, especially those that live from Barcelona Avenue up to the Lynn line. Next time you’re on Highland Ave in a traffic jam, think to yourself how hard it would be for a police car, fire truck or an ambulance to get through.
ROBERT A. MCCARTHY
In a perfect world I believe the answer would be to work on widening the roads however, that would seem improbable. Based on astudy that was done in 2015 by Cinemaworld, Highland Avenue sees roughly 30,000 vehicles daily and growing year over year. I believe it would be in the city’s best interest to reevaluate the peak hours of traffic and adjust the traffic lights timing. By adjusting the timing and making certain areas unison, I believe the potential is there to help reduce the current headache.
Also, I believe it is extremely important that we avoid adding anymore cut through traffic through Ward 4 and other Wards. Speed limits are ignored by many drivers and the safety of families is a concern.
When thinking about Highland Avenue and traffic concerns, we need to put in place strategies to reduce the current load, and carefully think through any new development projects along that corridor to minimize future additional traffic. Our main priority right now should be increasing and improving public transit options to reduce cars on the road. This will improve traffic conditions and efficiency for those of us who live in the more residential neighborhoods of Salem and rely on cars for transportation.
While Highland Avenue itself has numerous bus stops with the 450/450W and 456 MBTA bus lines, our bus stops need an overhaul. Without seating and shelter, residents are not encouraged to make use of the bus lines, especially during the winter seasons. I will advocate for the implementation of bus shelters, to improve conditions for those who depend on mass transit, and encourage more use of mass transit. These bus lines are also inconvenient for most of the Ward 4 neighborhoods. There is currently no public transit option along Marlborough Road, which feeds traffic onto Highland Avenue. So, for example, someone living in the Circle Hill Road area has an almost 25 minute walk to get to the nearest bus stop, at Highland Ave and Greenledge Rd. I will advocate for the implementation of a regular and reliable shuttle, to provide mass transit options for those of us who live along the Marlborough Road corridor. A shuttle running along Marlborough would greatly reduce traffic by providing mass transit to downtown Salem and clearing the roads for those who need cars to get around.
We must also look to the future of Highland Avenue and make thoughtful and strategic decisions about upcoming construction projects along this corridor. I will be an advocate for the concerns of Ward 4 residents and be an independent voice on City Council. Most residents of Ward 4, myself included, were extremely concerned about the Cinemaworld Salem project proposal on Highland Avenue. The project engineer conducted a study of the traffic impact, estimating an average increase of 2,000 cars daily—but this was data was providing a skewed picture, since the reality would have been that the bulk of the traffic would occur Thursday through Sunday, with increases of up to 5,000 cars on those days. Highland Avenue does not have the infrastructure for this, and I will work hard to make sure that any new projects minimize traffic increase. I will listen to feedback from the neighborhood on all future proposals and encourage projects outside of the hospitality and entertainment industries