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Is Oak Hill Road Safe?

Two major accidents in the past week on this key Nabnasset road pose questions about its safety.

 

For those who may have missed it, there was a serious car accident on Oak Hill Road near the last night, and another serious accident near , near the corner of Oak Hill Road and Route 40.

While it's a key roadway in Nabnasset and a vital link between the center of town and all points north, with these two accidents in such rapid succession, today we ask if you think the road is safe.

Should there be a different speed limit on Oak Hill Road? Maybe more signs? Or are these accidents isolated incidents? What about asking state legislators to change Mass. Department of Transportation policies on the ?

These are the questions everyone is asking this morning, and today we want to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

R Gagnon August 30, 2012 at 10:25 AM
Oh Nooooooooo! Not another light!!!!! How about a bit of courtesy and consideration. How about not accelerating when you see someone attempting to pull out or turn in order to make sure nobody gets in front of you. How about actually stopping at a stop sign. When they put up a traffic light at RT40 and Depot St, I was all for it because of the limited line of sight to the east of the intersection. But at RT40 and Oak Hill, you can see a quarter mile in both directions. No reason for a traffic light except to force people to do what they should be doing anyway. Excercising courtesy and common sense.
anne dempsey August 30, 2012 at 11:16 AM
I agree, exercising courtesy and common sense is key and adding a traffic light is not the solution. Let's add SLOW DOWN. Route 40 is no longer a quiet scenic highway. Vehicles are travelling at or most often above the posted speed of 40 mph. With Rte. 40's increasing traffic volume and congestion especially in areas of businesses ( Ace Hardware, Rapid Refill, and Dunkin Donuts) as well as the Stony Brook School area, lowering the speed limit MAY be the starting point. This is the time for the Town of Westford to petition the State for lower speed limits on Route 40 through Westord.
Sam August 30, 2012 at 12:10 PM
An accident like the one shown above does not happen when people just make a mistake about who is next in queue at that intersection. This happened because someone just ran straight through the intersection. That could happen with a light there as well.
Andrea August 30, 2012 at 12:47 PM
The reason why there are accidents is because drivers don't follow the rules of the road. It seems that drivers forget who has the right of way at a four way stop and at the major intersections on route 40. A traffic light is not a solution every time there is an accident. I do think that 30 miles an hour approaching an intersection is fast enough, we were taught to slow down at intersections in driver's ed, anyway.
Ben 01886 August 30, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Soundsike you don't have to deal with this every day. People taking a left on to oak hill rd. will give up their right of way and wave folks taking a left on to rt40. Then they get nailed by someone traveling west On rt40 where they have a lane to pass on the right. How about people that are too afraid to take their right of way? A light would fix this problem
Dick August 30, 2012 at 01:23 PM
That whole intersection needs serious design changes. Left,and right turns from Oak Hill is next to impossible in the A.M. and P.M. Speed thru that section is unacceptable also.
joseph mcgruff August 30, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Accidents happen because dirvers are sucky now-a-days...seriously, lets get back to discussiung MORE important issues in Westford, like stopping kids from 'grinding' at school dances OR building more unmanned fire stations! If you never speed, you'll never get a ticket, Go Grey Ghosts!
Kendra Kilsdonk August 30, 2012 at 02:34 PM
I have to agree with Ben. I live very close to the Oak Hill/40 intersection and go throught it several times a day, it is a mess. This isn't the first serious accident that has happened there. The Rapid Refill station is very busy, particularly with Dunkin Donuts in there. That, on top of the commuters using 40 (often at high speed) to get to and from Rt 3 makes it a heavily used intersection. The retail entrance being right across from Oak Hill makes for a very confusing intersection, as it's not a straightfoward 4 way stop. Much as I don't want another light to deal with, I've felt for a long time that we need one there Near the Country Club? Not so much, I'm guessing someone did something stupid to cause that accident, that's not a particularly difficult section of road to navigate. Right of way is on Oak Hill and there are stop signs on Moore and Nabnasset street and it isn't as heavily travelled.
gail f smith August 30, 2012 at 05:21 PM
I live on the end of Oak Hill. The cars fly right up to crossroads at the end. Awful inconsiderate drivers. Slow down people!!!!
katie August 30, 2012 at 05:24 PM
I wish people would stop having rural dreams for this town. Accept it. You live in a suburban community with traffic and traffic lights, retail stores that include commercial signage, main roads with commuters and 40mph roads. Stop trying to pretend to be in Concord with it's American history and strict rules or that this is Dunstable and you need cars to slow down so you can ride your horse into town. It's not realistic. If these are the things you think you live in Westford for, I'm thinking you weren't paying attention when buying your home. Sure, maybe some people who want these things have been here for 20+ years when these transitions really started to surface but change is reality here and you have to adapt to it. In this case, that means putting in a traffic light to ensure the safety of everyone involved no matter how inconvienient in may be on a personal level or if it makes your town seem a little more urban and a little less rural.
Ben 01886 August 30, 2012 at 07:28 PM
I agree. There is an engineering issue here. People heading west bound on rt40 that are turning left on oak hill rd. have to stop way back where the white line is. It has been my observation that almost everyone taking the left on to Oak Hill Rd. cut across the end of Oak Hill, across all 3 lanes where it intersects with Rt 40. I believe that an intersection with the stop line (on rt 40 for people turning left) so far back from where you should cut your wheels to turn is designed to have a light. I also believe that people are afriad to make this left hand turn because they can not figure out how to do it without cutting across the end of Oak Hill Rd. This is when people wave you out of Oak Hill Rd. I know that people have been life-flighted out of this intersection as a direct result of people not managing the right of way. The only way to fix this is a traffic light.
Dee August 30, 2012 at 08:26 PM
As a Nab resident, I travel Oak Hill frequently. The road is fine, it's the drivers who don't stay on their own side of the road, fly across it in the Country Club area like it isn't even there, and go around anyone the second they slow down to be courteous to a pedestrian or other driver. To everyone on our winding roads: STAY ON YOU OWN SIDE OF THE ROAD even if you don't see anyone coming towards you YET.
Alisa August 31, 2012 at 06:55 AM
I travel the intersection daily, and it's tough getting onto Route 40 from Oak Hill Road. During the asphalt plant hearings, McMahon Transportation Engineers & Planners submitted reports on behalf of us residents, and identified the Route 40 / Oak Hill Road intersection as a "high hazard intersection" and "above-average crash location". The traffic studies at that time also indicated that average travel speeds were notably higher than the posted 35 mph limit. The studies recorded speeds of up to 50 mph. I wish our police department would regularly plant one of those speed limit display trailers near the intersection.
R Gagnon August 31, 2012 at 10:59 AM
Our police department regularly plants an officer in a cruiser at or near that intersection. Naturaly, I'm a very safe driver and not a part of the problem at that intersection in any way, but knowing that a LEO might be lurking in the area makes it all the more likely that I won't roll the stop sign. It would be interesting to know how many citations are handed out in that area as a result of the police presence. Return on investment, so to speak.
Chris Daley August 31, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Yeah, I'm not in Colorado anymore, at least for now. I know what a small town is, not referring to a resort either. Wide straight roads and streets on the eastern plains where time seems to stand still with the grain elevators, rail crossing and a slow pace. Westford is greater Boston frenzy, run by people who pretend to be reformers and your friend, but cling to their pedestals of power, crying poverty.
Chris Daley August 31, 2012 at 11:49 AM
I agree. Seems like most newcomers in denial. I went to high school here in the 1960s with bullies, JFK era and learning to drive on narrow, curving spaghetti-like roads. Ice and salt season coming again... When I return East from the high country and Southwest I ALWAYS feel run over, smothered by the unruly attitude here. Bad roads by bad govt=bad driving I say. OK I survive Rte 225 bridge issue and I occasionally venture into Minot's Corner chaos, you just gotta take it easy folks, my anonymous neighbors and townies, plus jobbers, truckers, soccer moms, upper crust types and twenty-somethings that fill our roads! And Hildreth St. is NOT A FREEWAY, people walk, bike and live here. I'm taking care of my Mom. Take responsibility and be courteous. And govt works for us we dont work for them! Fix our roads!
katie August 31, 2012 at 03:13 PM
I'm glad everyone has such a high opinion of their own driving ability. Would your passengers, neighbors, and those with official opinions agree? It's not likely things are as perfect as they seem in your own mind. The majority of people think they are great drivers when it's better to just admit that no one is perfect. I can say with some confidence that we've likely all rolled through a few stop signs, driven a little faster than we should have and by all accounts put ourselves or others in some sort of danger. Ever talk on your phone, change the radio station, have a quick snack, or rush through a yellow light because where you have to be is too important for you to stop for another light cycle? If you've ever done any of these things, among many others, then you probably shouldn't have such a high self assessment of your driving. No one is perfect. No one.
Chris Daley August 31, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Yes I'm pretty good, and yes I've made mistakes, but there's no violations on my record. And I gotta survive crossing the continent. Experience counts too. This area has a bad attitude, crowded, wet roads, obliterated signs by tree neglect, just obnoxious speeding, tailgating, PUSHY, noisy, unsafe construction zones with signs placed too close to hazard ahead; it takes 241 feet stopping distance at 55 mph to stop for those who race ahead cutting in line, and/or the motionless backup in the path. The road crews, police and bureaucracy maintain a unrealistic expectation on this-how do you spell PILE UP? Big Dig, toll stops, crazed insanity. Unsafe conditions are physical, not just behavior. I need my space! I've driven a truck and taxi in Denver, taken Ryder and Nat'l Safety Council classes. I dont text, phone either. Happy Labor Day I'm staying home.
R Gagnon August 31, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Relax katie, I was just kidding about my driving. I find myself adhering to the rules of the road and being more cautious when I am on my motorcycle. That's because when a bike and a car collide, the bike risk to the driver and passenger is enormous. I am a careful driver anyway but I should be just as conscientious when driving a car. Survivability does play a part.
Anne Shirley September 01, 2012 at 01:24 AM
I agree that development in Westford is inevitable, being so close to two major highways. I would like it better if it stayed more rural, but I know that's not going to happen. My first house was in Malden, and as long as Westford doesn't get as built up as Malden was in my lifetime, I should be happy. By the way, the drivers here are about 100 times more courteous than the drivers in Malden were. That's one of the things I really like about living here. No one honks at you for yielding at a yield sign (in my experience).
Amy R. September 01, 2012 at 01:28 AM
I've often thought a light should be put up there but due to the fact that you can see for quite some distance both ways on Rte. 40 before exiting Oak Hill it may be more prudent to put a light up at an intersection where you can't see around corners like the intersection of Town Farm/Abbott and Firge Village. I don't think the people coming down Forge Village from the Center realize the speed limit is only 30. That intersection now heavy with students going to school is like taking your life in your hands. Maybe the Town can do some tree/shrub maintenance down there or maybe the police can have an Officer sit there as a visible deterrent.
Tom September 01, 2012 at 10:40 AM
Ever since I moved into Nab, I've wanted to ask someone: what is the deal with the white line on Rt. 40? That is *not* where one stops to make a left turn (at least not that I've ever observed driving in the rest of the country). Is it law that we have to stop there in Westford? If so, why? If not, what is the line doing there? It seems that having a non-standard intersection design can't help matters.
Kendra Kilsdonk September 01, 2012 at 12:27 PM
You actually can't often see well coming off of Oak Hill onto 40. I make a right off Oak Hill onto 40 to get to work every morning. Most days, I cannot see to the left, to watch for cars heading east, because someone is in an SUV next to me, wanting to make a left and they inch up and inch up so that they block my view of the eastbound traffic. So, I can't make my right until they make their left. They can see the traffic going both ways just fine, so I'm not sure why they have to inch up past my car. I'm patient enough, so I wait them out, but I can really see someone being frustrated, making the right without visibility of the eastbound traffic and BAM. Wonder if that's ever happened.
Kendra Kilsdonk September 01, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Oh, and the problem we'd have with a light at Oak Hill/40 is that it would increase the traffic on the, already dangerous (due to how narrow it is), Forrest St (and maybe even Lake Shore Drive North). People coming from Westford, wanting to go west on 40 would, naturally, use Forrest to avoid the light. And, people coming from the Groton area, wanting to head into Westford would use Forrest the other way. People already speed down Forrest St, avoiding that intersection. I wait for a school bus on Forrest in the morning and some of the driving is terrifying, given that the road narrows to the point where you can just barely fit two cars, even when there is no snow, trees right into the road. Do you put a "No through traffic at rush hours" sign, like you see in other towns? Don't know how they enforce that. It's just not a good situation. Maybe it would help to move the retail entrance away from the intersection, but I don't know how you'd do that.
Bev September 03, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Northern Middlesex Council of Governments also studied this intersection and determined that it has a high crash rate and it is on the region's high crash list. This intersection met state and federal warrants for installing a traffic signal. There was another very serious accident about four years ago which left a neighborhood resident with permanent head injuries.

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