Watertown: Safety of Main Street a Big Concern

On this week's episode of Talk of the Town, Watertown Police Commission Chair Richard Antonetti (right) explains the results of the recent Road Safety Audit of Watertown’s Main Street and what new safety precautions the town and police commission are thinking about implementing.

WATERTOWN — Chair of the Police Commission Richard Antonetti was interviewed on an episode of Talk of the Town this week, and took the opportunity to explain the future of road safety on Main Street in Watertown. In the wake of two fatal accidents on Main Street, the town realized that it needed to take action to ensure that similar incidents are avoided. The Police Commission, serving as the town’s local traffic authority, was tasked with finding and implementing solutions.

As chair of the Police Commission, Mr. Antonetti and then Deputy Police Chief Herm Desena went to the state Department of Transportation for assistance and input to make Main Street safer.

The state DOT performed a Road Safety Audit to review the fundamental flaws of Main Street and create a plan of action.

The RSA has since been completed, and suggests that the town tackle the issue in three phases. Phase One involved short-term goals including sign placements and painting road lines.

Phases Two and Three are long-term goals that will allow overhauls to the street and surrounding areas.

It is now up to the town to implement those changes.

“Our Main Street is an old road,” said Mr. Antonetti, adding that any changes to Main Street will be difficult.

It will be complicated for the town to perform drastic changes to Main Street, because of the many businesses that line it and the amount of daily traffic on the road. Figuring out how to tackle the issues triggered the commission to perform multiple road studies to determine what the best courses of action are.

Another issue that caused delays is that the road is a state highway, so any changes have to go before the state DOT.

“We can’t do much unless we get clearance from the department of transportation,” said Mr. Antonetti.

With the help of state Sen. Eric Berthel, R-32, and state Rep. Joe Polletta, R-68, the police commission has been working with the state DOT.

Last month the state DOT commissioner visited town and observed Main Street and showed support in assisting the town in achieving long term goals for the road.

There is still much work to be done on Main Street, but the police commission and the town now have an outline to prepare for the future.

“The RSA is the direction we hope to be going in,” said Mr. Antonetti.

Mr. Antonetti said that the town has committed $70,000 to implementing some of the RSA’s goals, such as installing new signs and painting new road lines.

Over the summer and fall the town has completed Phase One of the RSA. The police commission looks to implement Phases Two and Three of the RSA next.

This will include creating additional parking, synchronizing stop lights, installing new sidewalks and adding additional lighting for pedestrians.

Some of these changes will take years to implement and will cost the town money, but Mr. Antonetti believes that it is the best option for the town.

“I say think big and we will see fantastic development,” he said.

The police commission plans to continue its discussion on road safety for Main Street and how to properly implement the RSA which will benefit taxpayers and the community for both the short and long term.

The commission meets at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month at the Watertown Police Department, 195 French St. Those interested in partaking in the conversation are encouraged to attend.

The full Talk of the Town video-podcast segment can be viewed on the Town Times website, their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/town.times or by clicking on this link: https://vimeo.com/371876182

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