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Changes on the Way for Dangerous I-91 Interchange in Holyoke

91 picHOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) — A dangerous intersection is on the road to becoming safer.

Transportation officials say the I-91 interchange onto Route 202 (Cherry St.) in Holyoke is in the top five percent of crash locations in Western Massachusetts.  Some of those crashes were deadly.

Thursday night, MassDOT announced traffic signals will soon be at the end of each off-ramp to make it easier for people to get where they’re going.

“There is four lanes of traffic you need to cut through and it’s tough sometimes, you just can’t get a break,” says Brian Allen.

He uses exit 16 to head to work.  It gets so busy each morning and afternoon, that sometimes he just goes another way to avoid the danger.  Allen is pleased help is on the way, in the form of traffic lights.

“I think it’s good news,” he says.  “I’ve always thought we needed one down there.”

Cynthia Watson says the changes will be a relief for the hundreds of people who use the Soldier’s Home.

“No more accidents,” she said.  “We have had a few and we don’t want anymore.”

One of those accidents happened in July of this year.  A 65-year-old woman was killed during an accident involving a tractor trailer.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation says, between 2009 and 2011, there were 85 crashes at the intersection.

“Left turns are one of the big crash problems that shows up in the crash data,” said DOT spokesman Richard Masse.  “Under this signal system, they’ll get a green light  [to] make the turn easier.”

The traffic signals at the end of the ramps will have sensors to prevent unnecessary red lights if no one is waiting to get off the highway exits.

MassDOT engineers say the project will also include widening and paving the roads, adding wheelchair ramps and crosswalks.  Their hope is the improvements cut down on the accidents, to bounce the interchange off the region’s top crash list.

The project will cost $1.1 million.  There is no timeline for when it will get underway.


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