By Barbara Taormina
Malden has a new Long-Term Transportation Study Committee that will assess the city’s transportation systems and policies in the hope of making travel easier for everyone.
Councillor-at-Large Steve Winslow and Ward 1 Councillor Peg Crowe proposed creating the new committee early last October, and this week Mayor Gary Christenson sent a letter to the City Council along with a list of six appointees.
“[The Committee] will look at current procedures, services and projects related to transportation and research,” wrote Christenson. “They will recommend best practices to improve mobility and neighborhood quality of life throughout the city.”
In addition to Winslow and Crowe, Councillor-at-Large Craig Spadafora will serve on the new committee. They will be joined by residents Brendan Connor, David Senatillaka and Keri Pyke, who were appointed by Christenson.
“This is not about particular streets or projects, it’s more about how we work as a city to improve our transportation systems,” said Winslow, who will serve as chairman of the committee. Winslow said the committee will be looking at other communities to see what types of innovative practices have been adopted and might be useful in Malden.
Ward 4 Councillor Ryan O’Malley suggested that the new committee explore the possibility of hiring a transportation planner for the city.
Ward 3 Councillor John Matheson, who heads up the City Council’s Traffic Mitigation Committee, urged the new study committee to look at adjusting traffic signal timing, which is something he has proposed to ease the congestion on city streets. Smart or adaptive traffic signals use sensors and cameras to assess ongoing traffic conditions and adjust the timing of green- and red-light cycles to move vehicles along in the most efficient manner.
“I can tell you that – from talking to residents – vehicular traffic is one of the major concerns,” said Matheson, who added that traffic has grown worse in part because the city has not looked toward new technologies developed to ease the problem.
Matheson said new smart signals could reduce carbon dioxide emissions and potentially cut traffic wait times by as much as 10 to 20 percent.
Winslow said the committee represents a proactive approach to transportation issues and members plan to present their research and recommendations to the mayor and the City Council in March 2019.