Work to double-track the rail lines through town is slowly nearing the end of the line, with the biggest hurdle — rebuilding one of Andover’s most troubled intersections — set to start this spring.
The downtown intersection of Railroad, Essex and Pearson streets, which also connects with Dundee Park and Lupine Road, will be shut down the weekend of May 17 to allow for the improvements, according to the Andover Police Department.
Richard Arnold, project manager for the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, said the work will aim to increase pedestrian safety and extend the sight lines for traffic stopped on Railroad Street, where a concrete wall now partly blocks the view of Essex Street.
The shutdown will mark the start of a pivotal point in the MBTA’s years-long project to run two continuous, parallel sets of track through Andover. The work is slated to be completed by the end of the year, Arnold said.
“Essex and Pearson is one of the larger components of the project that remain,” Arnold said. “We’ll be putting the second track through there and upgrading the drainage systems at the location.”
The new drainage will address flooding issues at the tracks, Arnold said. There will be no permanent changes to the existing station on Railroad Street or to private property, he added.
The work will do little to improve the driving conditions at the busy intersection, given the same roads will continue to feed through there. However, the MBTA is working with town officials to remove the concrete wall at the end of Railroad Street at Essex Street.
Now, drivers stopped on Railroad to turn onto Essex have trouble seeing over the wall as they check for oncoming traffic, Arnold said.
“There’s talk about taking that concrete wall out and putting up a railing system,” he said. “I think that will be a big help.”