CSX offers to help pay for signage
Westborough - Police Chief Alan Gordon said he received a nice surprise recently when he answered a call at his office and it was a representative from the railway conglomerate CSX off ering financial assistance for signage to help divert trucks from the beleaguered East Main Street bridge owned by CSX.
"That's never happened before, I can assure you of that," Gordon said. "Not in any town they own a bridge in. This is a first."
CSX representative Maurice O'Connell said the company decided to offer the financial donation because of the recent number of repeated instances of trucks being wedged beneath the bridge.
"We think, and we believe the town agrees, that more signs will help drivers realize that the clearance issue at the bridge is real and one they need to avoid at all costs," O'Connell said. "The road is heavily traveled, the bridge isn't going anywhere, and raising it or lowering the road aren't options. Signage is the only option and we want to do our part."
O'Connell did not have a dollar figure for CSX's donation. He said the company wanted to have more talks with the town to determine how much the additional signage would cost, before off ering a specific amount of financial assistance.
"Offering financial assistance is an easy way to a win-win situation for CSX," Gordon said. "It makes them look good to the community, like they're helping out, and it's the cheapest way for them to help out, because they're certainly not interested in investing what it would cost to come up with a permanent solution, like raising the bridge."
Discussion recently in Westborough has centered on signage that can also serve as warnings to indicate to a truck whether it is within the proper height to pass under the bridge. Until recently, the bridge signage was used only to caution truck drivers that they were approaching a bridge with low clearance issues.
Last month two more warning signs were installed by the town, on East Main Street near Brigham Street and by Hastings Elementary School.
"The feedback we're getting is telling us people in town – people who get stuck in long delays when one of these trucks get stuck – want us to investigate warning systems, so that drivers can know at the earliest possible moment that they're not going to fit under the bridge," Gordon said. "People think the earlier drivers find out they're not going to fit, the more time there is to avert getting stuck and traffic backing up."
Gordon said warning suggestions have included an overhanging pipe with a chain attached, similar to the mechanisms that dot Boston's Storrow Drive, and warnings that trigger red laser beam lights.
"If we go in that direction, with warnings, people are not going to like the look and the way it changes the look of downtown, at the rotary," Department of Public Works Director John Walden said. "There's going to be complaints, but what's our priority – to keep trucks from getting stuck under the bridge or attractive signs?"
Walden said truck drivers heading eastbound on Route 30 need to know by just after the rotary whether or not their truck is going to fit under the bridge.
"The point of no return is Milk Street," Walden said. "They need to know by then because they can redirect themselves down Milk Street to Route 9."
Walden said there is a sign directing truck drivers to Route 9, but it needs to be enlarged so it can stand out among the three signs that are on the same post.
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