METHUEN — Laura Levesque may have at first thought she was dealing with a classic case of “you can’t fight city hall” after months of requesting traffic enhancements that she worried fell on deaf ears.
On Monday night, however, Levesque and her neighbors near Hampshire Road and Salem Street — the site of 19 crashes in 16 months — received the good news that councilors and police Chief Scott McNamara heard their pleas. A four-way stop sign and four-way red flashing lights are coming to the intersection within the next 30 days.
“I’m so happy and relieved that this was approved and that this public safety issue is being addressed,” said Levesque, who brought the idea forward last spring after nearly being T-boned in a near-miss crash when a fellow driver drove through a stop sign. “I’d like to thank Councilor (Mike) Simard and Chief McNamara for taking my complaints seriously and for their assistance in making this happen. I’ve been pushing to get the data from the Police Department on the number of accidents over the years, because I knew it was high, but to hear 19 accidents in 16 months really puts things into perspective.”
Monday night’s City Council meeting was preceded by a public hearing at which residents and McNamara himself spoke in favor of the new traffic measures.
“From July 2020 until today, there’s been 19 accidents at that intersection, so that’s a persuasive argument that we need to do more,” McNamara said, adding that the Police Department worked at first with the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission on recommendations before the city’s engineering firm, TEC, conducted its own assessment. “TEC came up with the same assessment that more needs to be done, and there’s no opposition from the Police Department. We’re in full support of the measures.”
According to the police chief, a gradual transition that includes signage, pavement markings and officer education efforts will soon take place.
“Hopefully it will reduce the overall speed of travelers on that road,” McNamara said. “It’s not a panacea to the situation, but we can add to that by doing some extra enforcement. We’re not looking to raise revenue (by issuing tickets). We’re looking to make people safer.”