Buses, cars stuck from Salem crossroads | local news

SALEM – A trio of vehicles have become a controversial traffic circle downtown this week, in incidents that officials chalked up to a driver’s fault.

From Wednesday to Thursday, two public transit buses and a car got stuck in makeshift gutter-like channels in a roundabout under construction at the intersection of Chestnut, Norman and Summer streets, Salem’s director of public works Dave Knowlton confirmed.

According to reports from neighbors in the area, the latest incident took place around 6 am and it took more than three hours for the bus to finally save itself from the entanglement.

The events have sparked renewed discussion on the safety of Roundabout, which existed as a temporary pilot project that began in early 2019. Many residents have opposed the replacement of the former four-way-stop intersection, suggesting it poses a danger to pedestrians, but officials – and other residents – also support the roundabout, saying it has prevented the intersection. Let’s make things safer for all the users.

The crew is working to make the change in the congregation permanent. This includes stone curbing, islands to protect pedestrians in crosswalks, and a raised center island with a concrete ramp that allows larger vehicles – buses, fire engines, etc. to drive through – if necessary. Drive to Center Island to turn left.

Going Thursday, there was asphalt and curbing, but separating them was an empty 6- to 10-inch channel that would soon be filled with concrete. According to Knowlton, that concrete center would become the ramp for the island.

“The drivers overnight weren’t paying attention and they got too close to it, and a tire fell in,” Knowlton said. “This is a construction-related issue, and (the crew) are now working with the police to figure out how to prevent vehicles from using that intersection.”

Salem Police Lieutenant John Burke said the detour involved vehicles turning south on Summer Street and, once they hit the intersection, attempting to turn left onto Norman Street toward Washington Street. Instead, for now, they’ll drive straight and stay on Summer Street, and then turn left onto Gedney Street, which is between the US Post Office and Riley Plaza at Steve’s Quality Market.

Burke said the detour would be turned back once the concrete ramp was completed. Knowlton estimates that to be about a week, possibly longer.

“They’re going to set up cones and barriers to do that,” Knowlton said. “We really can’t keep people turning left in the traffic circle.”

Contact Dustin Luka at 978-338-2523 or DLuka@salemnews.com. Follow him on facebook.com/dustinluca or Twitter @DustinLucaSN.

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