, Salem, MA

February 5, 2014

Our view: Dealing with a dangerous intersection

The Salem News

---- — The Packowski family calls it “the spot.”

Local drivers know it as the junction of Ferncroft Road and Village Drive, halfway between North Shore Community College’s Danvers campus and the DoubleTree by Hilton Boston North Shore Hotel.

The intersection, which includes a stop sign at the bottom of Village Drive, was installed before commercial and residential growth in the area turned Ferncroft from a quiet access road to a busy thoroughfare (especially when there is an event at the college or hotel).

We’ve all seen our share of accidents or near-accidents there. John and Kelly Packowski’s son was hurt when the car he was riding in was broadsided by a driver who blew through the stop sign. Both vehicles were totaled, and the Packowskis’ son was fortunate to escape with a concussion.

The Packowskis have been working for years to bring modest safety improvements to the area, only to be met with a series of shoulder shrugs from public officials.

It’s unclear who has responsibility for the intersection, which means no one is willing to assume responsibility for making it safer any time soon.

Village Drive runs through Danvers and Middleton (where the Packowskis live), and the small stretch that includes the stop sign is privately owned, by the late developer Thomas Flatley.

Over the years, the Packowskis and their neighbors have met with Middleton Town Administrator Ira Singer, the Danvers Traffic Advisory Committee, state lawmakers and Danvers, Middleton and state police.

“This is a classic case of jurisdictional oversight, where it takes a simple project and magnifies it a couple of times,” said state Rep. Ted Speliotis of Danvers.

That means little has been done, save for beginning a search for Flatley’s heirs.

“Our frustration is this accident happened in July,” John Packowski told reporter Ethan Forman. “We’ve been diligent — if not weekly, then every other week — trying to communicate, trying to get this done. We’ve been trying to get this done for years before the accident happened.”

It’s not like the Packowskis are asking for expensive improvements. The rock wall, plantings and flag pole in the intersection’s median strip need to be removed or redesigned so they are no longer blocking drivers’ line of sight. Some new road striping and a blinking red light would help as well.

Given the fuzzy jurisdictional issues, it would seem Speliotis — or his counterparts in the state Senate, Joan Lovely and Bruce Tarr — needs to step in, bring all parties together, and coordinate efforts so the necessary changes are made in a timely fashion.

It shouldn’t take an accident to get action.