Selectmen approve new transfer facility

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By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor

Westborough – After a lengthy site plan review, a proposal for a new CSX Transportation (CSX) and TRANSFLO Terminal Services transfer facility was approved by the Board of Selectmen at its Sept. 13 meeting. The facility will be located at the site of a former auto terminal at 19 Walkup Dr.
The approval, the board said, is contingent upon the company meeting a number of conditions, all of which CSX officials present at the meeting agreed to implement.
As part of the approval, Westborough will receive $1 million from CSX. It is estimated that the funds will be used as following: $230,000 for the fire department (10 sessions of HazMat training for 35 firefighters biennially); $100,000 for a foam trailer unit; $40,000 for a 10T GVW pickup; $30,000 for a heated storage facility for the foam unit; $250,000 for a traffic signal for Walkup Drive and Flanders Road; $40,000 for beaver removal ($2,000 per year for 20 years); and $160,000 for paving Walkup Drive or painting the East Main Street bridge. $150,000 will be allocated for an electronic height sensor to be placed near the East Main Street bridge. In doing so, officials hope this will help stop the perennial problem of trucks getting stuck under the bridge.
Town Manager Jim Malloy noted that other attempts, including posting signs in French to alert French Canadian truck drivers, have failed.
“Hopefully, if we have this height sensor, it would give drivers enough time to turn around in the Bay State Commons area before they hit the bridge,” he added.
Selectman Leigh Emery said she was pleased that problems with the bridge were being addressed as part of the agreement.
“Some citizens have had a perception that CSX has been unresponsive to this,” she said. “It's wonderful to see that this will be part of the remediation.”
Malloy noted that another condition added to the agreement was if a truck was loading or off-loading outside of the 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. business hours, CSX officials would notify the fire department.
Board Chair Lydia Goldblatt said she felt comfortable with approving the site plan review, especially after the many hours that town boards had worked with CSX throughout the process.
“All of our town boards have signed off on this,” she said. “And I take their comments and recommendations very seriously.”
The board approved the site plan, 5-0.
One person not happy with the decision, however, was Bonnie Phaneuf, the former chair of the Southborough Board of Selectmen. Phaneuf wanted the Westborough board to ask for public comments during the hearing. She noted that there were still concerns that Southborough officials had with CSX regarding rerouting trucks so they could not turn right onto Walkup Drive and continue into Southborough.
“This cannot be done without the approval of the Department of Transportation,” she added.
Malloy noted that trucks would not be allowed to make the disputed turn. He added that if truck traffic turns out to be a problem on either Walkup Drive or Flanders Road, then changes could be made to the site approval to address those issues since the roads are both town owned.
The new facility is the result of an agreement between the state and CSX and will increase the number of commuter trains between Framingham and Worcester. Currently, there are 25 trains running between the two municipalities – the proposed plan would double that by 2012.
As part of the deal, CSX and TRANSFLO will be moving their current central operations from its current Allston location. Some of those functions will be relocated to Springfield and Worcester, with the central operations to be relocated to the Westborough site.
CSX is investing $20 million into the terminal project. Officials estimate that building the facility will provide 106 construction jobs, and once it is built, seven to eight full-time employee positions will be available onsite.