Town to conduct new traffic count on Pine Hill Rd; BOS to vote on painted lines and other safety/traffic control options

by beth on September 5, 2019

Post image for Town to conduct new traffic count on Pine Hill Rd; BOS to vote on painted lines and other safety/traffic control options

Right: A speed response sign was one of the options mentioned at Tuesday night’s discussion of traffic control on Pine Hill Road.

This week, the Board of Selectmen heard a resident’s request to implement traffic control measures on Pine Hill Road. While the agenda listed a request to exclude heavy vehicles, that was just one of the options they were asked to consider. Caroline Rossen was asking the board to suggest a course of action to improve safety for residents and drivers on the road.

Residents claim that traffic has spiked since the last count was done in 2015. And there was criticism of the previous count having been conducted over summer vacation time.* Selectmen heard residents’ concerns and approved a new traffic count for Pine Hill Road and turns made at the intersection with Parmenter. 

The board also asked Public Works Superintendent Karen Galligan to come back with more information. That includes a concept for painting lines on the road and other ideas that may be implemented.

Rossen told selectmen that she was raising the issue based on concerns that the situation would begin to get worse. She worried that a potential deal to allow cultivation of marijuana on a nearby farm in Framingham would increase the number of cars on the road.

In speaking with area residents, she found they were already concerned about other safety issues – speeding vehicles, large trucks, and the landscaping trucks that park on the road, etc.

One option raised by Rossen was the installation of speed bumps. Selectman Marty Healey suspected some residents on the street might object. Since the agenda only mentioned the truck exclusion, he wanted to put other decisions off to allow residents to weigh in.

The one easy solution that Galligan could suggest was painting a centerline down Pine Hill as some residents recommended. But she said she would want the board to vote on that. She referred to controversy when the DPW suddenly painted a line down Flagg Road in reaction to safety complaints from area residents.

Earlier Selectman Dan Kolenda had remarked that he had gotten positive feedback on the Flagg Road line. But there were a lot of complaints on the blog and directly to Public Works from area residents. Some claimed it made the road more dangerous for those walking or biking.

Based on Galligan’s feedback, it is unlikely that a heavy vehicle exclusion will be pursued. The state requires that reasonable routes be available to allow commerce. It appears that since the alternate route for trucks would be Edmunds Road, a problematic back road for Framingham, the neighboring Town would have to support the request.

Healey questioned if the true alternate routes shouldn’t be considered the highways. He pointed out that the Pine Hill and Edmunds are mainly used by the trucks as shortcuts. He wondered if the could work with Framingham to also oppose using the back roads for the big trucks and posing the highway as the alternate route.

Galligan responded that any trucks with deliveries to make on the roads have to be allowed. She said that makes enforcement difficult for police. That was one of many obstacles that Galligan talked about in the face of suggestions over signage, speed limit changes, double stripe painting, etc.

Galligan indicated that any major change would need the evidence of traffic counts. The board authorized spending the $2,000 that she estimated a count would cost.

Selectman Lisa Braccio asked Galligan to also find out how many accidents took place on the road over the past two years and how many tickets were issued.

Safety issues have long been a complaint for residents on Pine Hill and Paramenter Roads. Back in the summer of 2015, residents pushed the Town to address concerns. That was followed by a petition to the board that fall asking for action. The Town did follow through on several improvements based on the traffic study. 

I contacted Galligan to clarify which actions were taken. She confirmed that the following recommendations were implemented:

  • A yellow centerline should be installed along Parmenter Road consistent with markings currently provided in the adjacent communities of Marlborough and Framingham. The resulting roadway cross section would consist of two 10± foot travel lanes (one lane in each direction).
  • A yellow centerline should be installed along the last 150 feet of Pine Hill Road approaching Parmenter Road.
  • A “STOP” line and new “STOP” sign should be installed on the Pine Hill Road approach to Parmenter Road. The vegetation blocking the view of the STOP sign should be removed to enhance visibility of the sign as well as sight line triangle for vehicles looking east onto Parmenter Road from Pine Hill Road. To enhance the visibility of the “STOP” condition a “STOP sign ahead” warning sign (graphic W3‐1) should be installed along Pine Hill Road.
  • Existing roadside vegetation along Parmenter Road within the Town of Southborough should be trimmed as needed to enhance roadway and signage visibility.
  • To maximize the available sight line looking west from Pine Hill Road onto Parmenter Road. . . approximately four (4) trees should be removed.
  • The two “Caution Intersection Ahead” signs on the Parmenter Road approaches to Pine Hill Road should be removed. The Signs should be replaced with “Advanced Intersection Warning” signs (graphic W2‐2) with supplemental “25 mph” advisory speed plaques (W13‐1P). The 25 mph designation for the advisory speed plaque is based on the available ISD of 250 feet as cited above. Likewise, the new signage should be placed approximately 250 feet from the intersection.

The recommendations that weren’t implemented were:

  • To maximize the available sight line looking west from Pine Hill Road onto Parmenter Road the area within the sight line triangle should be regraded, the stone wall should be removed and reset to a maximum height of 2.5 feet above the adjacent roadway grade. . . With [those improvements, plus the removal of 4 trees that DPW has had removed] the sight line (ISD) looking to the west from Pine Hill Road onto Parmenter Road can be maximized to approximately 250 feet which correlates to a design speed of approximately 25 mph.
  • The right turn corner radius from Parmenter Road onto Pine Hill Road should be enlarged to enhance operations and to provide a tangent curve.

On Tuesday, Galligan reiterated that many of the complaints about Pine Hill are a problem on other roadways in town. She noted that there are only a few roads in town that connect major routes or sections of town. Some, like Pine Hill, were basically horse paths that became cart paths, then roadways.

The Public Works chief opined that the real safety fix is one that most people don’t want to make. Roadways would need to be widened to allow for all the ways that the roads are used today. She followed that the public wouldn’t likely support doing that since it changes the character of the roads.

Galligan will be back in front of the board with more information and recommendations at their next meeting. (That’s scheduled for September 17th.) Traffic counts will likely be done in about a month.

*The 2015 study was conducted in July, following a fiery crash that took place in June. Residents pushed for the Town to fix the dangerous intersection. A traffic study was the first step taken.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 arborist September 5, 2019 at 6:47 PM

The problem on pine hill rd. is the same problem on most of the streets in southboro, Simple put, people driving vehicles HAVE TO SLOW DOWN, The police do a good job , but can’t be on all the streets at once, you can put up all the signs you want , bottom line is the operator driving with care can go a long way

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2 Richard September 5, 2019 at 10:38 PM

The yellow line painted the full length of Flagg Rd., to my daily-commuter eye, has had little effect on speed. It wore out rather quickly and has already been re-painted. One of the radar speed signs is completely useless (the nothbound/eastbound one) as it is hidden behind a telephone pole.

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3 Townie September 6, 2019 at 3:03 PM

I personally thing before the town spends boat loads of cash on more study’s of roads that have obvious problems, lets do a reassessment of the measures taken on Deerfoot road to see if there has been any positive change. If not, we need to try new tactics.

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4 Mike September 7, 2019 at 10:41 AM

Honestly the only thing that works to get people to slow down in the neighborhoods and roads like Pine Hill are speed bumps. Stop paying expensive consultants in use our brains and do it ourselves. It worked great on the road from Pine Hill over to Wayland I don’t know the name of the road but you have to slow down you can’t go any faster than 30 miles an hour. It’s needed more than just Pine Hill. The police can’t be everywhere.

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5 southsider September 7, 2019 at 10:43 AM

For years, Woodland Road residents wanted the gap in the jersey barrier at Woodland and Route 9 closed to no avail… it’s the perfect shortcut road for so many residents of other towns and its well paved condition and absence of sidewalks makes it a hazard.
And it’s always been strange that Parkerville Road North side has speed humps while South side does not despite the presence of a grammar school and a highly used set of ball fields with no sidewalks between Richards Road and Route 9.
And now, we’ve added to the problem with those office workers taking a left out of the Tomasso/Starbucks parking lot onto streets that may be the most narrow in town.
Enforcement is difficult, I’d agree.
Maybe building speed humps everywhere once would be cheaper than more police salaries forever.

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6 pretty_good_job_on_9 September 9, 2019 at 1:17 PM

Sorry to burst your bubble – the so-called speed humps have close to NO DETERRENT EFFECT on speeders on Parkerville Road north. While posted at 30 MPH on both ends, with the admonishment that it is Thickly Settled, parents whisking their tweens & teens to school and commuters race up & down Parkerville mornings, afternoons and evenings.

SPD sets up radar once or twice per year on this busy throughway.

I note that Parkerville Road south has a “Your Speed Is” monitor – which has almost the same effect as the speed humps on Parkerville Road north and the tiny Truck Exclusion Zone signage in other parts of town.

As noted above – enforcement would go a long way to trimming the sails (and pocketbooks/wallets) of the speeders. Unfortunately, there seems to be little incentive
for that activity on residential streets – route 9, where almost nobody has a home, yes – residential streets where people actually live and recreate, no so much.

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7 arborist September 8, 2019 at 6:58 PM

I agree with Townie, spend no more money on studies, instead, fine the violators with a $500:00 ticket, the town can collect money and not give it away to consultants who don’t have a clue on the status of a street. That will slow the speeders down some plus a little surcharge on the car insurance

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8 Mike September 9, 2019 at 9:43 AM

Wow, look at that! Liberals and conservatives agree. That should be a news flash this morning on the AP and Drudge. It just goes to show all politics is local in town. All good stuff. Build the speed bumps Karen @ DPW and no excuses that you need state approval. We will back you.

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9 arborist September 9, 2019 at 9:59 AM

speed humps hinder police and fire vehicles response times, also makes snow removal difficult for DPW, hit them in the pocketbook with fines, word gets out quickly that southboro is no town to speed in.

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10 pretty_good_job_on_9 September 9, 2019 at 1:02 PM

Above, arobrist noted “the police do a pretty good job” nabbing speeders in Southborough. Maybe where you live, definitely NOT where I live. Looking at the posted police logs, it appears most of the activity is on route 9 – like shooting fish in a barrel. Posted 50 MPH and most people drive it at 70 MPH. Not too different from my street – posted at 30 MPH and most people drive it at 40 or 50 MPH.

SPD has set up radar once or twice in the last year – even though it is a recognized area of speeding concern!

How about speed cameras? Do they work? YES. They’re used everywhere in France – and people, for the most part, SLOW DOWN. NYC has them installed – and they’re adding HUNDREDS more.

Do we need them here in Southborough – where the police cannot be everywhere at once? OVERWHELMINGLY yes!

As far as traffic counting goes – the Southborough DPW always uses the same agency to conduct the counts. As noted in the story above, the dates/times selected seem to be associated with some ‘agenda’. I heard of one street that had its traffic count conducted on a Thanksgiving weekend – fewer cars, no delivery trucks and no school buses – which would have registered as trucks. Can you say, ‘hidden agenda’?

Let’s limit the speeders and truck traffic to the roads that were designed to handle it – the
state highways (9, 30, 85, etc.) and get it off the residential streets!

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11 Mike September 9, 2019 at 3:31 PM

Recently I was at Brown University and I was going slow 30 but I got a ticket in the mail because the speed limit was 20 and honestly it made me take notice. I’m small government conservative but unfortunately this goes under the realm of abusive freedoms when people don’t fallow the rules and the laws government gets bigger and one solution like you said above is cameras. But then you have to put them everywhere.

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