The most dangerous intersection in Western Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley is about to get safer.
Planned improvements to the intersection of Boston Road and Parker Street in Springfield include advanced signage to help drivers plan where they’re going in the intersection, increasing the size and brightness of traffic signals, enhancing nighttime lighting, and most significantly: consolidating commercial driveways near the intersection to improve traffic flow, said Allan Chwalek, Springfield’s public works superintendent.
These changes are due in part to a recent report from the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission that examined 100 high-crash intersections in the region, and found Boston Road-Parker Street to be the most dangerous.
Longtime Springfield resident Jennifer Smith, who was running an errand at the Walgreens located at the intersection’s northeast corner, said she was so frustrated with traffic on this busy roadway that she decided to move to Wilbraham, “That way, I never have to drive on Parker Street again.”
Even with the scheduled improvements, however, the intersection will probably remain in the list of top 10 most dangerous intersections due to the high volume of traffic that flows through it, said Chwalek. “It’s just an incredibly busy intersection,” he said. “There is not a tremendous amount of changes that can be done. I would be surprised if it ever fell out of the top 10.” Approximately 50,000 vehicles a day – totaling 16 to 17 million a year – travel through the Boston Road – Parker Street intersection, earning it the distinction of busiest crossroads in Western Mass, said Chwalek.
The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission conducts traffic studies every other year, but this was the first time comprehensive data for Springfield and the Boston Road – Parker Street intersection was included, said executive director Timothy Brennan. The studies have found that almost half of the Pioneer Valley’s high-crash intersections are located in Springfield. “It was definitely the ‘aha’ moment'” (pertaining to the study), said Brennan.
One positive takeaway from these statistics is that the high number of accidents in Springfield will help attract state and federal funds to make the city’s roads safer. “More and more at the federal and state level, safety has become a key criteria in how federal and state dollars are spent,” Brennan said.
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Source: Pioneer Valley’s most dangerous intersections: Improvements on the way for intersection of Boston Road and Parker Street, www.masslive.com, January 21, 2013.