Accidents are up significantly at the intersection of Route 128 and Elliott Street (Route 62), despite a recent $23 million upgrade to the interchange designed to make driving safer.
While it may be easier to slip on and off the highway, thanks to new ramps and traffic lights, officials say a tricky left-hand turn from Elliott Street, across two lanes of traffic, onto the new ramp to Route 128 north may be to blame for the increase in accidents.
Danvers police responded to 51 accidents at the intersection in the first 10 months of 2011, 79 accidents during the same period last year and 87 accidents during the same 10 months this year, according to a letter from Danvers police Public Safety Analyst Sarah Slavin.
”Of the 87 accidents this year, 35 were due to an operator taking a left turn, and six were identified as rear-end collisions,” Slavin said.
Figures show the intersection averaged 8.6 accidents a month in the first 10 months of 2013, up from 5.3 a month for the entire year of 2011, the year before the new ramps opened.
“Worth noting,” Slavin said in her report, “the new on and off ramps began being used on or about June 1, 2012, and 67 of the 79 accidents that occurred from January — October 2012 happened after the on-ramps opened.”
The continuing number of accidents this year, with many of the accidents taking place between the hours of 10 a.m. and noon and in the late afternoon, suggests something needs to be done about the left turn from Elliott Street eastbound onto the Route 128 north on-ramp, officials said.
Police Chief Neil Ouellette said this turn has been the scene of numerous “courtesy crashes,” as the left-hand turn has to cut across two lanes of Route 62 westbound traffic. The intersection gets tricky when a green left-turn arrow disappears, leaving a steady green light for both directions.