By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Writer
SOUTHBOROUGH – Many residents on Oak Hill Road in Southborough say they are fed up with motorists speeding.
Accidents are increasing, they note. And loud truck sounds are disrupting sleep. So, Andrew Pfaff and Eric Fernandez brought residents’ safety concerns and requests for improvements to the Board of Selectmen on Sept. 8.
Pfaff and Fernandez said residents want to see permanent radar speed signs installed. They asked for the reduction of the speed limit to 25 miles per hour as well as placement of a “No Jake Braking” or similar sign on the downslope towards Route 9. They further requested the addition of sidewalks per the Complete Streets Funding Program Project Prioritization Plan.
In addition, Pfaff noted that neighbors would like to see crosswalks restored where they were previously removed. He also asked that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT) adjust the delay between traffic lights at Route 9 and, if adopted as legislation, place red-light cameras on those lights.
Pfaff said that many vehicles run the red light on Route 9, making for an extremely dangerous intersection.
He said that more than half of the neighbors in the Oak Hill Road area supported his plans to bring these matters before the selectmen.
Several residents’ vehicles have been hit backing out of their driveways. The frequent sound of trucks braking while going downhill has also been disturbing sleep, Pfaff said.
Selectman Sam Stivers said the requests are reasonable and that it is a “significant problem we certainly should address.”
He said a start would be to get some of the smaller measures done—like radar speed signs.
Chair Lisa Braccio said that things like sidewalks and speed are town-wide problems. She said that the board hears from people in multiple areas looking for solutions.
She questioned what would happen if trucks could not brake and how violations would be enforced. She also said that if the town had a truck exclusion, Ashland would have to agree to it.
Fernandez said that they recognize that Oak Hill Road is not the only road having these problems. But he noted that demographics are changing, and there are more children out and about. He said he worries for their safety.
He said that he spoke with neighbors who had lived on that road for more than 30 years, and they mentioned this was not the first time the problems were brought to the selectmen’s attention.
“The neighborhood is changing, so any small concessions that can be done short-term would be appreciated,” Fernandez said.
Selectman Chelsea Malinowski noted that whatever actions the board takes, they need to be fair and balance the requests that come in from all over town.
During a public comment period, resident Roger Challen, who has lived on Oak Hill Road since 1974, said that he hoped other problems elsewhere in town would not deter the board from looking into this area’s situation.
Braccio assured him that no one there “is intending to pay any form of lip service.”
She noted they would seek input from the police chief and DPW superintendent to help find a path forward and identify solutions.