By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Northborough residents have been vocal about their concerns surrounding traffic in town. Northborough Planning Board Chair Kerri Martinek wants to be proactive in how those concerns are heard and addressed. This was a topic of discussion during the Planning Board’s meeting on Nov. 4.
Some of the more recent traffic concerns were voiced during public hearings in October for 0 Bartlett Street, owned by The Gutierrez Company, who applied to construct a distribution center. Although, the Board ultimately denied this project, resident concerns remain based on current and future occupants of warehouses on that street, specifically the newest occupant – Amazon.
Martinek said that the Board hears from residents through emails and public comment during hearings, but traffic concerns go beyond any specific application.
“It doesn’t have to be specific to location,” she said. “It seems that we are getting to a point where a lot of traffic concerns are bubbling up, whether it is in one area of town or the next.”
She wants to be able to open the line of communication with town staff and the Board of Selectmen to relay what is heard by the Planning Board, their concerns and what residents are sharing, and start to find some solutions.
Town Planner Kathy Joubert said that the Department of Public Works, Town Engineer and Police Chief are in the process of putting a memo together for the Board of Selectmen to start to address some of the concerns.
She indicated that new traffic counts will be redone in the spring once the new warehouses are up and operational.
Joubert also said that the concern that tractor trailers were parking on the side of the street on Bartlett Street has been addressed. A granite slab is now blocking the spot that many truck drivers were using to pull off the road for required rest periods, often overnight.
“This is a just a small step, but a significant step,” she said. “Some of these short term issues are in the process of being addressed.”
Other areas of concerns and requests that have been raised by residents include crosswalks, pedestrian lights, truck exclusions and signage.
Discussions between Northborough, Westborough and Marlborough are ongoing, as any truck exclusion in Northborough that redirects truck traffic into those towns would need approval.
Joubert said there is no overall formal town traffic management plan.
“Overall nobody is disagreeing that this needs to be addressed,” said Joubert. “Any time traffic concerns are brought to the Board of Selectmen or to the Town Administrator’s office, it’s dispersed to staff, and it is typically the Town Engineer and the DPW Director and often the Police Department. It’s generally those three staff people who will meet and talk about it and figure out how to address it.”
Board member Michelle Gillespie said that Northborough is growing and is unique because three major, busy roadways— I-495, Route 9, and 290—border the town.
“There has to be some mitigation to help the town,” she said. “I hope that these mitigation packages rather than be a reactive approach start to be a proactive approach. Right now as a Board we have nothing to ask or question when we have an applicant who is going to have a large impact on the town.”
The full meeting can be viewed on the Northborough Remote Meetings channel on YouTube.