What’s been happening on Chestnut Hill Road (temporary closure of throughway, permanent 2-way section)

by beth on September 19, 2018

Post image for What’s been happening on Chestnut Hill Road (temporary closure of throughway, permanent 2-way section)

Above: Did you, like me, miss that selectmen approved the changes to allow another 2-way section at the north end of Chestnut Hill Road last April? (image from Google Maps)

This summer, I was surprised to see that work had started on the project to change Chestnut Hill Road. I had mistakenly expected work orders would come through a “public hearing”. So, I missed when selectmen approved the work back in April.

With minutes from that April meeting newly posted, I’m catching myself and readers up on what I missed.

A year ago, I wrote about a proposal to convert the north section of Chestnut Hill to a two-way street. At the time, the board supported holding a future public hearing to decide.* Though not officially listed as a hearing, “proposed alterations to the road” was on the April 17th agenda under the section for “Appointments (may vote)”.

That meeting over spring break wasn’t televised and I was out of town. For those of you in the same boat, the minutes offer a detailed recap of the talk and resulting decisions. I also followed up with Public Works Superintendent Karen Galligan for an updated status.

The road has been closed to throughway traffic, with Route 30 side access only allowed as far as the access for Chestnut Hill Farm and other properties on the southeast end of road.

That closure will continue for a while. If they haven’t already begun laying water pipes this week, they will be doing that soon. Following that, the paving and widening of the road at the northwest end will begin. The guardrail has already been taken down there to allow it.

When the project is complete, the road will allow for 2-way traffic at each end of the road and resumed one-way only traffic (northwest bound) for a problematic section between.

Chestnut Hill Road from Google Maps

(click to enlarge)

Those changes were a response to challenges in allowing construction vehicles access to building the new 12 home subdivision off the road – Chestnut Meadow. (You can see the site where the development will access the road by clicking thumbnail left.)

The Planning Board was concerned that heavy construction trucks, likely in and out over four years, would put too big a strain on a middle section of the one way road. Looking at the road, Public Works agreed.

A temporary two way for trucks only at the road’s exit was considered as a potential solution. That was shot down over a year ago by Public Works and the safety chiefs worried that it would lead to dangerous confusion, with drivers illegally taking the wrong way in the future. They advised that the solution should be permanent and extend to all vehicles. (Fire Chief Mauro also preferred the access for emergency personnel to the future subdivision, in cases where they are proceeding from a location closer to the north end of the road.)

Minutes show that the April discussion covered much of the same ground as before but included more details on signage. As part of Selectmen’s vote to allow a permanent new 2-way section at the north end of the street they required additional signs beyond the ones proposed.

The minutes describe the following signs:

  • 3 way stop signs at the development’s egress.
  • a yellow warning sign on Fisher road for drivers that will be coming around “a dangerous curve” making them aware of the new left turn
  • And a “no right turn sign” at the development’s exit

That last one was a head scratcher for which I couldn’t get clarification that made sense. But Galligan tells me that she understood the intent – wrong way turn out of the development. (So, I’m gathering it will likely end up as a “no left turn” or “right turn only” sign that’s facing drivers exiting the development.)

Galligan said there will also be “One Way” and “Do Not Enter” signs on Chestnut Hill left/south of the development’s exit. 

The developer is footing the bill for these road changes. But Selectman Brian Shea again worried that future residents of the development would lobby for the entire road to become two way. He wanted it made clear to those buying in that the appetite may never be there for the Town to pay for that.

Jesse Dubois, who lives on the road, supported keeping the road from being fully two way. He noted that people use it as a cut through to get to school, quicker than Northborough road only because they are speeding. He believed that making the whole road two-way would only encourage more people to use it to speed through as a shortcut. Adding in the stop sign will also slow people down altogether.

Whitney Beals, another resident on the road, asked for a speed hump to be added after construction. Galligan said it was unlikely, but she would add it to the apparently long list of residents’ requests for road humps.

For more details, you can read the full minutes here.

*Back in 2017, Galligan had told selectmen that a public hearing would be required. I mistakenly assumed the April item would be another preliminary talk before the future “hearing”.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 more_bad_ideas September 20, 2018 at 8:32 AM

3-way stop sign at the egress onto Chestnut Hill Rd? Why? There is ONLY need for a stop sigh for the development – in order to YIELD (something MA drivers seem to have difficulty understanding!) to traffic already present on Chestnut Hill Rd.

The goal should NOT be to impede the flow of traffic – which will be predominantly through traffic on Chestnut Hill Rd, rather to ensure ‘safe’ ingress/egress to/from the new development. There are a very few houses to be constructed in this lot, so the traffic flow should correctly give precedence to Chestnut Hill Rd.

Get it?

Apparently the BOS and DPW don’t get it…

Reply

2 SB Resident September 20, 2018 at 9:18 AM

I would assume that safety is being used as a pretext for the 3-way stop, but they are really putting it in as a traffic deterrent for thru traffic.

Reply

3 Mike September 23, 2018 at 8:11 AM

Chestnut hill road and fisher are prime routes for 95% of southborough’s newest teen drivers to get to algonquin. Seems like needing to add ‘danger’ signs is should be a red flag. Chestnut and Fisher don’t meet on the map though? Is there a detailed map of these ‘more bad ideas’?

Reply

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