By Drew M. Bailey, Community Reporter
Northborough – Town Engineer Fred Litchfield went before the Board of Selectmen during its Nov. 21 meeting to discuss a truck exclusion request that the town will submit to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) for Maple Street, Brigham Street, Ridge Road and Collins Road. This will be a follow-up to a previous attempt rejected by the state in the spring.
The previous exclusion request was not granted because the streets did not meet the requisite 5 percent daily truck traffic in both directions. As a result, this summer the town placed vehicle counters on Maple Street, Collins Road and Ridge Road. Based on the information gathered, they are prepared to submit a new request to MassDOT.
Litchfield stated that Collins Road does meet the state's standard for truck exclusion, but that based on current information, the other streets still do not. Because of issues of accessibility, the town plans to request that the adjoining streets be included in the Collins Road exclusion regardless, because they must be traversed in order to access it.
When asked by Board of Selectmen Chair Jeff Amberson if the truck traffic on these streets was associated with the A. Duie Pyle service center located on Bartlett Street, Litchfield said that he believed it was.
A dozen concerned citizens attended the meeting, and requested clarification of the process for requesting the exclusion or offered comments. One of the primary topics of discussion was safety. Due to the nature of the narrow streets, and the proximity of schools – the Marguerite E. Peaslee Elementary School is located on Maple Street near Main Street, and causes regular backups each day when parents pick up their children after school – most believed a truck exclusion was warranted. According to Litchfield, safety is not a factor considered by the state for granting truck exclusions; dealing with such issues is “up to the towns,” generally by mitigating unsafe conditions through repairs and road improvements.
Town Administrator John Coderre agreed that improving safety was a primary concern. He pointed out that excluding Collins Road as a truck route would alleviate the problem intersection that exists where it joins Ridge Road. If the other streets are not accepted in the exclusion, next year's data collection efforts will focus on those that remain, with an eye toward improving the intersection of Maple, Main and Brigham streets, he said.