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February 1, 2013

Work begins at busy Salem intersection

Salem Depot work will take several years

SALEM — Jayme Havens and her 4-year-old son, Joseph, anxiously waited for a chance to cross the busy street yesterday afternoon as cars sped past.

Even after the traffic light changed, they hesitated for several seconds in the cold near the Salem Depot.

They weren’t sure if it was safe to cross what some have called the most congested intersection in town — Routes 28 and 97.

“It’s crazy and busy,” the 34-year-old Salem woman said. “It’s always very busy.”

The town is beginning a project that has been under consideration for years. When it’s finally complete, sometime in the next several years, residents and business owners are hoping the intersection will be much safer and less congested.

Salem community development director William Scott told selectmen this week that $195,000 in design work has begun at the controversial intersection. About 30 percent of the design has been completed, he said, the remainder will be wrapped up by November.

The state Department of Transportation will reimburse the town for $156,000 of the cost, or 80 percent, Scott said. He did not say when construction would begin.

Scott asked selectmen if a Salem Depot subcommittee would be revived to oversee the project, expected to cost more than $2.5 million. They decided against having a subcommittee. The town completed a major redevelopment of the Depot area a couple of years ago.

Once the intersection is redeveloped, left-turn lanes would be provided at approaches to the intersection. The town’s proposal also calls for two through lanes in each direction on Route 28 and a single through lane in each direction on Route 97.

The turn lanes are expected to provide much smoother traffic flow. Traffic signal improvements are also planned nearby.

Havens said as a Salem resident, she welcomes anything that can be done to reduce traffic and improve safety at the busy intersection.

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