By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Writer
SOUTHBOROUGH – Voters will decide at next month’s Southborough Town Meeting whether to allocate $25,000 to fund a traffic study to determine the most optimal routes for heavy commercial vehicles traveling through town, among other things.
Selectmen have received requests for truck exclusions on various Southborough roads, including Flagg Road, Pine Hill Road and Oak Hill Road.
Chair Lisa Braccio explained there is a Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) stipulation that, before an exclusion is put in place, alternate routes must be identified.
Town Administrator Mark Purple said during an Oct. 5 meeting with Selectmen and the Advisory Committee that the study would identify where there are streets, sidewalks and other infrastructure that would allow safe passage for both vehicles and pedestrians. Purple added the $25,000 figure is based on a received quote and is not an estimate.
Vice Chair Chelsea Malinowski said the article came about following discussions about safety issues on Flagg Road.
Selectmen also recently heard from residents of Oak Hill Road, who voiced concerns at a Sept. 8 meeting about loud truck noises in addition to various safety issues.
Residents asked that the town take a number of different actions to improve the situation on that street.
Selectmen said on Oct. 5, though, that they worry that prohibiting trucks in one spot will simply transfer the problem elsewhere.
“We want to do what’s best for all residents,” Malinowski said.
Responding to questions about the scope of the study, Selectman Martin Healey said, “It’s not a counting exercise.” Instead, he said, the study is “more about identifying where the trucks are coming from and where they are going.”
He added that MassDOT very rarely rescinds truck exclusions that have already been granted, such as one on Main Street in town. However, that option may be considered.
In the short-term, the state will put up signage on Flagg Road telling trucks to turn around at the interchange of Route 495. Another sign on Middle Road will say there is not a U-turn and to use Route 85.
“It’s not as easy as just picking ‘x’ road because there are ramifications,” Braccio said.
Town Meeting will take place on Monday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. at the P. Brent Trottier Middle School, 49 Parkerville Rd.