$2.8M roundabout touted to improve safety, ease traffic flow at Springfield Six Corners

By Peter Goonan | MassLive

SPRINGFIELD — City engineers shared details of a $2.8 million roundabout planned at the Six Corners intersection, telling residents at a neighborhood meeting that the design will improve traffic flow and safety.

Neighborhood leaders said that while there were questions and concerns voiced at the meeting, they believe the roundabout offers a unique strategy for reducing serious accidents and traffic congestion there.

The intersection of Alden, Ashley, Hancock and Walnut streets is at the boundary of the Old Hill and Maple High-Six Corners neighborhoods. The streets meet at angles producing six corners, giving the landmark its name.

“It’s one of the most dangerous intersections (in the region),” said Melvin Edwards, president of the Maple High-Six Corners Neighborhood Council. “The presentation suggests this will be a much safer operation than what exists now. What we have there now is not working.”

Barbara Gresham, president of the Old Hill Neighborhood Council, said her key concern is the safety of schoolchildren traveling on foot to Brookings Elementary School.

“They assured us that children crossing will be more safe at that point than they are now,” Gresham said.

The roundabout design calls for slower approach speeds, a reduction of turning movements and the elimination of left turns, and fewer vehicle-vehicle and vehicle-pedestrian “conflict points,” said Luca V. Mineo, civil engineer for the city’s Department of Public Works.

There will be a center island and “splitter” islands that allow pedestrians to cross one lane of traffic at a time rather than cross in two-way traffic, he said. There are options still under discussion regarding what is placed within the center island, he said.

The roundabout will provide entry points for six streets — Hancock Street (at two separate points), Walnut Street (at two separate points), Alden and and Ashley streets. The design calls for two significant land takings: the Sunoco gas station at 321 Walnut St. and a multifamily home at 17-19 Alden St.

There are two roundabouts in Northampton: one at the intersection of Route 9 and Bridge Road and the entrance to Look Park, and the other at Pleasant and Conz streets. Springfield officials said roundabouts have been very successful at many locations around the world for improving traffic flow and safety.

The roundabouts are not rotaries. Rotaries have higher speeds, significantly larger diameters, and have little or no deflection (raised splitter islands) at entrances and exits for the protection of pedestrians.

“In terms of safety, pedestrians and bicyclists, the project will be a significant improvement from the intersection’s current configuration,” Mineo said. “There is more time to react, the severity of accidents is significantly decreased, and with splitter islands, you cross one lane at a time.”

The design is nearing completion, and construction is expected to begin by early September and take one year to complete, Mineo said. Construction is funded by the MassWorks Infrastructure Improvement program. The design, which cost $232,000, was funded by federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds.

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