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Independent Thoughts: Downtown crosswalk beacons stay dark due to project delay; PJB auction upcoming

by | Feb 7, 2024 | Featured, Featured: Features

Main Street crosswalk

This image from last June shows the location of the old crosswalk (the sign behind the police car) and the new one (in the road, on the opposite side of Church Street). The new crosswalk has yet to get the accompanying flashing beacon that alerts drivers to a pedestrian in the roadway. FILE PHOTO/JERRY SPAR

Peter LaGoy, best known for his work on the town’s trails, lately has turned some of his focus to downtown streets.

He recently reached out to town officials to express his dismay with the removal of the flashing pedestrian crossing beacon at the Main Street crosswalk between Hopkinton Public Library and Bill’s Pizzeria due to the Main Street Corridor Project.

“The lack of a signal at the Main Street crossing by the library is very dangerous right now, as it has been for months and months. This is unacceptable!” LaGoy wrote last month via email. “The existing signal, which people had become used to, should NEVER have been removed until such time as the signal was replaced. I can’t imagine a safety engineer anywhere thinking that removing a crossing signal and leaving an unsignalized crossing is acceptable.”

LaGoy pushed for the town to take immediate steps to resolve the issue, whether it be a pedestrian crossing sign in the middle of the road or some other option.

Select Board member Amy Ritterbusch explained that the beacon will not be restored until the utility undergrounding work is completed. That work was supposed to have been finished last fall, but it was delayed due to Eversource not having the needed transformers — and at a meeting last month, Eversource indicated it could not provide an expected delivery date, so it’s unclear when the issue will be fixed.

This delay also means flashing crosswalks at the Police Station/Fire Station as well as at Hayden Rowe Street/Town Common are not yet functional.

However, Ritterbusch noted that the flashing crosswalks on the west side of the project (Center Trail, Pleasant Street, Wood Street) as well as the one at the Route 85 intersection are active.

Ritterbusch indicated that she shared with LaGoy’s frustration.

“I agree it is extremely disappointing, especially in the case of the one by the library and Bill’s. It is used a lot,” she wrote. “I agree it is very dangerous right now. I walk downtown regularly and I attend a lot of evening meetings in the winter, and I worry a pedestrian could get hit.”

LaGoy credited the project with making adjustments in the location of the crosswalks that he believes will encourage more use (and discourage jaywalking). However, he questioned the placement of the controls for a couple of the downtown signals — rather than being next to the road, they are a few feet away, on the opposite side of the (oft-criticized, including by LaGoy) bike lane.

“If the intent of the engineers was to allow pedestrians to activate the signal prior to stepping into a busy bike travel lane, I can assure them that pedestrians will not need to worry for at least the next few years of this issue,” LaGoy wrote. “For pedestrian safety, please move the crosswalk controls so the signals can be activated near the road, where pedestrians waiting to cross will use them more regularly, and where drivers will be better able to see pedestrians waiting to cross.”

Students organize PJB auction

A group of students from Hopkinton High School has organized an online auction fundraiser to benefit Hopkinton’s Project Just Because.

The auction will run from Feb. 15-18 and can be accessed at auction.frontstream.com/auction/AuctionHome.action?documentId=341791876.

Organizers continue to accept items to be auctioned off (donation can be made via the above link).

“It is completely student-run and a great example of the change we can enact as a dedicated and responsible group of students hoping to raise awareness for those who need it,” explained HHS student Devanshi Agrawal. “The auction is a four-month arduous process of raising money, receiving and asking for donations, organizing student volunteers, planning baskets, working on and editing our website, and then distributing the items. It even raised $5500 last year! This year, we plan to continue to do the same.”

Puzzle competition returns

Following last year’s inaugural It’s a Puzzler jigsaw puzzle competition that proved to be very popular, Hopkinton Parks & Recreation and the Hopkinton Senior Center are bringing the event back this month.

This year’s competition, open to all ages, is set for Thursday, Feb. 22, from 1-5 p.m. Registration opened Feb. 1 at hopkintonma.myrec.com. Last year’s even filled up very quickly, so those interested should sign up quickly in order to be secure one of the 15 team slots.

Teams of up to five members will compete to see who can finish the same 500-piece jigsaw puzzle first. The winners will get their names on the new Puzzlers Cup.

There also will be a puzzle swap, where individuals can bring puzzles to exchange with other enthusiasts.

Hopkinton actress in ‘Mousetrap’

Hopkinton actress Ashley Harmon is appearing in the Walpole Footlighters production of Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap.” Performances began Feb. 2, and remaining shows are set for the next two weekends at the Walpole Footlighters Playhouse.

Harmon is playing the role of Miss Casewell, a female traveler with a curious background. She said she is enjoying the role because, “She’s so unlike the characters I usually play; it’s been a blast to be so cold and troubled onstage.”

Harmon is a veteran performer for the Footlighters, who are celebrating their 100th season this year. For more information, visit footlighters.com.

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