NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

September 3, 2013

New roundabout nearing completion

Dramatically changes decades-old traffic pattern near Chain Bridge

NEWBURYPORT — Since April, when work on the Spofford Road roundabout project began, motorists have endured lengthy delays, detours and road closures. But on the surface, the worst appears to be over as the roughly $1 million project has reached an important milestone.

With the recent installation of granite curbing forming the basis of a center island, motorists, for the first time, were able to envision what the roundabout will look like once completed.

The roundabout is expected to improve traffic flow and reduce safety concerns near the intersection of thoroughfares including Merrimac Street, Mosely Avenue and Spofford Street. Despite some concern that the roundabout will only make traffic worse in the western section of the city, Mayor Donna Holaday stressed that it will perform as advertised.

Holaday said work will soon shift to the installation of sidewalks and will continue until the end of the year when the project should be completed. The signage component of the project has been put out to bid, Holaday added.

City Marshal Thomas Howard said since the curb installation, there have been no major accidents, yet motorists are experiencing delays especially during work commutes as they get used to the new traffic pattern.

“Signage is obviously a problem creating some confusion but nothing major,” Howard said.

The roundabout already sports at least one “yield” sign and a “keep right” warning for motorists approaching the the traffic circle from Merrimac Street. On a recent afternoon around 1 p.m. traffic was light and there were no delays entering the roundabout.

The project is part of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Small Bottleneck Grant Program, and DOT officials said that the program funds projects about $1 million that do not score high enough to qualify for federal funding.

Holaday expressed her gratitude to nearby residents who have endured months of headaches as the city moves forward on what she called a very difficult project.

“It’s really coming together now,” Holaday said.

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