Andover officials released a draft of MassDOT’s Road Safety Audit for Elm Square Monday morning, which includes 88 recommendations for improving safety in the busy Downtown intersection.
The audit was conducted after a five-year-old girl was hit and killed by a truck while crossing the street in Elm Square on May 9. The audit includes recommendations for immediate changes, as well as mid-to-long term changes to improve pedestrian safety in Elm Square.
About 40,000 vehicles pass through Elm Square each day. Safety The safety issues identified in the 168-page report include unclear lane assignments, inefficient traffic signals, conflicting movements, and inadequate pedestrian and bicycle facilities.
The report and recommendations were scheduled to be discussed Monday evening at the Elm Square safety forum. Recommendations were divided into short-term projects that could be completed in less than a year, medium-term changes that would take 1-3 years to complete, and fixes that would take longer than three years. The fixes rang in cost from under $10,000 to more than $50,000.
Short-term fixes that would have a high “safety payoff,” according to the MassDOT report, include adding “No Turn on Red” restrictions to the intersection, and changing signals to stop traffic in all directions when walk signals are lit.
The intersection is a longstanding target for safety complaints. Currently, lights in Elm Square are configured so drivers can turn right when walk signs are lit. The controllers have a feature known as “Lead Pedestrian Interval,” which lights the walk signs before the right turn lights, giving pedestrians a slight head start.
Sidney Olson’s parents said the walk light was lit when she was hit by a Sysco truck. The driver cooperated with investigators and no charges have been filed.
Other short-term solutions include improving signage and pavement markings, installing traffic signal upgrades and coordination, and enhancing pedestrian and bicycle facilities. Some of the long-term solutions include implementing geometric modifications to simplify the intersection layout and reduce conflict points, and conducting further studies to evaluate the feasibility and impacts of more comprehensive solutions, such as a roundabout or a grade separation.
The audit team also developed an implementation plan that prioritizes the recommended countermeasures based on their effectiveness, cost, and complexity. The plan also identifies potential funding sources and responsible agencies for each countermeasure. The audit team will monitor the progress and performance of the implemented countermeasures and provide feedback to MassDOT.
The road safety audit is part of MassDOT’s Road Safety Audit Program, which aims to reduce crashes and fatalities on state highways by conducting systematic evaluations of high-crash locations and recommending low-cost, high-benefit improvements. The program is funded by the Federal Highway Administration’s Highway Safety Improvement Program.