NORTHBOROUGH – Trucks will no longer be able to drive on Maple Street and Ridge Road after the Northborough Board of Selectmen approved a pair of truck exclusions during their Nov. 8 meeting.
“It makes all sorts of sense,” said Selectman Leslie Rutan. “It was good to see the truck counts that justify that and seeing a logic, it does make a lot of sense to complete this.”
These exclusions are the latest in a series of mitigation efforts, which have also included adopting a safety zone in front of Algonquin Regional High School and a “Jake brake” ban on Bartlett Street.
The Ridge Road restriction blocks off that entire road, while the Maple Street exclusion extends an existing exclusion to now block off the rest of that road as well.
Town Administrator John Coderre said the truck exclusions have their roots in a traffic study.
According to Town Engineer Fred Litchfield, five to eight percent of traffic on a given road must be heavy vehicle traffic for that road to qualify for a truck exclusion.
The definition of heavy commercial vehicles includes single unit two-axle trucks and larger vehicles.
Director of Public Works Scott Charpentier presented the results of a traffic count, during an Aug. 23 Board of Selectmen meeting.
At one location on one day at 43 Ridge Rd., 7.69 percent of traffic could be classified as heavy commercial vehicle traffic. On another day, at 100 Ridge Rd., that number was 6.19 percent.
Coderre said that, when the town conducted traffic counts in past years, Ridge Road particularly didn’t meet the threshold, which meant selectmen couldn’t adopt the exclusion there.
“This is really the last step in a multi-phased, multi attempt process to get truck exclusions on these roads,” Coderre said. “Sometimes you just have to wait until you meet the criteria, which we do now.”
Northborough had asked for Maple Street between Ridge Road and Bartlett Street to be included in this batch of truck exclusions.
Data showed 4.87 percent of traffic near 115 Maple Street involved heavy vehicles.
Though that’s technically below the five percent threshold, Northborough already had a truck exclusion on a separate portion of Maple Street between Ridge and Main Street.
“As it only makes sense because if trucks were to go in that portion of Maple Street — even though it didn’t quite meet the five percent — they would be stuck,” Litchfield said. “It’s unlikely or impossible to expect a truck driver to back up from that portion of Maple Street down by Ridge Road where the truck exclusion currently exists back to Bartlett Street. There’s no other way for them to get out.”
Officials at the state Department of Transportation, Litchfield said, saw that logic and approved Northborough’s request to implement the Maple Street exclusion.
This vote by the Board of Selectmen briefly sends these exclusions to the state, which, Litchfield said, will send Northborough instructions on how to install signs marking the truck exclusion area.
Instructions will include specific language to be used on the signs. Northborough will then be able to order the signs.
Charpentier estimated that it would take a couple of weeks for the signs to arrive once they are ordered.