SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 5, 2013

Officials take on North Street traffic woes

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — DANVERS — The town has posted new speed limit and crosswalk signs, pruned tree limbs, and ordered a tower sign to alert motorists to a crosswalk in an effort to calm traffic at the busy intersection of North and Summer streets and Rogers Road.

Police have also stepped up patrols and made use of an electronic sign that can both warn motorists of their speed and collect data.

At last week’s selectmen meeting, Director of Planning and Human Services Karen Nelson and police Chief Neil Ouellette summarized efforts of police, the Department of Public Works and the Danvers Traffic Advisory Committee to tame traffic on the wide, sloping street.

The street has become an increasingly popular commuter cut-through, officials said, raising concerns about speed and safety.

North Street residents Michael and Amy Kasprzak spurred discussion on traffic-calming measures at the end of last year, after an SUV struck the wall of their 10-year-old daughter’s bedroom in October.

The Kasprzaks, who said other vehicles have gone off the road at or near their home, had suggested the construction of a blinking yellow and red beacon. The family was not at last week’s meeting, and a call to their home seeking comment was not returned as of press time last night.

Nelson said the estimated cost of the flashing beacon would be $50,000 to $75,000, with a cost of $10,000 for installation. Selectman Gardner Trask said a beacon may not be warranted, given it appears to police that many of the accidents are an anomaly.

“I can’t see spending $100,000 on this solution,” Trask said, who said the town has done most of what has been recommended and that the family may be sensitive to traffic due to what happened at their home.

“I think we have done as much as we reasonably can do,” selectmen Chairman Bill Clark said.

Selectman Mike Powers said family members have spoken to him about the beacon, and while he is not opposed to it, it may not make the most sense. He suggested a traffic island at the base of Summer Street to help slow traffic making turns onto this street.

“North Street has been on our radar, you might say, for quite some time,” Ouellette said.

In 2012, there were 13 accidents on North Street, Ouellette said, and police conducted 143 directed patrols, with 43 percent of these resulting in no violations. Since the October accident, 47 patrols were conducted. In all, 214 citations were issued for speeding last year on North Street.

There have been three more accidents reported so far this year. None appeared to be caused by speed or overly reckless driving, Ouellette said. One of those accidents involved a vehicle that crossed the center line and hit another. Ouellette said the driver in this crash was cited with driving to endanger. Police happened to be patrolling the street at the time of the accident, Ouellette said.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.