NEWBURYPORT — Local officials hope to complete repairs to a crucial stoplight at one of the city’s busiest intersections by the end of the month after it was struck by a car weeks ago.
Tony Furnari, director of the Department of Public Services, said the signal light and related pedestrian walk signals at the corner of Merrimac and Green streets have been out of commission since the pole was struck by a car that severed the bolts holding its mast arm.
As a result, the light’s base had to be removed using a jackhammer and replaced with a new one, which Furnari said “has taken some time.” He said the car also hit the ornamental light pole next to the stoplight.
The stoplight was temporarily hooked up until last week, but Furnari said in an email that the repair and reinstallation of the stoplight will “hopefully” be finished by the end of July.
He said the light would operate the same as it previously did, but will have new wiring that will solve past problems.
The driver’s insurance is covering the expenses, Furnari said, but he did not have a total cost for the project on hand.
Jennie Donahue, chair of the Newburyport Commission on Disabilities, noted on Tuesday that the intersection was the only one downtown that featured an accessible pedestrian system unit, or APS unit, which includes audible signals to help visually impaired people cross the street safely.
Donahue said she is “confident” the APS unit will return with the repaired traffic light. In the meantime, she suggested that pedestrians with visual impairments cross the street closer to Market Square.
“That’s a busy intersection and it’s the height of summer, so it’s a loss especially for people going to and from those parking lots,” Donahue said, referring to the lots on Green Street and next to the Black Cow restaurant.
“Hopefully, it’s not going to impact too many people with disabilities that do benefit from that APS unit and of course, the light,” she said. “In the interim, people are better off crossing at the main crossing near the bullnose. If they do have a disability, they need that extra assurance of cars being stopped.”
Staff writer Jack Shea covers Newburyport City Hall. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.