WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Thousands of drivers in western Massachusetts travel through rotaries every day. The 22News I-Team discovered they’re not just confusing, they can also be dangerous.
There are several rotaries in the Pioneer Valley.
According to data from the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, there were nearly 800 car crashes at nine of those rotaries between 2011 and 2013, which is the most recent data that’s available.
The 22News I-Team went through that data to examine which of those rotaries are the most dangerous. Two rotaries in West Springfield made the list, the Memorial Avenue Rotary and the North End Bridge Rotary.
West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt told the I-Team, those rotaries have been around since the 1950s.” They came from Europe, it's a European thing, and they brought them over here. Massachusetts was one of the earlier states to adopt them,” he said.
As traffic in West Springfield has increased over the years, so have car accidents in those rotaries.
According to the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, there were 31 car accidents at the North End Bridge Rotary in 2011, 31 in 2012, and 41 in 2013, making it the 4th most dangerous rotary in the Pioneer Valley. The Memorial Avenue Rotary had 19 car accidents in 2011, 13 in 2012, and 9 in 2013.
Mayor Reichelt said the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has made an effort to make the rotaries safer in recent years. “They replaced both of the bridges that go over Route 5, and then they restriped everything and relined it, and they did the same thing at the North End Bridge rotary. There's no bridges there, so they just restriped it,” he said.
Similar steps have been taken in Agawam, which is considered the most dangerous rotary in the Pioneer Valley, with 249 crashes between 2011 and 2013.
Gary Roux of the PVPC told the I-Team the restriping has helped reduce car accidents, but that won’t show up in the data for another couple of years.
The third most dangerous rotary in the Pioneer Valley is in East Longmeadow, where seven roads connect. There were 164 car accidents at the East Longmeadow Rotary between 2011 and 2013.
East Longmeadow Police Chief Jeffrey Dalessio told the I-Team, they’ve seen a significant number of crashes there over the years. “Last year, I believe we counted 21 at the intersection of Shaker and Maple alone,” he said.
Since the rotary isn’t state property, it’s up to the town to make any changes or improvements.
Chief Dalessio said they’ve recently placed traffic barrels on Maple Street to reduce the lanes from two to one. So far, it has already helped prevent accidents. “As of this date, we haven't had an accident at that intersection, since we put the traffic barrels there June 1st,” he said.
Dalessio also said if the town wanted to consider a more permanent solution, he wouldn’t rule out pavement markings.
According to data from the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, the second most dangerous rotary in western Massachusetts is on Armory Street in Springfield, where there were 53 car accidents in 2011, 50 in 2012, and 38 in 2013. The first most dangerous rotary is by the South End Bridge in Agawam, where there were 87 car accidents in 2011, 62 in 2012, and 100 in 2013.