Residents Have Their Say On The Preliminary Study
Zig-Zag at Marlborough Road Does Not Impress
By William Legault
An estimated crowd of 200 concerned Salem residents, along with a few out of town citizens attended a meeting conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation detailing the preliminary plans for improvements to the Route 107 Corridor or Highland Avenue as it is more commonly called. This preliminary plans were developed by MassDOT in conjunction with a working group comprised of local elected officials, appointed board members, and business representatives.
A sparse attendance of elected officials included Senator Joan Lovely, Representative Paul Tucker, Councillor at-Large Elaine Milo, Ward 3 Councillor Steve Lovely, and Ward 4 Councillor David Eppley.
Representative Tucker led off commentary by addressing those in attendance, saying “This is a forum for discussion. Your input is more important than anything else we are going to hear.”
The current preliminary plan is in the second stage of an 8 stage process. Plans are expected to change in response to the public commentary. There will be opportunity down the road for further public input.
The scope of the project is broken down into three conceptual stages, Lynn (southern), Salem Retail (roughly the Lynn line to just past Hawthorne Commons), and the Southern (Salem) that extends to Boston Street. This route is inclusive of 15 intersections 13 of which are signaled, 3 bus routes containing 52 stops, and no bicycle lanes.
Plans currently call for three more traffic signals, including one off of the actual corridor at Swampscott Road and First Street. Also called for is a reduction of bus stops to 37 which each would be compliant with the American Disabilities Act, more evenly spaced along the corridor and more efficiently designed for pedestrian use.
Crosswalks will be added and improved with curb ramps and timed pedestrian signals included in all traffic signaling.
Additional turn lanes will be added as required, while some will be re-directed or eliminated. Traffic calming measures will be added.
There are no plans to withe increase or decrease the width of the corridor and there
fore no current intentions to take any land from property owners.
The guardrail which now runs along a large portion of the road will be eliminated and replaced with a “visually appealing” median. Buffered bike lanes would be installed along this same section. There is also some consideration being given to having a portion of the bike path run along the edge of the high school property.
The “zig-zag” pattern which exists as a result of traffic crossing from Marlborough Road to Swampscott Road would be retained, but marked lanes would re-route some traffic down Traders Way to First Street.
The intersection at Willson Street, the lower entrance to North Shore Medical Center, Dalton Parkway, and Boston Street would also see changes in lane markings and traffic signals.
Representative Tucker, Senator Lovely, and Councillor Lovely all spoke against retaining the zig-zag feature at Marlborough Road and encouraged further study as to options.
The comments from the public were strongly in opposition to the zig-zag concept itself and also to the intent to funnel additional traffic down to First Street. The proposed addition of a light at First Street and Swampscott Road was met with general approval.
The crowd was split on adding bike lanes with a few objecting saying that nobody would use them. Others however, did state that the bike lanes would be a positive addition which would get use.
Cineplex project questions were deflected by both MassDOT and Councillor Lovely. The proposal is currently held up by MassDEP.
One resident expressed concern that the new sidewalks would not be maintained properly by the city, especially in winter months.
The anticipated cost for this plan is $26 Million. MassDOT will release the final report on this stage (2) of the process by the end of September.