, Newburyport, MA

October 30, 2013

Busy 'roundabout' to be closed to all traffic Friday

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — NEWBURYPORT — The Spofford Road roundabout will be closed to all traffic Friday to allow for contractors to conduct a final paving that day, weather permitting.

The roundabout will continue to be closed to all vehicles larger than pickup trucks today and tomorrow. Prohibited vehicles include semi-trailer trucks, dump trucks, box trucks, boat trailers, delivery trucks, school buses, flatbed trucks, recreation vehicles and motor homes.

The truck restriction was established to allow contractors room to change out the cobblestones in the center of the roundabout and switch it to a stamped concrete surface. Concrete was poured Monday and yesterday but will need several days to cure, making the continued restrictions carry over until the end of the week, according to Mayor Donna Holaday’s office.

Signs have been posted to notify drivers of the truck restriction and will be updated later in the week to reflect the full closure on Friday, the mayor’s office added.

Despite scrapping the plans for a cobblestone center, the project continues to be under budget and on time. The change in the center’s surface has been approved by the state’s Department of Transportation, which has fully funded the roughly $1 million project, according to city officials.

The new roundabout, located at the convergence of Spofford Street, Merrimac Street and Moseley Avenue, replaces what had been a wide paved intersection that connected four roads. The intersection’s unusual traffic right-of-way pattern, and the abrupt end of Merrimac Street at a stone wall, had caused accidents.

Since it was opened to commuters late summer, the roundabout, located near the Chain Bridge and used by thousands of motorists daily, has generated plenty of negative reviews along with some positive feedback.

Motorists have complained that the roundabout is confusing with far too many signs, that it’s too narrow for snowplows and large vehicles, and it will lead to numerous flat tires and crumpled bumpers. Others have said it is a far more attractive and safer intersection now.