Deerfield residents petitioning to fix ‘dangerous’ intersection

Matthew Baj signs a petition organized by Patricia Taylor, right, to have the Massachusetts Department of Transportation look at safety concerns regarding the intersection of Routes 5 and 10, Mill Village Road and North Main Street in Deerfield.

Matthew Baj signs a petition organized by Patricia Taylor, right, to have the Massachusetts Department of Transportation look at safety concerns regarding the intersection of Routes 5 and 10, Mill Village Road and North Main Street in Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Deerfield residents are petitioning the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to address safety concerns pertaining to the intersection of Routes 5 and 10, Mill Village Road and North Main Street.

Deerfield residents are petitioning the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to address safety concerns pertaining to the intersection of Routes 5 and 10, Mill Village Road and North Main Street. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 04-17-2024 3:23 PM

Modified: 04-17-2024 6:11 PM


DEERFIELD — With 12 crashes between 2021 and 2023 and likely an even greater number of close calls at the intersection of Routes 5 and 10, North Main Street and Mill Village Road, two residents have launched a petition asking the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to look into their concerns about the “dangerous” intersection.

Led by longtime residents Patricia Taylor and Wayne Manley, the petition had already garnered more than 70 signatures by Monday morning and more were coming, as Taylor spent a few hours on Patriots’ Day gathering more support.

“I think some people would like to see [a stoplight]. I think some people would like to see a little rotary,” Taylor said on the Deerfield town common. “I just want see something change so it’s safer.”

There have been at least 12 vehicle crashes at the intersection from 2021 to 2023, according to the Deerfield Police Department, and Police Chief John Paciorek Jr. said MassDOT has been working closely with the town on the intersection and other matters, such as the installation of new sidewalks on Sugarloaf Street last year.

Paciorek said several options, including a rotary/roundabout, traffic signal and dedicated turning lanes are being explored. He said the Police Department will keep residents updated as more information becomes available.

In a statement, MassDOT said it is in talks with Deerfield officials, and resident feedback will be collected if the agency moves forward with any work. MassDOT’s IMPACT data portal shows there have been roughly 31 crashes in the area from 2014 through May 2023. It should be noted that MassDOT’s online database does not always include all records and the agency makes “no representation as to the accuracy, adequacy, reliability, availability or completeness of the crash records.”

“MassDOT is working with the town of Deerfield to explore options for the intersection of Routes 5 and 10, Mill Village Road and North Main Street,” the agency stated. “Discussions are ongoing with town officials to consider initiating a project to improve this intersection. Should a project be initiated, MassDOT will engage residents and stakeholders throughout the design process with public hearings and information meetings.”

The petition campaign began after Taylor made a post in December on Deerfield Now, the community’s unofficial Facebook group, where she shared her experience trying to turn left onto Mill Village Road. She explained she could not see because it was dark and someone in the other lane was turning left and blocking the intersection, all while a car behind her was honking its horn, urging her to go.

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The experience “terrified” her and made her think about what could have happened if she had turned while traffic was whipping by, as well as what could happen if a younger, inexperienced driver — such as her children — was in the same situation.

On that same post, Manley had commented he had visited the MassDOT District 2 office in Northampton to raise similar concern. The two soon connected and wrote a letter to MassDOT, Deerfield officials and local legislators. The agency responded and said it would look into the intersection, especially if it could get a consensus on the concerns from community members.

The other issue, Taylor explained Monday, is the increasing amount of traffic in town, especially as big businesses like Tree House Brewing Co. have set up shop in recent years alongside the long-established Yankee Candle.

“I love Tree House, but it’s been bringing in more and more traffic,” Taylor said, underlining the main issue with the intersection is when vehicles are waiting to turn left and other drivers are going around on the right side: “You can’t see.”

Manley, a Mill Village Road resident, said there has been a lot of community support for the petition — he spent the morning of March 30 at the Transfer Station to gather signatures — and a lot of people have had similar experiences near that intersection.

“Everybody seemed to be on board and agreed one of the biggest things is when cars are coming south on [Routes] 5 and 10 to turn onto North Main Street or coming north on 5 and 10 to make the left turn onto Mill Village Road,” Manley added in a phone interview on Tuesday. “Cars stop there to make that turn, but you’re actually creating a screen where other cars going by you on the right can’t see cars that are making turns in the other direction.”

Judy Ruggles, a resident signing Taylor’s petition on the town common on Monday, said she is completely in favor of MassDOT taking a look at the intersection because “it is dangerous.”

“I would like to see a light. … It’s just dangerous,” Ruggles said, joking that sometimes you just need to “hold your breath, close your eyes and pray you get across” the intersection safely.

Manley, too, said he would personally prefer a traffic light, but anything that could make the intersection safer would be welcome.

“I’d much rather put up lights than see someone get hurt or killed,” Manley said. “This is a safety factor that affects all of us and I just want to see something done, so nobody gets hurt. That’s our goal.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com.