The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 4, 2004


Town considers fixes for worst intersections

Carlisle's love of cars is evident in the recent census showing there are now 4,450 cars registered in a town with 1,663 homes, or 2.7 cars per household. Finding the right balance between traffic safety and automotive convenience is a challenge. On May 26, Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie, Police Chief Dave Galvin, Fire Chief Dave Flannery and DPW Superintendant Gary Davis presented to the Selectmen a preliminary proposal for improving traffic safety in Carlisle.

The group focused on five intersections they agreed are "the most dangerous in Carlisle."

West/South is #1 problem

The intersection of West Street and South Street stood out as the one most in need of re-engineering, due to limited sight lines leading to a high accident rate. According to Davis, a solution to the sight-lines problem will be quite expensive as there is substantial ledge that would have to be blasted out. Although not mentioned, the town's intent to site 26 units of affordable housing on the Benfield Land on South Street may have long-term implications for traffic at this intersection.

One-ways proposed

Participants suggested that the Church Street/Westford Street intersection, across from the fire station, could be solved at no real cost by making the short Church Street segment between Westford and Concord one-way eastbound, eliminating the problem of drivers turning left onto Westford Street from this narrow road with limited sight lines. It was proposed that the Proctor/Lowell problem be addressed with a one-way southbound on Proctor. Before either of these measures is taken, a public hearing will be scheduled, though Galvin noted, "Our past experience is, no one shows up for the hearing, then they spray-paint the [one-way] sign when it appears."

Orchard Acres/Lowell and Church/Concord would require funding to re-engineer poorly-designed intersections. A question regarding changing the entire length of Church Street to a one-way was greeted with reservations as it would force School Street traffic onto the rotary. "That's a pretty big step," said Selectman ChairTim Hult.

Questions were raised about intersections not on the list, including Westford at Lowell, East and Rutland, East and Bedford, and others. Accessing the dentist office and bank in the town center was also a concern. McKenzie advised the Selectmen to "rest assured, there are many more on the list once we deal with these."

Speed bumps no solution

Galvin reported that investigation into "traffic calming" technologies such as speed bumps had not proved promising. He said police chiefs "spoke very negatively" about these measures in their towns, citing costly damage to car suspensions and slower response times for emergency vehicles. He is considering a raised table type of traffic control — for example, a 7% grade with a 24 foot "table" between the up and down ramps — for Carlisle, but notes it may slow traffic at intersections, but does not reduce volume.

Hult applauded the initiative to improve safety and asked the group to return with cost estimates for the intersections that need re-engineering.

A hearing on the one-way proposals is planned for June 15.

Carlisles worst traffic intersetctions

daily volume
Accidents 1999-now
West Street 2,300 West, 1,100 South 9
Church Street at Westford Street 775 Church 2
Orchard Acres at Lowell Street 5,000 Lowell 3
Proctor Road at Lowell Street 5,000 Lowell


Chruch Street at Concord Street 4,800 Concord 4


2004 The Carlisle Mosquito