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Tufts promises improvements at Somerville accident site

Posted by Jarret Bencks  November 20, 2012 11:16 AM

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Jarret Bencks

Tufts student Michael Reading crosses Packard Avenue, the site of a serious pedestrian accident Nov. 8.

A Somerville intersection where a serious pedestrian accident occurred earlier this month has been decked with new safety features and Tufts University has hired a consultant to study it.

Boston-based transportation and traffic engineering firm Vanasse, Hangen, Brustlin will review the intersection of Powderhouse Boulevard and Packard Avenue and recommend safety improvements, the university said in an announcement Monday. Significant safety improvements - some that will require construction - will be done at the intersection next spring, the announcement said.

A 21-year-old Tufts students was critically injured when he was struck by an SUV as he tried to cross the intersection about 8:30 p.m. Nov. 8. He remained hospitalized Tuesday, but had been taken out of intensive care, Somerville Deputy police Chief Paul Upton said.

In an effort to improve safety until then, the city of Somerville and Tufts added new safety measures to the intersection this week, including four new signs warning drivers of a pedestrian crossing, reflective strips on preexisiting signs and restricted parking near the corner of the intersection, the announcement said.

Michael Reading, a second-year graduate student at the Fletcher School, crosses the intersection regularly walking to class. Standing on the sidewalk on Packard Avenue Monday, he said more improvements were needed.

"This intersection is inexcusably dangerous," he said.

Somerville officials previously said the intersection had been a safety concern in the past, but wasn't considered one of the city's most dangerous. The Nov. 8 accident remains under investigation, Upton said.

The transportation firm will begin a study of all streets along the edge of the Tufts campus after it makes recommendations for Packard Avenue and Powderhouse Boulevard, the announcement said.

Jarret Bencks can be reached at bencks.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on twitter @JarretBencks.


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