WATERTOWN — On a recent afternoon, it took Councilwoman Lisa Ruggiero about 10 minutes to get through three traffic lights from Massey Street to Public Square.
She’s blaming some new traffic patterns along a two-block section of Arsenal Street that were put into place this summer.
She purposely timed how long it took her to get through those two blocks during one day last week at about 4 p.m.
“Some of the lights I sat through three times,” she said Monday night. “I mean that’s how backed up it was.”
In July, the city made the changes along those two blocks to make it safer for pedestrians to cross at the section of Arsenal Street in front of the Jefferson County complex.
Over the years, that spot was the site of several pedestrian-vehicle accidents, mainly caused by inattentive motorists speeding through the busy four-lane street.
Back in July, the city reduced the number of lanes from four to two and created a turning lane between Massey and Sherman streets and made a series of other modifications.
To make the changes, it took some simple road striping and adding signage.
The city made the changes on a trial basis to see how they would work out.
But the new traffic patterns are causing some unintended consequences.
Councilwoman Ruggiero says there just isn’t enough time for vehicles to get through the Massey-Arsenal street intersection. Only about four vehicles can get through the intersection.
People are now complaining about the situation. City Manager Rick Finn said the city has received a number of calls. Councilwoman Sarah V. Compos said she was asked about it, too.
With those concerns expressed, the city’s Engineering Office is revisiting the changes.
City Engineer Michael DeLaney said he’s waiting for some data from the state before he can determine whether “it’s better now or better before” the new traffic patterns were put into place.
He won’t be able to say one way or another until he receives the information from the state.
The other changes that were made in July included: creating a “No Go Zone” from Sherman Street to the entrance of the Top of Square plaza. Traffic is no longer permitted to use the two inner lanes in that block.
Traffic continues to travel in both directions by using the outer lanes. Motorists must make left-hand turns at Massey and Sherman streets.
The city also looked at other more expensive methods, like installing curb bump-outs and so-called flash beacon lights, but underground utility lines would prevent doing that, city officials said.
About 16,000 vehicles travel through the area a day.