NORTH ANDOVER — The town and its state legislators have begun the effort to make it safer to cross Route 114 near Merrimack College.
The improvements would include a “clear path for pedestrians” across the busy highway, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, told the selectmen Monday night. Tarr, whose district includes four North Andover precincts, said before the state Department of Transportation approves such an upgrade, it must perform a road safety audit of the area.
The intersection of Routes 114 and 125, near Bertucci’s, is where the selectmen and Town Manager Andrew Maylor are pushing for improved pedestrian safety.
Tarr said that for the project to move forward, Merrimack College and the Royal Crest apartments, located across Route 114 from the college, must join the town in supporting it. Both the college and the apartment complex have participated in meetings with state officials, the senator said.
Tarr said he has been told the road safety audit will likely take place in November.
“We’re making progress,” he said.
Selectmen Chairwoman Rosemary Connelly Smedile noted that three major highways, Routes 114, 125 and 133, come together near Merrimack College.
Tarr was accompanied by Reps. Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen, and James Lyons, R-Andover, as well as Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport, who represents the other four precincts in the town.
DiZoglio represents five North Andover precincts while Lyons’ district takes in the other three.
Ives said she hopes an upgraded pedestrian crossing will make conditions “more realistic for bicycle travel.”
Noting that North Andover’s legislative delegation is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, Lyons said it’s “nice to have people working together.”
“Have you been to Washington lately?” asked Selectman Tracy Watson, noting the standoff between the two parties that has resulted in shutting down the federal government.
Asked how long it will take to bring about a safer pedestrian crossing, DiZoglio said, “Probably longer than we’d like.”
Tarr said he’s confident it won’t take all that long for the project to be completed.