Sumner Avenue is one of the busiest streets in the City of Springfield. After recent accidents this past year, residents are asking officials to make it safer for both pedestrians and drivers.
Residents of Springfield's Forest Park section met with city and state officials at Trinity Church Tuesday night, hoping to address pedestrian and traffic safety issues that occur along Sumner Avenue.
"I think the traffic is bad on Sumner Avenue and Forest Park Avenue. I think traffic travels on both streets far too fast," said resident Larry Libow.
Speeding is just one of many problems that has residents saying something must be done in order to assure pedestrian safety.
"We'd love to see something done to slow traffic down. Maybe create crosswalks like in the South End that are clearly identified. Also, perhaps rumble strip, narrowing the street and other ways of slowing traffic down that isn't dangerous for the drivers and gives us more safety in crossing the streets," said Libow.
The stretch of road has been prone to accidents.
Last July, 19-year-old Ashley Ballester, was crossing Sumner Ave. with her daughter when the two were struck by a car.
Ballester was killed and her daughter received serious injuries.
Officials at Tuesday night's meeting said they want to hear from residents to construct a plan so that accidents like the one that claimed Ashley's life can be prevented.
"The point is, we need to do something to make it more pedestrian friendly. We need to decrease the volume of traffic and maybe look at some other alternatives," said Rep. Cheryl Coakley-Rivera.
Those alternatives are being reached with the help of UMass Amherst.
The college's Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning is working with the neighborhood to map out the changes they would like done.
"We're thinking of making the traffic pattern to bring more safety to the streets, to increase pedestrian crossings and to enhance connections to Forest Park," said Professor Frank Sleeger.
Those enhancements would include more crosswalks and better lighting for areas that see the most foot traffic.
Rep. Coakley-Rivera said effort from the entire community is needed in order to bring the necessary changes.
"This is about traffic flow, business attraction, residents in terms of retention and quality of life, and of course pedestrian friendly walkways," said Coakley-Rivera.
Tuesday's meeting was one of two. Officials said they'll take input from the meeting to create a master plan to make Sumner Avenue safer.
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