Traffic improvements considered for dangerous Middle/Main/Short Street intersection

February 23, 2024 By Carol Britton Meyer

The Traffic Committee recently reviewed the road safety audit (RSA) conducted by traffic engineers for the Middle/Main/Short Street intersection in Hingham Centre to address serious safety concerns.

The purpose of the audit — conducted by Vanasse & Associates –was to identify potential improvements to help make this intersection safer following numerous crashes and near-misses. This is a first step in determining whether change is necessary and feasible, and no decisions have yet been made. The Traffic Committee reports to the Select Board.

A number of alternatives were analyzed during weekday morning, weekday evening, and Saturday midday peak hours, also taking into consideration the many bicyclists who travel through the intersection and that the crosswalks don’t meet current Americans with Disabilities Act standards. The speed at which vehicles travel through this intersection is also a concern.

“Given the types of crashes that were observed in the RSA process and the traffic operations indicated in the [vehicle]capacity analysis, some type of alternate control to the existing two-way stop [is] anticipated,” according to a memorandum from Vanasse.

Both unsignalized and signalized intersection control, as well as a roundabout configuration, were reviewed.

Roundabout, signalization considered

As a result, Vanasse determined that while a roundabout alternative would provide the best improvements at that intersection based on a number of factors,  the installation of a signalized control with a Short Street left-turn lane would result in fewer property impacts and be less costly than installing a roundabout.

According to the audit, a majority of the crashes have occurred in June, “which may include a high percentage of out-of-town motorists who are typically traveling to the nearby beaches or heading to vacation areas along the coast who are unfamiliar with the local roadways.”

The audit also reports that in addition to unfamiliar drivers, inexperienced drivers may also be a contributing factor: “Many of the drivers using this intersection are young and inexperienced due to Hingham High School being half a mile to the south and this intersection being the main access route to the high school.”

Town Engineer JR Frey will continue to collect and review feedback and will report back to the Traffic Committee at a future meeting.  These meetings are open to the public and are posted on the town website.

If the decision is ultimately made through a public process to recommend specific changes, the town could seek possible grant funding to help cover the cost.

1 thought on “Traffic improvements considered for dangerous Middle/Main/Short Street intersection”

  1. People using the road make mistakes (like speeding, running stop signs and red lights, turning left in front of oncoming traffic), always have and always will. Crashes will always be with us, but they need not result in fatalities or serious injury.

    Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world – the intersection type with the lowest risk of fatal or serious injury crashes – (much more so than comparable signals). Modern roundabouts require a change in speed and alter the geometry of one of the most dangerous parts of the system – intersections. The reduction in speed to about 20 mph and sideswipe geometry mean that, when a crash does happen at a modern roundabout, you might need a tow truck, but rarely an ambulance. Visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or FHWA for modern roundabout FAQs and safety facts.

    The FHWA has been saying for over 20 years that signal intersections have TEN TIMES the fatality risk of modern roundabouts.


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