Changes to dangerous intersection coming early

Mike LaBella/Staff photoThe state plans to rebuild the intersection of Route 110 and Route 108 (Newton Road) where several crashes have happened in recent years.

In a twist on government projects that often begin later than planned, the state has told Haverhill that one big public safety job is likely to happen sooner than expected.

That's good news for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists on Route 110 near Kenoza Lake.

Mayor James Fiorentini said a $2.1 million state redesign of the dangerous intersection of Route 110 and Route 108 (Newton Road) near Winnekenni Park was scheduled to happen in 2022, but state money has become available sooner so the work is expected to begin next year.

"Another roadway project in a nearby town was delayed, so the funds became available to us a year early," Fiorentini said.

There's one catch. For the project to happen, Haverhill must pay $207,000 for the final design. The mayor said he is asking the City Council to approve that spending.

He said the money is available in a reserve account that contains money from the sale of city-owned property.

"We have to move on this quickly and get the design done by the fall in order to qualify" for the state money, the mayor said. "This is why we make it a priority to have money in reserve, so we can move fast when an opportunity like this comes up."

Making the intersection of Route 110 and Route 108 safer is the impetus for the project, the mayor said. This will be accomplished by improving sight lines for drivers and adding dedicated vehicle turning lanes, he said.

The intersection has been the site of several crashes in recent years. It is across from Kenoza Lake.

The city's consultant on the project, Joseph Johnson of Greenman-Pederson Inc., said the crash rate for the intersection is above the statewide and MassDOT District 4 averages for "unsignalized" intersections, meaning those without traffic lights.

Johnson said the project is partly designed to improve the ability of trucks to turn safely at the intersection.

He said the intersection is dangerous because it has an excessive amount of open area. It has just one small traffic island — not enough to safely guide vehicles through the spot.

"As a result, motorists are able to negotiate turning movements at a high rate of speed which corresponds to more severe crashes should they occur," Johnson said. "There is no defined pedestrian accommodation (i.e., sidewalk) nor dedicated facility for bicyclists. Sight distance for motorists travelling on Route 110 can also be hindered by the crest vertical curve that is located within the intersection."

The project also includes dedicated bicycle lanes, new sidewalks along Route 110, a sidewalk connection to Winnekenni Park, drainage improvements, curb ramps for people in wheelchairs, and a new crosswalk closer to the park's entrance that will include automatic flashing warning beacons.

Under the proposed new schedule, work would begin in 2021, with project completion likely by the end of 2022, officials said.

According to MassDOT, a left-turn lane and through lane will be implemented along Route 110 eastbound as part of the improvements.

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