The town of Hingham will permanently paint a portion of the Fourth of July parade route with a red, white, and blue stripe down the center after selectmen agreed that the alteration would not pose a significant safety risk on straight portions of the road.
According to selectmen, the length of Middle Street from Pleasant Street to Short Street, as well as the length of Main Street from Water Street to North Street, will be painted in the patriotic colors.
The town painted a similar stripe last year, but this year the stripe will be permanent.
The decision came after a series of meetings on the subject by both the Traffic and Safety Committee as well as by the Board of Selectmen, who were concerned that the multi-colored stripe would make enforcing specific citations difficult.
In addition, Police Chief Michael Peraino told selectmen that the strip may make driving at night and in the rain treacherous, as the colors would not be as easy to see.
Despite the concerns, George Ford, the Uncle Sam of the parade route and a member of the Fourth of July committee, said that an overwhelming majority of Hingham-ites wanted the street to have that patriotic punch.
“The Fourth of July committee is prepared to fund the striping, and keep this in mind, when people view Hingham, what comes to mind? Historic nature, Fourth of July…We have the opportunity to have the town celebrate the Fourth of July all year long. That’s what Bristol, Rhode Island does, that’s what they do in Peabody. It’s a policy decision,” he said.
According to Ford, although police would not be able to issue citations for double line violations (as the statue specifically mentions a double yellow line), police could still issue citations for driving to endanger or failure to stay within marked lanes.
Ford, a retired lawyer, also said the town would not be liable if someone got in an accident on the street, a statement supported by Town Council, said Town Administrator Ted Alexiades.
Selectman Laura Burns agreed that this issue was important to the town.
"This may be the most popular thing the Board of Selectmen has ever considered. …we did get that feedback," she said.
However the safety concern around corners remained a problem.
“Public safety trumps everything … liability issues are very small, it doesn’t look like there is a big history of people going after towns with things like this," Burns said. "But the traffic committee and chief of police have referenced concern with accidents…so I have been very concerned about … [people driving there] in the dark, or in the rain.”
Burns said it would be “an acceptable risk to public safety” to put the line in from Water Street to the Square, because people tend to slow down in that area and the road is straighter.
Hingham will fall in line with other communities, such as Peabody and Bristol, Rhode Island, who also paint a portion of the street to celebrate the holiday.
Selectman John Riley suggest the town look to the federal government if they wanted to paint the entirety of the route parade, similar to how Bristol obtained permission for the patriotic striping.
According to Ford, to stripe the entirety of the route would cost $3000. They estimate that only doing a portion would cost $1500, an amount the Fourth of July committee would cover.
The striping would not be able to be laid down prior to this year’s Fourth of July, although it will be in place for the future.
According to Ford, the compromise “is acceptable - until we press next year,” he said.
This year’s parade will begin at 10 a.m. and run from Hingham High School to Station Street.