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Short, medium, and long term solutions announced for southeastern MA highway after death of 15-year-old

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MIDDLEBOROUGH – Town Manager James McGrail and Select Board Chair Mark Germain have announced that the Town of Middleborough, legislators, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District are working together to address safety concerns at the Route 28 and Merchant’s Plaza intersection.

On Tuesday, May 23, the Town of Middleborough met with State Representatives Norman Orrall and Susan Williams Gifford, representatives from Senator Marc Pacheco’s office, SRPEDD, Highway District 5 Director Mary-Joe Perry and MassDOT representatives to discuss ways in which the town and state can address safety concerns at the Route 28 and Merchant’s Plaza intersection.

Prior to this meeting, Sen. Pacheco met with MassDOT Secretary Gina Fiandaca last week to discuss the intersection and facilitate solutions.

There have been safety concerns at the Route 28 and Merchant’s Plaza intersection, which is also closely located near the Goode Elementary and Burkland Elementary Schools, since 1988. In 1989, the then-police chief identified the need for a traffic signal at this location stating that there would be a serious public safety problem without one.

The discussion was once again raised following the tragic death of a 15-year-old Middleborough resident Dylan Levesque as a result of an accident that occurred on May 14.

“I would like to thank Middleborough’s town officials, the legislators, SRPEDD and MassDOT for moving so quickly to make a change! The intersection has been so unsafe for our children and members of our community for such a long time,” Dylan Levesque’s mother, Chelsea Levesque, said. “It’s time something was done about it! When my son Dylan passed away, my family and I made it our personal mission to ensure no other family would ever have to go through such a tragedy. And now, because change is being made, I hope that no one ever will.”

During the meeting with town officials and legislators on Tuesday, the Town, MassDOT and SRPEDD committed to collaborate and investigate several solutions to address these concerns. Solutions and action steps include the following:

Short-term solutions:

-Within the next two weeks, dense vegetation located in this area will be cut down to improve visibility
-Pavement markings will be drawn to redo the crosswalk at the Route 28 and Merchant’s Plaza intersection and Wood Street intersection to improve visibility
-Crosswalk signage will also be posted at the Route 28 and Merchant’s Plaza intersection
-Lighting upgrades will be made to improve road visibility at night
-SRPEDD will begin to conduct their Traffic Counting Program the week of June 5 to collect data and research putting a light signal at this location

Medium-term solutions:

-Investigate the installation of rapid flashing light signals at the crosswalk to alert drivers of those who are trying to cross the street at the intersection of Route 28 at Merchant’s Way Plaza
-By mid-summer, the town will also apply for the area near the Route 28 and Merchant’s Plaza intersection to be designated as a school zone
-The town will also apply to the Massachusetts Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program which will allow for a safety study to be conducted of the Route 28 corridor between the Route28/105 intersection and Wood Street

Long-term solutions:

-Investigate the complete redesign and construction of a new and improved intersection that includes a traffic light

“We are extremely pleased to share these action items with our community members as we hope that with each solution we will be able to improve the intersection little by little until we can work toward redesigning and constructing a newer and safer intersection with lights,” Town Manager McGrail said. “I would like to thank all town departments, local and state legislators and MassDOT for their work and collaboration in addressing this area of concern quickly and effectively. I, along with everyone else in the town, look forward to having a safer intersection for all in this busy area of our town.”

Added Select Board Chair Germain, “The Town of Middleborough is committed to addressing this problem intersection, and we are pleased to be working alongside our state partners to facilitate this work. We hope that in the weeks to come we will have significant improvement completed in this area.”

During the week of May 15, MassDOT representatives also visited the Town of Middleborough to conduct an evaluation of the Route 28 and Merchant’s Plaza intersection.

“On behalf of the town, I would like to thank MassDOT for its commitment to several significant changes to this intersection and the Route 28 corridor between the Route 28/105 intersection and Wood Street,” Town Planner Leeann Bradley said. “My office has already contacted the owner of Merchant’s Plaza and we will be visiting the site to view sight distance issues caused by dense vegetation. Any vegetation that impedes sight distance will be removed as soon as possible.”

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