, Newburyport, MA

November 1, 2012

'Roundabout' coming to nettlesome Newburyport intersection

Newburyport Daily News

---- — NEWBURYPORT - City and state officials today are scheduled to announce a $1 million construction project near the Hines Bridge that will be known as the Spoffard Roundabout.

The project is part of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Small Bottleneck Grant Program.

The roundabout will be designed to improve traffic flow near the intersection of thoroughfares including Merrimac Street, Mosely Avenue and Spofford Street. Engineers will also consider the entrance road to the park at Moseley Woods.

DOT officials said that the program funds projects at about $1 million that do not score high enough to qualify for federal funding “but would result in significant improvements for the local economy, quality of life, safety and commute times.”

“I am very pleased with this contract, because we put a lot for work into it,” said state Rep. Mike Costello, D-Newburyport. “It’s a special pilot program, where the state actually gives the money to the city to design and build it, at no expense to the local taxpayer.

“Mayor Holaday had her ducks in a row, and that is likely why the contract came here. There are only two others like it in the state.”

The project has been discussed for years, and funds were included in the $32.5 billion budget that Gov. Deval Patrick signed in the spring.

The intersection has a somewhat notorious reputation for its unusual traffic flow and the confusion it can cause. Cars coming from the Amesbury direction have the right of way to take a sharp left turn toward Newburyport, across two other intersecting roads. And more than a few times in the past several years, cars have collided head-on with the stonewall in front of Moseley Woods, their drivers apparently unaware that the road takes a sharp left or sharp left here.

City officials say the intersection will host a “roundabout” rather than a “rotary.”

A roundabout is used for slower traffic, while a rotary is placed in locations with vehicles traveling at higher speeds.

Costello commented, “A roundabout will make driving easier for those who travel across the river.

“It should lessen the feeling of impending doom that you sometimes face when we are traveling there, and aren’t sure who has the right of way.”