Rochester Residents Attempting to Change Dangerous Intersection
A group of concerned residents in Rochester are hoping to lobby the Commonwealth into helping in some way with one of the SouthCoast’s most notoriously dangerous intersections.
The intersection of Walnut Plain Road and Mary’s Pond Road was the scene of a crash on Monday, just a little over a month after a March 29 crash at the same spot claimed the life of 76-year-old Bruce “Lumpy” Leonard, a SouthCoast icon who had owned and operated Wareham’s Cape Cod Choppers for more than 50 years. Also seriously injured in that crash was Leonard’s son, Anthony.
Those are just the latest in a long history of crashes at that intersection.
“It’s been going on since I was in high school, so you’re talking 25-30 years, and we’re really trying hard to get something done to help us,” said Rochester resident Melissa Farias. “People say nothing's ever going to get fixed so why bother, so we’re just trying to start a grassroots movement to do something at that intersection to make it a little bit safer.”
Farias said the layout of the intersection makes it inherently difficult to navigate.
“It’s more of a slanted-x intersection instead of a nice square cross where you have good visibility,” she said. “It’s only a two-way stop…can we somehow get a four-way stop here so that you’re doing something to make it easier around that area? Or even a sign that says a stop is coming, but there are some visibility issues at that intersection.”
She acknowledged that drivers themselves are also to blame in many of the crashes, but that shouldn’t preclude an attempt to make the intersection as safe as possible.
“You’re always going to have poor drivers. You’re always going to have people that text and drive,” Farias said. “But this is not just a texting and driving situation, it goes back before texting was a thing.”
There have been other attempts to get four-way stops at SouthCoast intersections that did not get adopted by the Commonwealth. New Bedford Ward 2 City Councilor Maria Giesta tried to get a four-way stop at an intersection in her ward, which already had a two-way stop, and was denied.
“I was told there needed to be five accidents in 12 months in order to get a four-way stop sign,” Giesta said, noting that it is a state law. “Stop signs are not used for speed control, so that’s why it’s difficult to get four-way stop signs.”
Even knowing the likelihood of the intersection being changed to a four-way stop is slim, Farias and others in Rochester are still going to give it a go.
“We have to try,” Farias said. “If we all feel strongly about it, we at least have to try to get some kind of safety remedy to help us.”
According to Rochester Police Chief Robert F. Small, Jr., there have been attempts in the past to alleviate the danger of that intersection, but the Commonwealth didn’t push it forward.
“In recent years, the state has conducted surveys and declined the conversion of that intersection from a two-way stop to a four-way stop,” Chief Small told WBSM.
While it may be unlikely that the Commonwealth will change its position even in the wake of the recent crashes, Small said Rochester leaders are looking into other possibilities.
“At this time, the Town is researching several options to improve safety at that intersection and others,” he said.