Andover turned over two written complaints from residents about pedestrian safety in Elm Square between 2018 and May 9, the day 5-year-old Sidney Olson was hit and killed by a truck while crossing the street.

“Unless I’m missing something, the current implementation of traffic lights and cross-walk lights in this intersection must be incorrect, and could be inviting a tragedy that will have us all asking ‘How could this have happened?'” the resident said in a Jan. 30 email to Andover DPW. The letter was among the documents the Town turned over to Andover News Wednesday in response to a public records request.

As currently configured, traffic is allowed to turn right while the walk lights are illuminated. The Olson family said Sidney was hit while the walk light was lit.

The Town said on Wednesday it will hold a community forum on June 8 at 7 p.m. at Memorial Auditorium at Doherty Middle School (50 Bartlet Street) to discuss the steps being taken to address safety concerns.

“Our commitment to pedestrian safety has never been greater, and it has only been strengthened in the recent weeks,” Town Manager Andrew Flanagan said in a news release announcing the forum. “I think that residents will see that reflected in the weeks and months ahead.”

Among other documents, Andover News asked for complaints filed with DPW and police between 2018 and May 9.

The only other complaint the Town turned over was Andover Police Public Safety Officer Glen Ota’s report on an August meeting with Andrew Lewine of WalkBike Andover and another resident, as well as Planning Director Paul Materazzo and Tony Collins and Jim Terlizzi of the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission. The meeting was held to discuss the possibility of making all traffic stop when walk signs were lit and installing No Turn On Red signs.

Ota relayed the concerns to Andover Police Chief Patrick Keefe and Facilities Director Janet Nicosia, who responded by saying she would request funding for a required traffic study at Annual Town Meeting on May 1. In an undated update, Ota’s report said the funds were approved and the Town’s traffic engineer “is now conducting the traffic study and will have results shortly.”

The other documents the Town released Wednesday include a surveyor’s map of Elm Square, a list of non-traffic complaints to the DPW and a spreadsheet showing there were 44 crashes in Elm Square between 2018 and May 9. Those crashes included two with injury and five hit-and-run crashes. The majority of crashes — 33 — involved no injury. The chart does not show how many crashes involved pedestrians.

Share Your Thoughts!
4 thoughts on “Only Two Elm Square Complaints In 5 Years Before Fatal Crash”
  1. At least two complaints are missing here. I know, because I made them.

    The first is an email dated August 9th, 2022 to Officer Ota (among others), in which I “complained” that the pedestrian clearance interval (the amount of time that counts down with the flashing hand) was shorter than required in order to be compliant with national standards (MUTCD). The second is an email dated February 1st, 2023 to Officer Ota and Facilities (among others) in which I “complained” that the pedestrian “head start” which gives pedestrians time to start crossing before the conflicting vehicle phase begins had been *removed* from the intersection and I “requested” that it be put back.

    Happy to provide copies of emails, if interested.

    1. So why isn’t the 44 crash reports your headline?
      Why do you minimize the danger of this intersection?

      1. Because it’s a meaningless number without something to compare it to. Is that normal for similar intersections? Hard to tell because we don;t know how many vehicles pass through that intersection. How serious were each of the crashes? We don’t know because the Town has not yet released the traffic reports. How many crashes involved pedestrians? That is, after all, has become an issue.

        Question for you: Would you be this fired up about this issue if Andrew Flanagan was not Town Manager?

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