The father of Sidney Olson — the five-year-old girl hit and killed by a truck while crossing Elm Square last month — asked the select board Mondayto make immediate “common sense changes” to improve pedestrian safety Downtown.
“I think we’d all say no one should die in a crosswalk,” Eric Olson said. “No one should feel unsafe in a crosswalk.”
The Olsons live on Elm Street, and Eric Olson recalled fond memories of living so close to Downtown. He told the board of “dancing at Concerts in the Park,” getting hot chocolate at Caffe Nero when it was cold and taking Sidney to Perry’s Plate for breakfast every Saturday. Sidney was walking to an art class Downtown with her family when she was hit and killed by a truck on May 9.
Olson said his comments were a preview of what he plans to tell a community forum about Elm Square on Thursday.
More coverage on Andover News:
- Town, MassDOT Dispute Elm Square Signal Oversight
- Andover Repainting Street Lines After Fatal Crash
- Speed Not A Factor In Fatal Andover Crash
- State Looking At Elm Square Safety
- Elm Square Safety Fix Delayed By Studies, Traffic Concerns
- Officials Identify 5-Year-Old Crash Victim
- Town Pressured To Make Elm Square Safer
- Witnesses Recall Horror Of Fatal Crash
- Child Hit, Killed In Elm Street Crash
The intersection is a longstanding target for safety complaints. Olson also said a group of concerned families had formed an advocacy group called “Sidney’s Rainbows.”
Olson said Sidney’s Rainbows wants the Town to commit to “zero fatalities” and to work with the state Department of Transportation to expand its safety audit of Elm Square to other Downtown intersections. The also wants the Town to move stop lines in the intersection back from crosswalks and stricter enforcement of speed limits on the streets feeding into the intersection.
Olson said Andover’s rapid growth has changed traffic patterns and increased pedestrian density Downtown. “The pace of these traffic changes is not keeping pace with changes in Andover,” he said.
Sidney was hit while the walk sign was lit and after the truck came to a stop. No charges have been filed, and the investigation is ongoing, but officials have already ruled out speed as a factor. She was the second pedestrian killed on Elm Street in a little more than a year. Eric Olson noted other crashes and statistics from the street and intersection.
“But that data doesn’t include the near misses,” he said. “For people who live in those neighborhoods, we see it every day.”
Thursday’s forum begins at 7 p.m. in Memorial Auditorium at Doherty Middle School. Deputy Town Manager Michael Lindstrom said the forum will have representatives from different Town departments giving an overview of concerns in the square, possible solutions, and the traffic study process.
But “this is really going to be a listening session,” Lindstrom said.
Read the full story on the Boston Globe.