Safety Improvements Coming to Powder House Circle in August

New intersection design aims for safer travel for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers

SOMERVILLE, MA – Improvements to Powder House Circle will be officially underway in mid-August as the City of Somerville makes a series of safety upgrades to benefit all road users. Powder House Circle is a high-crash intersection with an antiquated design. The City will convert the high-speed, chaotic rotary into a modern roundabout intersection using low-cost “quick-build” materials including pavement markings, signage, and flex posts.

Key design elements of the safety project include shortened crosswalks, relocated bus stops, and protected bike lanes. A single travel lane around the circle will reduce dangerous weaving behavior. The work will proceed as a quick-build project with no heavy construction, bringing immediate safety improvements to this intersection and allowing the City to plan more permanent changes like curb extensions and the addition of new green space. A full visual breakdown of the project can be viewed at somervillema.gov/PowderHouseCircle.

“This is Vision Zero in action,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, referring to the City’s strategic plan to eliminate crashes that result in severe injuries and fatalities. “Our community asks us to take bold and proactive steps to reduce risk at locations like Powder House Circle. This new design will make the intersection safer and more predictable for all users. It will also address a major barrier for Somerville families who wish to walk or bike to our wonderful public schools.”

One of the key elements of the new configuration is that pedestrians no longer will be able to cut through the center of the rotary, which stops vehicle traffic and increases the potential for pedestrians to be struck by motorists seeking to navigate the circle. A safer, more efficient pedestrian passage around the outer rim of the circle will be created.

For drivers, the new design should enable a steady flow of traffic at reduced speeds, limiting the potential for collisions. Cyclists will have their own separate lanes leading into and around the circle.

“Somerville residents have advocated for a safer, slower Powder House Circle,” said City Mobility Division Director Brad Rawson. “Our staff are excited to implement the community’s vision, and we’re working hard to complete these changes in time for the start of school this fall. I want to thank our stakeholders who have been engaged in this project and other safe streets initiatives in Somerville.”

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