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Fellsway East and Highland Avenue Intersection Improvements

Malden

Background

The intersection of Fellsway East and Highland Avenue, along a heavily-traveled corridor used by commuters and local traffic, is characterized by several operational and safety issues and experiences a high number of crashes.   In the past, this intersection was ranked number 77 on the 2006-2008 Statewide Top 200 Intersections Crash List.  This intersection features an unusual oval in its center, suggesting an oblong rotary, but drivers on Fellsway East are not required to yield.  As a result, drivers from Highland are often stranded in the middle, waiting for a break in traffic. 

The strange layout and documented high crash rate prompted the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the City of Malden to fund a traffic study.  After considering several improvement options, the design team, with involvement from the community, chose a conventional traffic signal.

intersection design
Intersection design showing new crosswalks, curb extensions, bike lane, and traffic signal locations

Pre-Construction Coordination

DCR coordinated with the Malden Department of Public Works in summer of 2019 regarding City water lines before the intersection work began.  The City replaced water mains within the intersection before DCR mobilized its contractor in the fall.

DCR Construction Work

Before rebuilding the intersection, DCR’s contractor will need to coordinate with several utility companies to move their services away from the utility pole in the oval.  All services will be moved to a new pole on the side of the intersection.  The oval will be removed after the old pole is free of all utility cables.

In the interim, DCR’s contractor will excavate and install underground electric power for new traffic signal poles and new drainage.  The drainage work will include installation of new pipes and catch basins.  The contractor will also excavate to install the foundations for the new traffic signal poles.

After the underground work is complete, the contractor can remove old curbing (including all of the oval) and install new curb.  Finally, the contractor will install traffic signal poles and traffic signals.  After a short testing period, the traffic signal will be fully functional.

Project Challenges

Recognizing its importance during the commute, DCR has committed to keeping all directions open during the rush hours.  Any work that requires a detour will be conducted during off-peak times.

Working in this area, we expect to encounter solid rock (also called “ledge”) in some places where we excavate.  There will be no blasting, but we will need to chip away the ledge in a few locations to allow installation of underground conduit.  This work can be tedious, but it will be necessary to complete the project.

Project Benefits

This intersection improvement project will have several benefits for the community and park visitors:

  • Improved safety for all users within the intersection
  • Narrower roadway widths to reduce vehicle speeds
  • Six pedestrian crosswalks, all controlled by WALK signs
  • Curb extensions to reduce the lengths of crosswalks
  • New bike lanes on Fellsway East northbound.

Project Status and Schedule

DCR expects construction work to be substantially complete in the fall of 2020.

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