MassDOT to perform safety audit of Route 41/Dublin Road intersection
RICHMOND — The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will begin a road safety audit at a dangerous Route 41 intersection by mid-September. In the meantime, the agency has begun to make short-term improvements at the intersection where two people have died in crashes in the past month.
"We have a plan," MassDOT District Highway Director Francisca Heming said at a special public meeting Tuesday night at Town Hall. "We need to give it time to work."
The Select Board and state officials met to review new safety measures at Route 41 and Dublin Road, which has been the site of many serious collisions, four of them this year.
The most recent crash, Aug. 14, killed Barbara Detlefsen, 72, of Slippery Rock, Pa. In July, Roland Small, 84, of Richmond, died in a two-car crash at the same site.
In response to the crashes, town officials have been working with MassDOT to improve safety in the area, including putting up a sign advising motorists to reduce their speed from 40 mph to 30 mph.
"This intersection really hasn't changed in many years; now all of a sudden there [are] two fatalities in a two- or three-week period," Roger Manzolini, chairman of the town's select board, said Tuesday.
Heming said that, until the recent deaths, the intersection hadn't been on the radar of MassDOT.
"It didn't ring a bell because we didn't have a history with these issues before," she said.
As soon as the agency became aware of the incidents, though, it took action, she said.
In addition to the speed advisory sign, officials have met with the owner of a corner property and gained right of access to trim trees and improve the sightline at the intersection.
Overall, Heming thinks it's an embankment in the area that's the problem and that it will have to be removed. But that can't happen until after the audit September, she said.
Residents and county officials filled Town Hall for the meeting, several of them making suggestions for how to improve safety in the area. Some suggested putting up mirrors, which MassDOT said are illegal traffic devices. Others are looking for signs that indicate how fast drivers are traveling.
State Police Trooper Jim Somerville, who responded to the first fatal crash, said that the visibility at the intersection causes drivers to be unsure of themselves when entering the intersection, he said.
"I think people do one of two things," Somerville said. "People floor through the intersection and hope for the best or they crawl through the intersection. We're finding people are being indecisive."
Speeding, while being enforced on Route 41, is not usually an issue in that area, he said.
"We have speeding problems, but they're not crazy," he said.
Manzolini asked MassDOT representatives whether the audit can take place sooner than September, but Heming said that wouldn't be possible.
"To do a whole improvement to the intersection, it requires we do a survey so we have all the data," she said. "We're going to start moving the trees this week. "Hopefully, that will help."
Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.
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