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The 'Alarming Accident Rate' at Intersection of Routes 9 and 20

The chief of police asks the highway director to take action. Twenty-eight accident investigations have occurred this year alone so far.

This month, Police Chief Mark Leahy issued a letter to Ronald E. Dionne, the district highway director of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Leahy, in his letter, urged Dionne to assist the police, and town, in reducing the number of accidents that have escalated since Northborough Crossing has opened.

Below is Leahy's letter to Dionne:

Dear Mr. Dionne,

I am writing to you concerning an alarming accident rate on the ramps at the intersection of Route 9 and 20 in Northborough. While this has always been a high accident area, the impact of the new Northborough Crossing shopping complex and Avalon Northborough apartment community has sent these statistics skyrocketing.

Of the greatest concern are the 28 accident investigations we have conducted between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year at the top of the on-ramp from Route 20 to Route 9 West, where there is a stop sign and no acceleration lane entering onto Route 9 West. Six people were injured in these collisions. These accidents are all rear-end collisions when people either don’t expect to encounter a stop sign at the top of an entrance ramp, or they stop properly, start to go and then hesitate and stop, only to be struck by the vehicle behind who thought they had departed. Beyond the 28 investigations we conducted, another 23 were reported to us after the fact and the motorists exchanged information between themselves and did not call us.

The off-ramp from Route 9 West to Route 20 West saw another eight collisions, all rear-enders at the stop sign at the end of the off-ramp. An additional 10 collisions were reported to us after the fact and did not seek a police response.

There were 12 additional crashes on/at the other ramps at this interchange, for a total of 81 collisions in the first six months of 2012.

The lack of an acceleration lane when traffic attempts to join Route 9 West from Route 20 is our biggest problem, yet our most easily fixed. Land exists to construct an acceleration lane in this location, with an accommodating grade and little clearing required.

The collisions that occurred at the bottom of the off-ramp from Route 9 West to Route 20 West is easily fixed by bringing the ramp to a “T” at Route 20 and installing a traffic control signal. This would help eliminate the considerable traffic backups that occur there every afternoon.

I am writing to ask for help in reducing these avoidable collisions and I will gladly assist you in any way possible. All accident reports have been assembled for easy review.

Dorothy Rietzel August 27, 2012 at 02:25 PM
There is a set of lights at the intersection of Routes 9 and 20. When the light is red, motorists stop and go through the red light. When there are red arrows, they do the same thing. The last time I heard, red lights and red arrows is an indication to stop unless there is a sign that reads "Right Turn on Red After Stop Only." There is no such sign. I can't figure out if it's okay to go through the red lights. If I wait for the light to turn green, other motorists beep to make me move. What is the correct procedure?
Bob Weir August 27, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Who was the genious who elimated the two on ramps to Rt 9 from Rt 20, causing delays at traffic lights to cross over oncoming lanes and then forcing everyone to use one ramp only in each direction, overloading and crowding them? No wonder accidents have increased.
Bob MacKinnon August 27, 2012 at 03:24 PM
The easiest way to avoid traffic accidents right now is to cut the tall grass obstructing the view of traffic at the stop signs on Route 20 from Route 9. They also need to change the signals heading on Route 20 West past the route 9 underpass that are now green circles. They need two green arrows straight and a blinking red arrow for the left turn onto route 9 East that changes to a green left arrow when the oncoming traffic is stopped on Route 20 East. A driver in a hurry will not read the sign under the green light that says to yield to on coming traffic (that is a death trap waiting to happen).
Matt August 27, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Another traffic light? I guess common-sense driving is less attractive.
Bob Weir August 27, 2012 at 08:31 PM
If they had not taken the ramp out that allowed you to go east on nine from Rt 20 West we WOULDN'T need to change the light on rt 20 West past route 9 that makes you cross over the oncoming traffic because it was NEVER there!
Jodi August 28, 2012 at 01:27 AM
I have no idea why they eliminated the "cloverleaf" at that intersection considering the expected increase in traffic. Anyone could tell you that accident rates would increase with increased traffic and forcing drivers to make left hand turns across traffic to get on rt 9! I have avoided this area since they changed it.
J August 31, 2012 at 11:20 AM
The law in Mass. is and most states right on red is ok unless otherwise posted, it was changed from the way you mentioned about ten years ago.
J August 31, 2012 at 11:24 AM
Also it is a mess at the two places they have two stop signs and traffic making a left turn from the gas station.

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