Progress Report on Improvements to Pedestrian Safety around Campus

Category: Announcement

November 19, 2012

The thoughts and prayers of the entire Tufts community are with our injured student and his family. The investigation by the City of Somerville of that accident is ongoing. We expect that the results of that investigation will provide additional information to improve safety.

Tufts University has been working diligently with the cities of Somerville and Medford to improve pedestrian safety on the streets immediately adjacent to campus. Both Tufts and Somerville have prioritized this work to focus on the intersection of Powderhouse Boulevard and Packard Avenue, with the understanding that a comprehensive review of pedestrian safety for all streets immediately adjacent to campus is also needed.

Tufts has hired Vanasse, Hangen, Brustlin, (VHB), Inc., a professional transportation and traffic engineering firm, to conduct an engineering study of the Powderhouse Boulevard and Packard Avenue intersection in order to determine the best solutions to improve pedestrian, bike and driver safety. We anticipate that the study will be completed by mid-December of this year. Once we receive the study results, we will work with Somerville to ensure that the recommended improvements are completed as quickly as possible. We expect that some of the improvements will require construction work and will be undertaken in the spring of 2013.

Immediately after the study of the Powderhouse and Packard intersection is completed, VHB will undertake a more expansive review to encompass all streets immediately adjacent to and on campus in order to develop comprehensive recommendations to improve pedestrian, bike and driver safety. We will work closely with both Somerville and Medford to evaluate and implement those recommendations to improve safety in the area.

Completed Improvements

Last week, Somerville completed installation of the following additional measures to reduce traffic speed, increase driver caution, improve visibility and safety signage:

  • Radar Speed Indicator Feedback Sign on Powderhouse Boulevard traveling westbound, between Burnham and Packard;
  • Four additional stand alone pedestrian crossing signs in the center of the crosswalks on Powderhouse Boulevard:
    -Two signs at Powderhouse/Packard
    -One sign at Powderhouse/Leonard
    -One sign at Powderhouse/Burnham 
  • LED signal upgrades to provide brighter, more powerful illumination at the Powderhouse and Packard intersection; 
  • "No Parking Here to Corner" signs at the intersections of Powderhouse Boulevard and Packard, Leonard, and Burnham to improve sight lines for pedestrians and drivers
  • Additional "fluorescent" glow-sticks on sign posts on all approaches on Powderhouse Boulevard in the vicinity of Packard, Leonard and Burnham

Somerville Police have been aggressively enforcing traffic laws in the Powderhouse and Packard intersection and the adjacent area.

Information on additional pedestrian safety enhancements that were completed in the Spring of 2012 is available on the website of the Tufts Department of Public and Environmental Safety at:

Ensuring the safety of pedestrians, bikes and drivers is a top priority for Tufts University. We will provide periodic updates as new information becomes available so that our community is apprised of the progress of this effort. Please check the Public Safety website at for all information on efforts to improve pedestrian, bike and driver safety for the Tufts community.

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