Signaling Change – Three Decades Later, Intersection at Mercy to Be Upgraded

Sr. Mary Caritas, SP had to almost shout to be heard above the noise of the traffic on Carew Street, but she obviously succeeded in her mission, based on the number of people nodding their heads in agreement as she spoke.

The former president of Mercy Medical Center, one of many officials gathered at a press conference staged near the Carew Street entrance to the facility on April 2, said it wasn’t long after a new medical office building opened there in 1988 that she started petitioning the city for new traffic signalization at that intersection.

By her count, she made seven formal requests for a full traffic light and was turned down each time.

But the dangerous conditions that prompted those requests persisted, and thus, a succession of leaders at Mercy continued to petition for change. And 30 years later, it is finally coming.

Indeed, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and Mercy Medical Center President Mark Fulco called the press conference to announce the redesign of the Carew Street entrance to Mercy, which will include new traffic signalization. 

The $1 million project was hailed by all those involved as a true public-private partnership that paved the way for a project that Caritas and others said was long overdue and would rid the city of one of its worst traffic hazards. Indeed, some of those who spoke, including Chris Cignoli, director of the Springfield Department of Public Works, recounted their own accidents or near misses at that intersection.

“This is another good example of my administration’s continued efforts to do public/private collaboration initiatives to enhance quality of public health and safety in our neighborhoods,” said the mayor. “This traffic light has been sorely needed for many years to give peace of mind to all the patrons of Mercy Hospital and our Carew Street neighborhood area.”

Added Fulco, “Mercy Medical Center’s commitment to providing a safe environment for our patients, their families, and our colleagues extends beyond the walls of our facilities. This new traffic signal is an important upgrade that will safely and efficiently manage vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic at this busy intersection.”

So infamous is the intersection, he went on, that when it was announced to staff at the medical center that the project had been finalized, applause filled the room.

Currently at the intersection is a flashing yellow signal for the north and southbound directions, and a flashing red signal for the east and westbound directions. No lane in any direction is designated for a specific directional movement. Installing a traffic signal at this intersection will improve safety for drivers attempting to turn left onto Carew Street by restricting movement in other directions through use of a red signal, said Cignoli.

Additionally, including a designated left-turn lane in the southbound direction on Carew Street, a designated right-turn lane in the westbound direction on Cass Street, and designated right-turn lane in the northbound direction on Carew Street, in the proposed redesigned intersection, is expected to provide the best operations for drivers using the intersection. 

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