By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – An ongoing case before the Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen has involved complaints that vehicles speed dangerously along the Memorial Drive section bordering Grafton, where posted speed limits drop from 55 to 50 to 35 miles per hour (MPH) over a short span of road. Residents and neighbors of this roadway have complained repeatedly about what they say is a hazardous situation. In response, the board has completed several studies done to try and quantify the volume and speed of the traffic as the residents insist the speed limit must be reduced.
Most recently, the board asked the Worcester Highway District Three to again evaluate the situation. The district found that the 55 MPH speed limit is appropriate and that there is no increased incidence of traffic accidents along that stretch of road. Thus, they concluded, there is no engineering reason to lower the posted speed limit.
“This issue has been going on for several years,” Selectman Maurice DePalo said, “and the Engineering Department sees no reason to install something like a flashing yellow light.”
He indicated that he did not see what else could be done in response to neighborhood complaints. To a question from Selectman Henry Fitzgerald, Chair Moira Miller replied that the state had ruled that there is no traffic speed issue here and thus no reason to alter posted speed limits.
“The answer is clearly ‘no,’” she said.
At this point, a voter in the audience asked to speak and Miller allowed it, noting that this was a meeting and not a hearing. The voter then told the board that traffic on the road “made her a nervous wreck and made her frightened to drive” the highway span under discussion. Miller replied that she understood the concern but that the board had given the matter due diligence and thus the matter was closed.
In other business, the board noted that the Shrewsbury Fire Department is preparing to submit a request for extra firefighters under the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER). SAFER was created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities.
The request would include a pledge not to lay off any firefighters during the two-year length of the grant and to try and maintain the positions after the grant expires. The grant would likely occur in FY 2017 and FY18, ending in FY19 and amount to approximately $300,000. DePalo noted that he was a little nervous about being able to continue funding the positions after the grant expired, but with the urging of Town Manager Daniel Morgado, the board voted unanimously to request the grant.