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I-Team: Boston Residents Want Dangerous Street Fixed

By WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve
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BOSTON (CBS) – South Huntington Ave in Jamaica Plain just may be the most accident-prone city block in Boston. Residents are scared to walk on the adjacent sidewalk, and they say they think they know what is to blame for the crashes.

They say whenever the road gets wet watch out. Mike Goss has a bird’s eye view of the road and the unusual number of accidents that happen right outside his window including one last month when a car smashed into his building.

Goss has called police dozens of times. “I feel bad for these people,” Goss says. “I can’t tell everybody ‘don’t park here.’”

Boston Police tell the I-Team they responded to 27 accidents last year on this stretch of South Huntington which is less than a block and twice as many the year before; A coincidence? Not according to Spencer, whose car was hit, his wife’s car was totaled and his parents’ car severely damaged. “It was ten thousand dollars’ worth of work,” Spencer says.

Neighbors WBZ-TV talked to all believe the accidents have something to do with the Green Line tracks on the road.

“I think the tracks are a little bit too high,” Spencer says, “and when it rains, car’s wheels don’t stay in contact with the road.”

We asked the MBTA about that and they said the rails have nothing to do with the accidents. However, we asked an engineer from the Wentworth Institute to take a look at the stretch of roadway. He said the rails are, in fact, a contributing factor.

Wentworth Institute of Technology engineering professor James Lambrecht believes rubber stripping that was removed from the rails has left the tracks elevated and exposed.

“The pavement should be up at the same level as the rails,” Lambrecht says. “Because the rail is up a little bit, it might cause people to lose control.”

According to Lambrecht, the slope of the road is also a problem. “Maybe this requires a whole reconstruction of the entire street, with different asphalt surface that’s going to give us good friction when it rains, good drainage when it rains,” Lambrecht says.

For now, residents say they know enough not to park in the area, but they worry about the safety of pedestrians. “Someone is going to get hurt severely,” Mike Goss says. “And whether it takes a death, for the MBTA or whoever is responsible for the road, they need to fix it.”

Residents have suggested installing a flashing light warning of slippery conditions when the road is wet but right now, that is not part of any plan.

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