Public Safety Building Update: Success, savings, and driveway confusion

by beth on September 24, 2019

Post image for Public Safety Building Update: Success, savings, and driveway confusion

Above: Work on the Public Safety Building is mostly, successfully completed. But solving what to do about driveways that shouldn’t be used the way most drivers would expect is still on the to-do list. (photo by Beth Melo)

Last week, the Public Safety Building Committee reported to the Board of Selectmen. The overall message was one of success. The committee asked selectmen to drive home the point with Town Meeting voters. Since the committee successfully avoided tapping into contingency funds, the chair recommended asking voters to rescind some of the authorized borrowing.

Still, the chair did acknowledge one remaining issue – driveways causing confusion for some drivers.

At a glance, driveways to the site look like a typical divided egress, where drivers enter on the right and exit on the left. However, that isn’t how the driveways are designed to be used.

The right driveway is for the emergency departments’ vehicles only – both entering and exiting. The left driveway is for the public to enter and exit – for both the safety complex and the golf course. The left side is also the entryway for buses headed to Woodward School next door. (You can take a look at their video explaining the driveways here.)

PSB Chair Jason Malinowski noted that since the opening earlier this month, some drivers have accidentally entered the emergency vehicle driveway. He said that so far it seemed that everyone was able to navigate their way out. 

Malinowski invited the public to share their constructive ideas for solutions. (It was clear that he’d received quite a few suggestions already.) But he asked the public to be patient:

The chiefs are monitoring it and we may choose to make some corrections down the road or we may wait this out rather than reacting to two weeks of using this driveway and just see what comes of it.

I guess my one request of anyone in the public watching this is, just have some patience with it. Follow the traffic pattern that we’ve outlined. . . just remember it is a public safety facility and drive at a very slow rate and you’ll be fine.

Other minor issues with the facility included HVAC that contractors were adjusting after firefighters found sleeping quarters uncomfortably hot. Malinowski said that was to be expected in such a large building during a changing season. For the most part, the comments he was receiving from the departments was “awe” over the improvement from their old stations.

(The departments had long complained about conditions in the deteriorating buildings where they were previously housed. You can see for yourself via virtual tours of the old police station here and fire station here. You can tour the new station on October 26th.)

Malinowski was happy to report that the average household would pay $96 less (gross) than was projected to the voters. Officials thought the  Town would have to pay $46M for principal and interest over 30 years. That is now estimated as $35M. Part of the savings was found by getting started before the steel tarriffs. Lower bonds than projected also helped.

Malinowski asked me to share with readers the final monthly newsletter/report from the Owner’s Project Manager. (You can open that here.) Under issues, it stated:

At the time of this report, the only issue remaining is a final reconciliation with CTA [the contractor] regarding possible LD assessment as well as rejected PCOs where CTA disagrees with the rejection. A meeting is scheduled for the week of 09.21.19 where all parties can hopefully reach a successful settlement.

That was Greek to me. So I asked for a translation. He responded:

What it meant was whether the town was going to choose to assess liquidated damages for delays and/or how we were going to deal with work that had to be completed, but our consultants had rejected the price of due to the fact that they thought it should not be passed through to the town for a variety of reasons.

He was pleased to follow that the meeting had since taken place and that all of the open change orders had been resolved and all future claims for additional funding from the general contractor were taken off the table.

As he stated at last week’s meeting, Malinowski was proud to share the contractor’s comment about “how rare it is to have so little in dispute on a project of this magnitude, not to mention be able to settle it.”

The project isn’t fully complete. In follow up communications with me, Malinowski confirmed that there is still a final “punch list” to be resolved for items not working/functioning as expected. The final payment will wait for that. He noted that the Town has a 1 year warranty on the work.

At last week’s meeting, Malinowski thanked the many people involved in making the project work. Fellow committee members also thanked him for his great efforts. As you’d expect, the Board of Selectmen also profusely thanked everyone involved. It was all, too long to quote highlights, so you can watch that part for yourself below starting here and again here:

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Philip Robbins September 24, 2019 at 8:13 PM

In regards to the driveway confusion I think the signs at the end of the emergency vehicle driveway should be changed. Instead of the current two signs that say AUTHORIZED VEHICLES ONLY why not put two full size DO NOT ENTER SIGNS with two signs under them that say EMERGENCY VEHICLES ONLY. At the end of the left side public access driveway there could be a sign that says ENTER HERE or ENTER AND EXIT HERE.

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2 Kelly Roney September 25, 2019 at 1:42 PM

Yes!

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3 Arborist September 25, 2019 at 2:04 PM

I just watched the selectman’s meeting , some pretty interesting stuff, in regards to the pine hill/ Parmenter roads discussion part of the tape one speaker talked about the lack of fire hydrants and response times for the police and fire departments to that area of town, What does that have to do with speeding cars? as far as a town wide speed limit of 25 MPH goes I am all for it as long as every road in town is included. including the main roads .

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4 Dick Chase September 25, 2019 at 3:12 PM

In addition to the great idea above, the addition of a yellow divider line and arrows on the public entrance driveway (and the public driveway only) would help. Yellow lines will make it look familiar to people as a two way road, and people will more intuitively enter where they see an arrow on the road (just like at intersections with arrows on the road indicating which lane to use for going straight and which to use for turns).

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5 Brian September 27, 2019 at 7:09 AM

+1

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6 LeeBurlington September 25, 2019 at 3:20 PM

It’s too tight at the end of the driveway. People ignore signs and won’t have time to read them zipping off 85. The island will be chewed up by plows over the winters. Should be one big driveway and as your drive into the faculty , then there could be a split , then signage for emergency vehicle use for one side and regular business on the other.

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7 WalterL October 4, 2019 at 1:29 PM

I think the best solution would be an electronic gate that is controlled by the dispatcher remotely and you could have remote controls in the emergency vehicles as well and/or an electronic devise that senses the vehicle is close enough that it opens the gate, this way no vehicles other than emergency vehicles would enter or exit. A physical barrier would deter anyone else from entering.

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8 my town sb southborough October 9, 2019 at 3:01 PM

This is not the U.K. We don’t drive on the left side of the road. The faulty design of the entrance to the PSB needs a new designer. The entire entrance and signs are confusing, and contradictory to ouir way of driving. Rather than 10,000 people changing their driving habits, the town officials that approved this, need to go back to the drawing board, and reevaluate the design.

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