Town of Andover to Host Community Forum on Elm Square Traffic Study
May 24, 2023
ANDOVER, MA – The Town of Andover invites members of the community to attend a public forum on the recently initiated traffic study of the Elm Square intersection on Thursday, June 8 from 7:00-9:00 PM at WWI Memorial Auditorium at Doherty Middle School (50 Bartlet Street). The event will provide an opportunity for participants to learn about what the traffic study entails, its timeline, and factors that will be examined in the process. Attendees will have an opportunity to share their concerns related to the current state of the intersection and ideas for potential improvements.
Town personnel representing the Police Department, Facilities Department, Public Works, and Town Manager’s Office, representatives from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), and engineers from TEC, the firm hired by the Town to conduct the traffic study, will be on hand during the event to provide information and answer questions.
Funding for the Elm Square traffic study was approved during Annual Town Meeting on May 1, 2023. While funding approved at Town Meeting would typically not be available until July 1, Town Manager Andrew Flanagan authorized the traffic study to be initiated immediately in response to the tragic accident that resulted in the fatality of a child in Elm Square on May 9.
The Town’s consultant has already begun the collection of data associated with the intersection - the first step in the traffic study process. Following assessment of traffic operations, intersection geometry, crash data, pedestrian and vehicular movement through the intersection, public comments, and other factors, it is anticipated that the study will produce a list of recommended infrastructure projects to improve pedestrian safety and better accommodate multi-modal transportation in Elm Square.
Town officials have committed to ensuring that the Elm Square traffic study is guided with input from the community. The June 8th forum represents the first in a series of several opportunities for members of the community to participate in the process.
Simultaneous to the Town’s traffic study, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has begun a Road Safety Audit of the intersection at the urging of members of Andover’s state legislative delegation. Under the terms of a 1982 agreement between the Town of Andover and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, any changes to traffic control signalization in the intersection require state approval. MassDOT’s concurrent audit of Elm Square may therefore help expedite requests for signal changes and other improvements that could emerge from the Town’s traffic study.
The community forum will also include an update from Andover Police Chief Patrick Keefe regarding the ongoing investigation being led by the Essex County District Attorney’s office into the May 9 pedestrian fatality in Elm Square. At the May 15, 2023 meeting of the Andover Select Board, Chief Keefe announced that preliminary information from the investigation has indicated that signalization in the intersection was working properly at the time of the accident, the speed that the truck involved was traveling at was not a facor, and that the truck did not experience a mechanical malfunction.
The Elm Square traffic study is among several proactive measures taken by the Town of Andover in recent years to calm traffic and improve pedestrian safety across the community. Last year, Town Meeting approved the adoption of a townwide speed limit of 25 miles per hour in thickly settled areas, an important measure to reduce the risk of serious injuries in motor vehicle accidents. The Andover Police Department is currently conducting education efforts to ensure awareness of this recent change among motorists. The Fiscal Year 2024 budget also included funding to add two officers to the Andover Police Department to reestablish the Traffic Division, which will significantly enhance the enforcement of traffic regulations, including speed restrictions, on local roads.
In 2022, the Town adopted a Complete Streets Policy, which establishes a commitment to accounting for the needs of all users, including bicyclists, motorists, transit riders and pedestrians, in Town roadway projects. In the coming weeks, the Town intends to launch a robust public input process to develop a plan for the prioritization of infrastructure improvements that support all modes of transportation, which may be eligible for grant funding through the Commonwealth’s Complete Streets Funding Program. In parallel to this program, the Town Planning Division and Department of Public Works have launched a Shared Streets Program, through which temporary traffic calming measures that could be replicated as permanent solutions are piloted. Following a project aimed at reducing vehicle speeds on Maple Avenue in 2022, the Town intends to pilot additional shared streets projects in several neighborhoods this summer.
“Our commitment to pedestrian safety has never been greater, and it has only been strengthened in the recent weeks,” said Town Manager Andrew Flanagan. “I think that residents will see that reflected in the weeks and months ahead.”