Two strikes for Alan's Locksmith; Building is a `hit' with autos.
WORCESTER - You could say the Alan's Locksmith building at 38 Chandler St. has been struck by lightning twice.
If by "lightning," that is, you mean wayward motor vehicles.
Thursday night, for the second time in a year and a half, Alan Doiron, longtime owner of the small, triangular-shaped building at Chandler and Irving streets, got a call from police letting him know that a car or truck had smashed into his building.
Mr. Doiron said repairs and a new facade on the building were completed over the winter after the last accident. The repairs were paid in part with a city grant for business owners in the area doing facade work. Indeed, the pile of rubble under the bent window frame seemed remarkably new. The wood framing was still fresh, and some of the studs still had scanning labels stapled on them.
"The last one was worse," Mr. Doiron said. "The (Chevrolet pickup) S-10 went 3 feet into the building."
There was less damage inside from this week's accident; still, Mr. Doiron said a desk was pushed across the narrow office, and some new wood trim inside snapped. He wondered what might have happened if the accident occurred during business hours.
"Fortunately, nobody was sitting there," Mr. Doiron said.
According to a copy of the accident report provided to Mr. Doiron by police, a Chevrolet driven by a Southbridge woman had a green light to pull out from Irving Street on to Chandler, about 10:20 p.m. Thursday night. A Toyota driven by a Holden man apparently ran the red light on Chandler heading toward Park Avenue. The Chevy struck the Toyota, pushing it across the street into Mr. Doiron's business. No further information was available from police yesterday. Pieces of plastic from the accident were still in the intersection yesterday afternoon.
A young man walked by and asked Mr. Doiron and his son-in-law, Steven Bates, who helps run the business, what happened.
"They thought our key service was a drive-through," Mr. Bates joked.
Mr. Bates and Mr. Doiron were able to keep a positive perspective on the latest accident, but they said small changes to the way the traffic lights are positioned could go a long way toward preventing future accidents.
"I've seen police cruisers get hit; I've seen ambulances get hit; you name it," Mr. Doiron said.
Drivers heading downtown on Chandler from Park Avenue have a large array of traffic signals that hang over the two southbound lanes at the Irving Street intersection. But drivers heading toward Park Avenue have only a traffic signal attached to a shorter pole on a sidewalk at Irving and Chandler. There is another array of lights across the street on the pole in front of Alan's Locksmith. Mr. Doiron and Mr. Bates both said they believe people have trouble noticing the lights while heading west toward Park Avenue, and that an overhanging set of traffic lights might do the trick.
"With the intersection we have here, people do not see the red light coming up from Main Street," Mr. Doiron said.
Mr. Doiron said he wonders whether it might be a good idea to have some sort of barrier installed along the sidewalk. But he said he wants his business to remain as open and accessible as it can be. The store remained open yesterday even as the front of his building was smashed in.
Mr. Bates said one good thing about having the facade work done last year was that new windows were installed. He said the old ones would have simply smashed to pieces as they did during the first accident, but it appeared that the windows remained intact and in relatively good shape Thursday.
Customers were undeterred, and still came in for keys, ranging from typical house keys to newer, computerized keys used in many new cars. Mr. Doiron said if the city addressed the traffic light issue, it could also make things easier for pedestrians in the area.
"It's awful," Mr. Doiron said. "There's no button. Whichever way you walk, you have a green light."
PHOTOG: T&G Staff/MARK C. IDE
CUTLINE: Alan Doiron is now well-experienced in dealing with cars smashing into his locksmith shop on Chandler Street.