Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


August 23, 2012

Call renewed for light at intersection after couple killed

Clinical psychologist James Eckels put off patient appointments this week at his home office on Ballardvale Road while his nurse midwife spouse Jo Ann also cleared her calendar at a Lawrence health center.

The Eckelses were supposed to be vacationing this week with their three adult children and toddling twin granddaughters in New York.

But last Friday, Aug. 17, their car and another vehicle collided at Route 125 and Wildwood Road in Andover. The husband and wife both died.

The accident happened at peak commuter time — just after 5 p.m. —at what police say is one of the busiest intersections in town.

“We’re a destination community, and that means a lot of cars are leaving town at commuter time,” said Andover Police Lt. Jim Hashem. “There is a lot of high traffic volume during those hours.”

Barbara L’Italien of Andover, the former state representative who is running again for the seat, was a key advocate of more traffic lights for

Andover intersections on Route 125 — including one at Wildwood Road — about 10 years ago. Route 125 is a state-owned road so money from the state’s Department of Transportation was needed to pay for the traffic lights.

“There’s a history on Route 125 of speeding and a need for traffic lights,” said L’Italien, who was in the resulting traffic mess after Friday’s accident.

She said the town pushed for five traffic lights on Route 125 but only got three. Those three traffic lights are located at Hillside Road, Salem Street and Stinson Road. Traffic lights at Prospect and Wildwood roads were rejected, though blinking lights were installed at both crossings.

“I was told there was a lack of funding. The Big Dig was going on then and that’s why,” she said.

L’Italien lives on Gray Road and drives on Route 125 frequently, she said. Her autistic son often bike rides on Route 125.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Pictures of the Week