September 27 2017

Articles Approved to Allow Traffic Signal at Project Occupying Former Building 19 1/2 Site

By: Rich Hosford

There will be a new light on Cambridge Street as part of an ongoing project in the former Building 19 ½ site.

After a lengthy discussion on Monday night Town Meeting approved two warrant articles that would pave the way for a traffic light and crosswalk be installed at the incoming Shoppes at Simonds Park.

Town Meeting was not voting on the traffic light directly but instead on whether to allow the town to transfer two small parcels of property to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the entity that controls Cambridge Street. One parcel is a portion of Olympian Way and the other is a section of town land running along Cambridge Street.

Some Town Meeting members spoke against the proposal. The biggest concern raised was that at the point of the traffic signal the road would be marked as four lanes, two in each direction. However, before and after the lights it would go back to what it is now, the confusing possibly one, possibly two lane road that is technically labeled as 1.5 lanes in each direction.

A few members said this widening and shrinking of Cambridge Street made driving dangerous. A couple people suggested the town should work with MassDOT to get the entire road expanded but more said it would be better to keep it as a one lane in each direction road throughout.

“I don’t want a four-lane highway running through the center of town and I don’t know who does,” Town Meeting member Steve Stamm said.

Planning Director Kristin Kastner said the makeup of Cambridge Street has been the subject of a long and ongoing discussion with MassDOT but that the issue in front of Town Meeting was this small section pertaining to the construction project.

A traffic engineer for Heritage Trail LLC, the entity behind the project, said the traffic signal and crosswalk would improve safety in the area. He said there would be a signal for pedestrians at the push of a button. He also said the road would be widened and that there would be a four-foot shoulder on each side.

Finally, he said the traffic signal would be a “smart” signal and work in conjunction with the Cambridge Street signals at the Winn Street and Bedford Street intersection to help keep traffic moving as smoothly as possible.

In the end Town Meeting voted to approve the articles by the necessary two-thirds margin.


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