Traffic light timing issues frustrate Northborough residents


Traffic light timing issues frustrate Northborough residents
Crews recently repaired damaged loop detectors, which work to detect traffic, at the intersection of Routes 20 and 135 in Northborough. Traffic light timing may still be an issue for some at intersections in town, though. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

NORTHBOROUGH – It may be taking up to 20 minutes for traffic lights to resume their regular cycles after pedestrians cross certain streets in Northborough. 

That’s according to Public Works Director Scott Charpentier.

Selectman Leslie Rutan noted the issue during a meeting this past Monday.

“Residents are continuing to comment about the lights downtown,” she said. 

While the lights could be thrown off by pedestrians crossing the streets, Rutan said that she’s seen delays in the downtown area at times where there either weren’t pedestrians or where pedestrians had crossed several minutes earlier. 

She said she assumed residents who had spoken up regarding this were talking about the intersections of Route 20 and Hudson Street and Routes 20 and 135 in downtown Northborough. She said she had not heard exact details of residents’ experiences, though. 

“There are just some weird things going on with those lights, sometimes, that get very messy and strange,” Rutan said.

Charpentier said the town reached out to MassDOT late last year after they first heard complaints about this issue. 

Crews found and repaired damaged loop detectors, which work to detect traffic, at the intersection of Routes 20 and 135, Charpentier said.

He added, however, that it could still take four to five light cycles for lights to get back to their regular timing after pedestrians cross roads like Route 20 or Church Street.

With a light cycle lasting around three to four minutes, he estimated that the disruption could last about 15 minutes in those cases. 

“That’s just the timing of the lights to get back to normal. That doesn’t clear the queue,” Charpentier said, referencing the lines of traffic that can back up during these periods of shortened light cycles. 

“You could end up with a 20 minute correction period after a pedestrian crosses one of the longer crosswalks like Church Street,” Charpentier continued.  

Rutan asked whether the town would be able to get representatives of the state Department of Transportation to review the situation again and recommend “tweaks” as needed. 

Charpentier said staff could reach out to MassDOT to make sure the timing is O.K. 


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