Elm Square Safety

In May 2023, the Town of Andover initiated a comprehensive process to assess and implement transportation improvements in Elm Square in response to a tragic fatal pedestrian crash that occurred on May 9, 2023. The process has been led by a multi-disciplinary group of senior Town officials, including staff from the Town Manager's Office, Andover Police Department, Facilities Department, and Public Works. The Town also retained TEC, Inc. (TEC), a civil engineering firm specializing in traffic and pedestrian safety, to facilitate the assessment.

Road Safety Audit
A Road Safety Audit (RSA) was conducted as a component of the Town's broader effort to address safety concerns at Elm Square. An RSA is defined by the Federal Highway Administration as the “formal safety performance examination of an existing or future road or intersection by an independent, multidisciplinary team.” 

The RSA of Elm Square was conducted with participation from senior Town staff, Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) officials, members of WalkBike Andover, Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority staff, Merrimack Valley Planning Commission staff, a representative from the Massachusetts State Police, and consultants from TEC, Inc. (TEC), a civil engineering firm specializing in traffic and pedestrian safety hired by the Town to lead the study.  

The RSA was informed in part by public input registered during a public forum held on June 8, 2023 at WWI Veterans Memorial Auditorium (at Doherty Middle School). A formal RSA meeting was held on Monday, June 26, 2023 at Old Town Hall. The meeting included a review of data related to the intersection, a site walk, and discussion of field observations.

A report on the Elm Square Road Safety Audit was released on August 7, 2023. The report details the RSA process, data gathered during the audit, and safety issues identified during the assessment, and provides a list of 88 potential safety enhancements to the intersection. Safety enhancements considered in the report are categorized as short-term (<1 year), mid-term (1-3 years), and long-term (>3 years). Estimated safety benefits and costs are also listed for each project. 

Action items identified through the RSA that have been selected by the Town for immediate implementation include:

  • Implementation of exclusive pedestrian phasing, where traffic is stopped in all directions when walk signals are activated. At the time of the audit, concurrent pedestrian phasing was in place;
  • Conversion of the left lane on North Main Street southbound to an exclusive left-turn lane;
  • Addition of signage and striping at slip-right lanes;
  • Relocation of Central Street crosswalk further to the west (away from the intersection);
  • Elimination of two parking stalls on Elm Street near High Street;
  • Installation of "No Turn on Red" signs on Main Street northbound and North Main Street South bound approaches; and
  • Development of criteria for >4 foot offsets for stop lines and placement of "Stop Here on Red" signs at stop lines where possible.

These changes may require review and approval from MassDOT under the terms of a Traffic Control Agreement in place between the Town of Andover and the Commonwealth and approval of the Select Board prior to implementation. The Town anticipates that implementation of immediate-term priorities to occur in approximately 3-6 weeks following the August 7 release of the RSA report. 

Click here to view the full Elm Square Road Safety Audit.

Changes Implemented To Date
Throughout the month of August, the Town of Andover implemented several traffic pattern changes that were identified as priority recommendations through the RSA:

  • Exclusive pedestrian phasing. Traffic will be stopped in all directions while walk signs are activated. Slip lanes will remain under YIELD TO PEDESTRIAN control as they are not signalized. This replaces the concurrent pedestrian phasing pattern previously in place.
  • No turn on red signage. Right turns on red are now prohibited from North Main Street southbound and Main Street northbound. Signage reflecting this restriction has been placed at both approaches to the intersection. 
  • Conversation of the center travel lane on North Main Street southbound to "left turn only." An exclusive left turn lane has also been added on North Main Street northbound to allow vehicles to turn onto Pearson Street.

Public Engagement
The Town of Andover is committed to ensuring that the Elm Square pedestrian safety improvement process is guided by input from the community, and announced that three community forums would be held throughout the assessment process to enable residents to provide input on challenges related to the existing condition of the intersection. To date, two community forums have been held. It is anticipated that a third forum will be held in the fall of 2023, following the implementation of immediate-term action items.

Previous Elm Square Safety Forums:

Members of the community are encouraged to submit comments related to the current conditions of Elm Square, or feedback on the RSA by e-mailing: elmsquaresafety@andoverma.us