Town officials not in agreement on Main Street project reassessment

Support for reassessing the Main Street project was discussed and debated at Monday night’s Planning Board meeting.

The original purpose of the discussion was to decide whether or not the Planning Board should support warrant articles related to underground wiring of utilities. Board members were unsure if it made sense to support articles that hinge on citizen articles to be voted on at Town Meeting.

Member Paul Cimino suggested addressing underground utilities regulations might need to wait until after the town votes on whether or not to assign and fund a committee to reassess the project.

Reassessing the main street project and utility “pole removal”, is an effort passionately led by former Selectman David Parry. Parry argued that if the town was going to make any changes to the project, all related measures need to be approved ASAP.

Parry said that DPW Director Karen Galligan advised him that steps they want to take should have been done already in order to be on task for the 2017 start date. There was some debate among board members, Parry and attending Selectman Bill Boland as to whether it is already too late.

Member Kathleen Bartolini advised all issues be adressed as soon as possible.

Bartolini said any seeming “iffiness” on the town’s part will give the state an excuse to move other projects ahead in the queue. Her experience as a former member of the state committee was that once a project is deemed in trouble it is dumped back in the pool with every other project vying for funding.

This was a fear echoed by Boland. Boland emphasized that it took years of work and lobbying to get the project where it is now. He asserted that the road doesn’t have many years left in it.

Boland told Parry that another committee would be pointless unless the town votes up front to pay for undergrounding utilities.

According to Boland, residents told him they weren’t willing to pay extra money on their monthly utility bills in order to fund removing utility poles from Main Street. He worried that the committee would jeopardize the project and in the end come back to town meeting with a proposal that fails to pass.

Parry argued that until a committee assesses the possible solutions, it’s too soon to propose a vote on paying for the project.

Boland and Parry argued the history of the project and past failures.

Planning Board Chair Don Morris supported Parry’s effort to raise citizen awareness of the projects’ impact. He said that he thought he was in the small minority of people opposed to the project. (He lamented the future loss of stately trees like the one at the library on the corner of routes 85 and 30.)

Town Planner, Jennifer Burney, promised to check with Town Counsel on which board was appropriate to hold public hearings for Parry’s citizen’s petition articles.

The board has yet to vote on or decide a course of action for related Planning Board articles.

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POI
8 years ago

Any of these projects are fruitless. They never help traffic, they only make it works, much worse during construction, and even worse after the fact. Leave it alone and let it die. If we need to re pave the surface, then plan it, do it and over over a weekend. The area is fine, traffic will not improve, and at the end of the day we have spent more money for nothing. Add another police officer to actually stop speeders, so they can write tickets, increase revenue that way.

SouthSider
8 years ago

I don’t see a need for major investment in that area. Traffic flows well most of the time. I would like to see right on red allowed when travelling Rt85 northbound… maybe that might help the occasional backup there. Everyone would like underground utility wires but I wouldn’t want a tax hike to achieve it… and I’d hate to see big healthy trees removed to enable this project.

Steve Phillips
8 years ago

This issue goes way beyond undergrounding. The route 30 redesign has been evolving behind the scenes into a much larger project than the plan which was originally approved by selectmen. In the new plans which are finally available to the public on the DPW website, the massive route 85/30 intersection and the demolition of our historic town common are plain to see. This plan was developed to meet the state’s goals — maximizing traffic flows through Southborough — and ignores the historic and rural character of our town center.

A fresh evaluation of the new modified plan is urgently needed before it’s too late. Any delays in this project will be minor compared to the impact of allowing this plan to move forward in its current disastrous form. We will have to live with the consequences of this design for decades to come, as it is going to make permanent alterations which could destroy our historic downtown district.

I urge you all to support the formation of a committee to reevaluate ALL of the issues concerned with this major project.

Al Hamilton
8 years ago
Reply to  Steve Phillips

Here is a link to the plans:

http://www.southboroughtown.com/dpw/dpw/Main%20Street/Main%20Street%20Reconstruction25ReSubmission.pdf

This is a very substantial project, and the plans are fairly technical. It would be helpful in communicating the project impacts to have some simplified plans or other views of the project as currently conceived.

The planning for this project has been in the works for years and a number of hearings and public discussions have been held. I have some concerns about the impact on the Commons which, my opinion really consists of 3 war memorials. My concern is that these memorials are already somewhat isolated from the public and this project may further isolate them.

Regardless of my concerns if a committee is formed it should have the following goals:

1. Forming a committee to study the issues cannot be a subtext for delaying or killing the project. Whatever it’s mandate it must do its work quickly (6 months?)

2. I would suggest that the BOS appoint the committee if there is to be one. Ultimately, decisions with respect to this project (to the extent that we have options) lies with the BOS. If the Moderator appoints a committee the BOS is under no obligation to adhere to any recommendations it makes.

3. The issue of “undergrounding” should be dropped. The State is not going to pay for it and there is no stomach for funding it with local dollars.

2.

Tim Martel
8 years ago
Reply to  Al Hamilton

For the most part, I agree with you. Though I did feel at the time that the estimate offered for the “undergrounding” was inflated well beyond reason and killed any possible discussion of it.

Just Curious
8 years ago

I agree with Mr. Hamilton’s comments, especially #3 regarding “undergrounding.”

Simply moving the poles underground will not make much of a difference in how the Main Street area looks, despite the colorful posters put up around town, ie Library, Muro’s, etc which suggest a dramatic improvement. Well, take a close look at those posters the next time you visit the post office or Mauro’s. The “before” pictures are rather drab, but the “after” pictures are larger and much more colorful, in large part due to the artist’s depiction of large trees in full spring color.

To me, the main difference in these two images are the beautiful trees in the “after” picture. Whether intentional or not, that’s what I see when I look at the poster. And I am all in favor of adding more trees to Main Street.

Mr. Parry lives on Main St and would like for the rest of Southborough to pay extra via our utility bills to pay for the removal of these poles and putting the utilities underground. I disagree. He’s entitled to try to get the town and state to remove the poles but I plan to vote against it if it comes to town meeting.

Also, some have suggested that moving the poles underground will lead to a more vibrant business center of town. I disagree. This will not make our center of town more like Westborough, Wellesley or Concord.

However, we in own should do EVERYTHING we can to stop the widening of this road. A substantial part of the traffic coming into Southborough via Rt 30 is simply people trying to avoid using Rt 9 to get to Framingham who work at Bose and Genzyme. (I also work in that area.) Every co-worker I have spoken with who lives west of Southborough told me they use Rt 30 to avoid Rt 9.

Widening the Rt30/Rt85 intersection will just lead to more people using Southborough as a cut through.

Now if anyone in town government is reading this, would it be possible to get the speed limit signs replaced on Main Street and Rt 85? They are so old and faded that you cannot see the speed limit until you are right on them., At night, they are unreadable.

Also, the speed limit is only 20 between Park St and East Main Street intersection. Right. People race through that section of town. If we made the speed limit 20 between Rt 85 and East Main st, AND asked the police to put a patrol car there versus on the side of Rt 9 (that is a state highway which is supposed to be patrolled by the State police ?- is that correct).

I applaud Mr. Parry’s relentless pursuit of his objective, but I respectfully disagree and will vote against if it comes to town meeting again.

Mark Ford
8 years ago

I agree, Al. I don’t understand the full ramifications of the project, and do not intend to endorse it until I do. I also agree on undergrounding– unless another funding source is found, let’s move on from that.

David Parry
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark Ford

I wish to address two issues: The first is the focus of the warrant article, and the second is brand new — the scheduling of the State Public Hearing.

The focus of the warrant article is NOT undergrounding of overhead cables. It is driven by the simple fact that most residents have little knowledge of the project, which is huge (2-3 feet deep), disruptive (2-3 years), passes thru the civic and historic heart of our town (3/4 mile), and changes it forever. If this does not deserve the review and consent of TM — before the bulldozers arrive — then what does?

Ironically, part of the problem is that DPW and Selectmen decided to seek State funding, which comes with rules attached. These rules affect the road design, and the volume of traffic you MUST provide for in any state-funded project — decades of future traffic growth must be accommodated. But is that what we really want ? As a result, we face the impacts of: (1) more turn lanes, some of which may possibly be unnecessary, (2) more asphalt, (3) fewer trees in the right-of-way, (4) cutting back the tiny town common, (5) perversely increasing the safety impacts of traffic — far more of it, travelling faster because there will be wider lanes, around gentler curves, and on a smooth road surface (NO bumps); (6) attracting more traffic away from Rt 9 — Our Planning Board chairman calls the future of Main St the new “Route 39” (i.e. 9 + 30).

Of course, the additional cars will all be coming to a stop in our tiny downtown, and then another stop at the signal at Framingham Rd, and another stop at Central St …etc. But we become the thru road of choice.

The proposed Review Committee has the ability to review all options — among them could be: (a) they can decide the State project is fine as it is (go ahead); or (b) they can tweak it; or (c)they can seek to bend those State rules severely (with legislative help) to make the design fit better; or (d) they could recommend that a year or more delay in State funding is no big deal (after all, this road has suffered from “deliberate neglect” for years, because the DPW claim is that anything the Town does to repair it could perversely “threaten ” State funding); or (e) they might even consider that a locally funded project, over many years, to a local design, with no state rules, doing ONLY WHAT IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIA,L AND IN OUR OWN INTEREST, is in fact the best policy for this town in the long run.

It is perfectly understandable that our DPW and some Town Selectmen are now getting so nervous — because FINALLY someone at Town Meeting may raise significant policy issues which actually dare to question the very PREMISE of their efforts, which are now being carried forward by sheer momentum …..So much work, for so long, only to see it questioned.

Now there is a new twist. We are accused of trying to “kill” the State funding. But the fact is that a town review need NOT threaten State funding … PROVIDED that the State public hearing is deliberately delayed at the Town’s request, and held AFTER Town Meeting has fully satisfied itself that the design is the correct way to proceed. Yet, in a brand new, twist of irony, our DPW and Selectmen are now deliberately doing the very opposite — scheduling the State hearing as early as possible. Yes, it is hard to believe, but it is true. Maybe they think this will drive us to soften our criticism. BUT THEIR DECISION WILL CERTAINLY THREATEN STATE FUNDING, BECAUSE NOW THE RESIDENTS ARE FINALLY BECOMING AWARE OF WHAT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN TO THEIR TOWN CENTER, AND SOME DO NOT LIKE IT…. And the State does not like to hear those contentious sentiments expressed at a public hearing, or they might reconsider. Therefore, it is in EVERONE’S interest to delay the State Hearing for as long as possible. .

The Review Committee could be the very vehicle to guarantee State funding is ultimately received, because the Review might result in more acceptance of a “tweaked” design, with modified State rules, resulting in a more “successful” State public hearing, IF IS HELD AT A MUCH LATER DATE.

Steve Phillips
8 years ago

Those “colorful posters” were drawn up to demonstrate how beautiful a redesign could be if it was done with respect for the existing neighborhood. Unfortunately the reality is far less attractive. I am a Main Street resident myself, and I’ve seen how many people in town have fought for an appropriately scaled project in this area over the past decade. Instead, this project just keeps growing in size, despite all attempts to preserve the scale of the existing neighborhood.

The state guidelines don’t make any formal allowance for the historic nature of our downtown area. Instead, they are a design by spreadsheet, based on projected estimates of future traffic demand. Since route 30 is a bypass for route 9, traffic projections chase their own tails — the larger you make the road, the more traffic will be diverted from route 9 during commuting hours. Is the solution to keep making the road even wider? Residents’ goals have been simple — to keep the amount of pavement low enough so that the neighborhood doesn’t lose its essential character. All of the debates over parking, undergrounding, etc. have been in service of this larger goal.

Over the years, the Board of Selectmen have taken several votes to keep the road width limited and to preserve our town common. However, when you look at the new plans (which have just recently been made available to the public on the DPW web site), it’s obvious that the opposite is happening. The route 85/30 interchange just keeps getting larger and larger, and the plan now involves significant property takings from neighboring properties including the Community House and Saint Mark’s. Additionally, the plan for the town common is a disaster. Our town’s historical heritage is being sacrificed to meet a number on a spreadsheet.

I’m also not sure whether residents appreciate the amount of disruption involved in the project. This is not going to take a week or two like repaving Latisquama and School Street. Instead, we are looking at YEARS of torn-up roads, delays, and construction. As this project continues to grow in size, these costs and delays are only going to increase. Ask anyone you know in Northborough what they think about the route 20 redesign — this is the future that is in store for us if we don’t act now.

I firmly believe that these issues are very important to far more than just Main Street residents. Unlike many surrounding towns, the history and heritage of Southborough are still visible as you drive through town. The mile markers and monuments you see along route 30 commemorate General Henry Knox’s drive down this very road in 1775, transporting 60 tons of cannon with men and oxen to lift the siege of Boston. To quote Wikipedia,

“Called by historian Victor Brooks “one of the most stupendous feats of logistics” of the entire war, Knox’s effort is commemorated by a series of plaques marking the Henry Knox trail in New York and Massachusetts.”

It is this trail that we are proposing to convert into a sea of asphalt. If this plan proceeds in its current form, the entire town will be the poorer for it. Continued urbanization of Southborough will have a negative effect on our property values as our town becomes a less desirable place to live. The increased traffic will change our country road into a highway, and we’ll start seeing historic properties disappear as the neighborhood loses its residential character. We’ve already seen this happen on route 9, and now it’s going to happen to route 30.

It may be too late to prevent this disastrous redesign from happening, but it is certainly NOT too late for concerned residents of Southborough to be asking hard questions and pushing for improvements to this project. Right now, this project is being driven by the interests of drive-through commuters, and the citizens of Southborough need to make our voices heard.

I urge you to vote in favor of a review committee tasked with reevaluating this design and making recommendations for improvements. Additionally, our town is far overdue in establishing a National Historic District which would help to recognize and preserve our historic properties.

Nora England
8 years ago

I think we need to give Mr. David Parry a reasonable chance. It is not productive to say because he lives in Main street, he wants the project to be done.

David Parry
8 years ago

This comment is solely about UNDERGROUNDING of overhead cables and removal of all those ugly poles from Main St. But first, let me emphasize, this is NOT my chief concern — the WHOLE PROJECT is my concern. The reason I have focused on undergrounding is because the street reconstruction offers a unique potential — one that is unlikely to be revisited for 100 years. There are two issues I want to review. One is the cost, and the other is the actual scheme for cable removal.

First, the cost. The State will not pay for removal of overhead cables. Several commentators have dismissed it out of hand, because of previous estimates. But Mr Tim Martel states correctly that “the estimate was inflated well beyond reason and killed any possible discussion of it”. Mr Mark Ford is opposed IF these estimates stand, but he offers another interesting opening: “unless another funding source is found”. Now, there is the germ of an idea, which is worth considering. Many wealthy individuals, institutions and developers care deeply about the appearance of our Main St. This is, after all, the Town’s “front yard”. Maybe fund sharing and donations are one possibility.

Second, the scheme. We need to stop calling it “undergrounding” because there is another alternative, it is not primarily undergrounding, and it may be significantly less expensive. We need to start calling it (generically) “Main St pole and cable removal” (or something like that). The cost problem lies in the length of expensive concrete ducts under Main St. Other towns have adopted a much less expensive solution — they moved their poles away from their Main Street, to a new “Primary Trunk Route”, off the Main St, but still on poles. In Southborough, the new Trunk Route might run to the north, behind the Police Station and behind Town Hall. Notably, these buildings are ALREADY served by cables from behind, on poles. Some sections of this Primary Trunk Route would have to be placed underground, for example through sections of St Marks and Fay Schools. The route would be along easements from the Fay School drive, all the way to Newton St / Boston Rd, where the new trunk would be reconnected to the existing trunk.

A “secondary” system of shorter poles would carry smaller cables to behind each building, both north and south of Main St, and those short poles can be placed along side lot lines, pathways, and behind trees (e.g. along Woodward School Drive). The scheme can INCLUDE the shops downtown, so every building is fed from the back instead of from the front. All changes in connections, from front to back of buildings, must be included in the overall project cost, and not become a new burden on an individual owner. That is fair, and it may go toward compensating business owners for the loss of business they will suffer over 3 years of road construction.

What is the cost of this alternative scheme? (Let us call it “THE NORTH PRIMARY TRUNK ROUTE”). The cost is unknown at this time, because it has not been evaluated. But similar schemes have been successful elsewhere.Town resident Mr Dennis Flynn has a home near such a town. IF APPLIED TO SOUTHBORO, THIS SCHEME MIGHT REDUCE THE LENGTH OF COSTLY UNDERGROUND DUCTS BY 70%. — as compared to the previous estimate of ducts running under Main St. Pole costs need to be added, depending on who pays — but these costs are likely far less in comparison to underground ducts.

In conclusion, is this alternative worth studying further, or not? St Mark’s and Fay Schools know about the scheme, and they are potentially interested. This is just one of the many issues that the Main St Review Committee could consider — besides all the issues of the road design, asphalt, common,trees, traffic volumes, etc — IF Town Meeting votes to establish the Committee. Your vote can count.

Just Curious
8 years ago
Reply to  David Parry

Mr. Parry,

Please advise who would incur the costs for moving the poles as you described above. Would the state pay for it? Would the taxpayers of Southborough pay for it through a surcharge on their utility bills?

Thank you.

David Parry
8 years ago

I have been asked the question: Who will pay for moving the poles — the State or the taxpayers? (This is in reference to the relocation of poles and cables, from Main St to a “North Trunk Route” — see letter above for a brief description, or send me an e mail for details.)

I do not have the specific answer. It is too preliminary. But I did ask the Town Administrator to please investigate, if he agreed that it might be worthwhile, and he apparently did agree, because he asked DPW, and DPW asked the Town’s engineering consultant VHB. We are still waiting for an answer …. which I expect will be complicated and nuanced, because of all the following issues:

Ignoring this new alternative scheme, the following will occur with poles:
1. Some existing poles will have to be moved TEMPORARILY, during re-construction of the street, because they are in the way of equipment.
2. Other poles will have to be moved PERMANENTLY, after reconstruction is completed, because of the new street layout.
3. ALL poles are going to be replaced with brand, new, taller poles — probably with more cables hanging from them, linking Marlborough and Westborough.

But in addition, IF this new alternative scheme is implemented, THEN:
4. Some costs could be saved during construction, because the poles could be moved out of the way BEFORE construction starts, thereby making construction a lot easier.
5. The utility companies would be saving some costs, because they would not be moving poles back and forth during construction.
6. Utility companies are usually held responsible for new pole installations, although this may not be regarded as “usual”.
7. The State DOT might be involved, because State regulations only forbid them to pay for “undergrounding” and they do not forbid State participation in pole relocation. But we can anticipate huge reluctance. This is probably a “grey” area.

ULTIMATELY, who pays may be a matter of tough negotiation. It might even involve State legislators. Certainly, it will require our future board of Selectmen to act pro-actively, and I remain hopeful because many are interested and looking for a less expensive solution. This might be it, or some variation. Or there may be technical problems and it may never happen. The only reason I remain hopeful is because this type of scheme has been done many times before, by other towns. So why not here?

———-
Now, let me finish by addressing the questioner (and anonymous commentator named “Curious”) on a MUCH MORE IMPORTANT ISSUE … “Curious” seems to be focused against costs and taxes, but not against the proposal (per se) to relocate poles. In other words, IF costs can be managed, THEN it is OK to relocate poles.

However, this is totally different to the position that “Curious” is taking on the MAIN STREET RECONSTRUCTION PROJECT itself. That position is unequivocal and has nothing to do with costs. “Curious” is opposed to the project. Period.

(Quote) “… we should do EVERYTHING we can to stop the widening of this road. A substantial part of the traffic coming into Southborough via Rt 30 is simply people trying to avoid using Rt 9 to get to Framingham ….. Widening the Rt30/Rt85 intersection will just lead to more people using Southborough as a cut through … ”

I quote this because this sentiment has a lot of company in Town. How do I know this? Because when I gathered about 160 signatures for the warrant article to set up a Review Committee, by vote at Town Meeting, I noticed that many residents agreed with the sentiments expressed by “Curious”. That was a surprise to me. But most residents knew little or nothing about the project. That was NO surprise to me, and is one of the reasons for the warrant article … to make residents aware of what is about to happen.

Al Hamilton
8 years ago

I am in favor of this sort of committee but I believe that to be effective it must be appointed by the BOS because ultimately, the BOS is the body that is responsible for the decision.

The committee must do its work quickly and should be focused on working within the constraints of not delaying the project and not derailing state funding.

This project has been on the drawing boards for close to 10 years. There have been a lot of discussion, including a substantial discussion about “undergrounding”. You cannot have had the substantial discussion about undergrounding without having the discussion about this project.

Let us be clear about the consequences of derailing the project. The section of Rt 30 in question is not in good condition and the underground storm and water infrastructure also requires upgrades and the logical, and most cost effective, time to do it is when the road is being torn up.

If the project is killed, some sort of large paving project will still be required. This would likely be done with “Chapter 90” money. Each year the town receives a sum of money from the state for road maintenance under “Chapter 90”. I recall that it is on the order of a few hundred thousand dollars. The DPW will typically bank this money for about 3 years until they can amass sufficient money to let a paving contract to repair and replace some of the streets in town. We also put some of our own tax revenue into these funds.

If we end up funding this project with Chapter 90 money it will take a lot of it and other paving priorities in town will have to be significantly delayed on the order of 3 to 5 years. The underground storm and water utilities will still have to be replace and the project will still be large.

So, let have a “design review” committee that has a focused mandate, which can include Mr. Parry’s suggestion that the poles be moved to the back of lots but, let us make the committees mandate clear, It reports to the BOS, It must act quickly, and it must be in support of the existing project.

Frank Crowell
8 years ago

How about a committee just get Main Street paved for now since I am sure we are looking at a 2018 project or beyond?

Larry Cain
8 years ago

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Deleted
8 years ago
Reply to  Larry Cain

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Deleted
8 years ago

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Deleted
8 years ago
Reply to  Deleted

Comment removed for apparent violation of comment policies:
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Vincent Valvo
8 years ago

I am a resident who abuts Main Street on Latisquama Rd. I am both interested and concerned about a plan to solve the dilemma of undergrounding the utility wires. Essentially, the latest plan is not to underground the wires along Main St. center, but for the wires to circumvent Main St. center.

While I remain open to this plan, I believe it is wise to delay judgment of its viability until all the facts are in. A big issue, of course, is the exact location of the poles. A mock up of the locations was made, but this drawing was only an example for discussion. A lot was left to the reader’s imagination for interpretation where those poles would actually be placed. I, for one, will likely decide my vote on the exact location of the poles.

The height of the poles is also an issue. Mr. Cain, in his thoughtful assessment, has stated that the poles behind the lots would be shorter. This is clearly better, but questions remain. How much shorter would the poles be? What access would be necessary to service the poles on maintenance, emergency, and new service installation bases?

Mr. Cain also brought up the issue that the cost of undergrounding (of the original plan) would be paid by consumers of the utilities and stretched out over a considerable amount of time. I would like to know more about those details.

I look forward to hearing specific and real information. In addition, I thank everyone who has been working on this project over the years. There are considerable good intentions invested in this process, but it would be unfair to solve a problem for some while burdening others with a new problem.

Karen Connell
8 years ago

I wish to thank everyone who have taken the time to comment on this issue, I find it informative. Perhaps one of you can tell me, will there be any maintenance on Main Street in the interim?

Deleted
8 years ago

Comment removed for apparent violation of comment policies:
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Al Hamilton
8 years ago
Reply to  Deleted

Maryanne

This project has been on the drawing board for close to 10 years and has in fact been reviewed publically numerous times and the BOS, which is the responsible executive, has taken the decision to move forward. Any committee that is appointed should be appointed by the BOS because they are the body responsible for the decision. Much as I like Town Meeting, and I do, I do not think they have the authority to remove the responsibility for managing the town’s roads from the BOS short of using the power of the purse. Any committee appointed by the Moderator under a mandate from Town Meeting would be toothless.

I am in favor of appointing a Design Review Committee. However, I believe its mandate should be limited to review and comment on the existing design with the understanding that the state funded project will go forward on time. The committee must complete its work in a timely way and while they could consider alternative plans for utilities, if they cannot come up with specifics about who pays for the alternative then the default plan should proceed.

Rt 30 is in poor condition, however, the idea that we can just slap a coat of macadam on and make things better for a few years is not realistic. Repaving will require tearing up the road so that the new surface is more or less level with the old surface because there are a drainage and utility devices that are already installed at that level.

The typical life of a town road in our community is on the order of 20-25 years if it is maintained. The idea that we are going to go to the expense of repaving Rt 30 and then tear it up in 3-5 years is wasteful in the extreme.

Those that want to use our scarce tax dollars and Chapter 90 money to repave Rt 30 should have the courage to say what roads will not be getting paved in the next paving cycle as a result. The good folks living on those roads may see things in a different light.

Tim Martel
8 years ago
Reply to  Al Hamilton

Al,

To quote you – “its mandate should be limited to review and comment on the existing design with the understanding that the state funded project will go forward on time”

Why? If the current design is such a winner, then it can stand a fair review by the townsfolk. Give the committee the time it needs. I’d rather risk losing the state money, than risk losing the unique appeal of our town center.

Also, I agree that there is value in the BOS appointing the committee – so long as its members are citizens at large.

Steve Phillips
8 years ago

Mr. Hamilton, while I understand the sentiment, it seems that you are suggesting that any committee appointed to review this project should be prohibited from considering any idea which might interfere in any way with the current proposed timeline for this road. This restriction seems: A) unnecessary, since the role of any committee would be to make recommendations to the Board of Selectmen, which could make its own decisions; and B) crippling, since any potential recommendation by the committee could be shot down in advance by the argument that this might delay the project. In fact, this was the very argument Selectman Boland used in front of the Planning Board on Feb. 10 when this proposal was first raised: that town residents could not consider ANY changes to the current design because it might delay the overall project.

I understand that the start date of this project has now slipped another year into 2018, although for some reason the town is rushing forward with the 25% hearing this April anyway. It seems to me that the biggest risk to this entire project is if the state backs off due to significant disagreement in the town. If these issues are not worked out before the state hearing, they will be aired during the meeting. We would be far better off resolving these issues between ourselves before any hearing, and presenting a design to the state which has been approved by the new Board of Selectmen. The current design has evolved from the last design which was approved by the BOS, so it is not accurate to say that this design has BOS approval.

My suggestion is as follows:

1. That a residents’ committee be established at town meeting with the goal of presenting a set of recommendations to the BOS within a specified timeframe (e.g. 4 to 6 months).

2. That all five members of the new BOS consider these recommendations and subsequently vote on whether to approve a design for Main Street, either in its current form or with modifications.

3. That the State 25% hearing be scheduled ONLY after steps 1 and 2 have occurred. This will ensure that the town can present a consensus to the state, based on a design which has been reviewed by town residents and approved by the BOS.

Why are we taking the trouble to expand our Board of Selectmen to five members if we are not going to let this board take a position on the most important road construction project our town has seen in decades? This reconstruction will cause YEARS of disruption to our entire town and will make permanent changes to our historic town center. This project is far important for us to all just close our eyes, hold our noses, and hope for the best.

Finally, pitting one road project against another is not an appropriate way to resolve the Main Street issue. I am happy for the residents of Latisquama and School Street who got their roads repaved last year, just as I am happy that Southborough has a quality school system even though I don’t have children attending there. Our tax dollars are spent for the benefit of our town as a whole. The Main Street redesign is a significant project which will impact every citizen of Southborough for years to come, and this design merits serious consideration by both town residents and our new Board of Selectmen.

Al Hamilton
8 years ago
Reply to  Steve Phillips

Mr Phillips

It is no secret that I am running for Selectman, and involving myself in this discussion is probably not a smart political thing to do but I am what I am.

1. The basic decision to do this project has been made. Absent a major change in scope or cost I don’t think there is any reason reopen that decision. I spent about 2 hours looking over the plans that are on the DPW site and they look more or less like what I recall was proposed.

2. The 25% plan is a very logical place to do a final design review and “final tweeks” which might include Mr. Parry’s suggestion of alternate routing of poles. However, any tweeks have to fit in the State budget and time frame.

3. I agree that the planned date of the hearing is a disgrace and should be move. I believe this is a State run affair and perhaps you should consider contacting our state reps.

4. There is no political will in town to pay for undergrounding or alternative routing of power either by taxes or utility surcharge or a special tax zone. After 10 years or so no one has come close to a viable scheme for funding an alternative. Any proposal along these lines has to have a definitive plan for financing that does not include tax dollars or utility surcharges. (Yes, I know that is a tall order)

5. As for pitting neighborhood against neighborhood. I am afraid we have to disagree. There is a plan in place to pave Rt 30 that is part of an overall paving plan for the town. If you want to change that plan and have Rt 30 paved with Chapter 90 funds in the next cycle (the only one that matters) then it is a reality that some other paving project (and there are a lot of them) will have to be bumped and some other road in town will continue to decay. Those are facts.

6. Finally the committee – If you do not have the Selectmen on Board then this is a fools errand. I don’t think there is a strong desire to re open this can of worms any further than absolutely necessary. The smart thing, politically, is to say we made a decision and now it is time to move on.

7. Finally a small but important consideration. The position of the head of the superintendent of the DPW was created by Special Legislation in 1991. The position is only answerable to the BOS. Town meeting has no authority to direct the day to day activities of the Superintendent of the DPW including cooperation with a TM appointed committee.

In summary, I am in favor of a design review but not a design to delay and, the BOS must be on board or it is just a waste of time and effort.

Maryanne Adamson
8 years ago

ONLY ONE SHORT SECTION OF MAIN ST NEEDS RESURFACING.

Mr Hamiilton again confuses issues.

I did NOT suggest resurfacing ALL of Main St. I suggested resurfacing ONLY ONE HALF OF ONE BLOCK …FROM LATISQUAMA to the Police Station. Only that short piece is literally falling apart. The other sections (e.g. in front of Fay School) are fine for many years.

What does Mr Hamilton suggest doing about that section….let it fall apart totally. ? If you wait much longer, then Hamilton, who is fond of nitpicking dollars and cents, WILL BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR GREATLY INCREASING TOWN COSTS BECAUSE YOU WAITED TOO LONG AND, IN A YEAR OR LESS, THIS SECTION WILL HAVE TO BE DUG UP AT TRIPLE THE COST OF A MUCH CHEAPER RESURFACING . It will not last another 5 years.

So, what exactly do you, Hamilton, as a ‘prospective Selectman, intend to do about THIS section . ? Let it fall apart and become a public embarrassment to the whole town ?

Al Hamilton
8 years ago

Dear Ms. Anderson:

First, as a prospective Selectman I have no authority. We have 3 able people who currently fill that role. Secondly, it may be impolitic to say but I have no intention of pandering for votes and telling you what you want to hear. What you will get from me is straight talk. Let us see if we can agree on a few things first.

1. I believe that Anna (below) made an excellent point. Slapping a coat of asphalt over the existing surface is not a solution. For the job to last more than 1 winter the roadway has to be rebuilt.

2. The section you suggest is about 3000 Sq Yards. At $50/yard (which is a rough estimate) the costs is about $150,000 (roads are expensive).

3. I believe that repaving contracts are let about every 3 years after we accumulate enough Chapter 90 money and monies from our taxes to economically fund. The last contract was let in the Fall of 2012 and begun in 2013 according to the town report. If we follow the current pattern, the next window is 2015 or 2016.

I hope we can agree this far.

4. I do not know if there is a temporary fix that can be effective but I will inquire. My suspicion is that there is not.

5. I am known as a notorious cheap skate. It may surprise you to know that, during my time on Advisory and Capital Budget that I have consistently argued that we have underfunded our contributions to the funds that supplement our chapter 90 money. I have consistently argued that it is cheaper to properly maintain our capital assets than it is to purchase new ones. It is, however, more politically difficult.

6. So, what it comes down to is a proposal to spend about $150,000 for a 2-3 year fix. I will investigate if there is a different alternative but I would not offer you false hope.

As for holding me responsible for the decay of the section of road you described I am a bit bemused. At no time, to date, have I held a position of responsibility that would have put me in charge making a decision about what roads would or would not be repaired and I have consistently argued for more funds for road maintenance.

If you care to seek vengeance on me at the polls for my views that is your right but I hope you will give me credit for being forthright about my views.

Anna
8 years ago

Maryanne, that road will need to be dug up regardless! Slapping a coat of asphalt on that section would be a waste as it would break up almost immediately without a proper, stable base. This action would not reduce costs down the line as the road already needs to be brought down to dirt level during reconstruction. A temporary fix of a layer of asphalt (which broke down quickly even though it was not as bad as some of Main St) then later resurfacing down to dirt within a few years happened on the south side of Parkervillle over the last decade I recall. The asphalt layer did not prevent the inevitable.

I definitely understand your frustration however!

Karen Connell
8 years ago

Letting Main Street crumble (intentionally or not) goes against the grain of what it means to be a community.

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8 years ago

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Al Hamilton
8 years ago
Reply to  Deleted

1. You proposed that we replace the section from Latisquama to the Fire Station. The distance from the Eastern edge of the Latisquama/Rt 30 intersection to the Western Fire Station Driveway is about 270 yards according to Google Earth.

2. A standard road in Mass is 24 ft wide. Shoulders are about 2-3 ft each. When I measured using Goolge Earth the road and shoulder width was about 10 Yards which is consistent.

3. 270 Yards X 10 Yards is 2700 Sq Yards. I rounded up to 3000 Sq yards to account for curb cuts and some extra at the intersection. It is an estimate.

4. Yesterday I went to see for my self. The section you describe is in terrible condition. Frankly, the remainder from Newton St to Rt 85 is little better and if we apply any treatment to the section you describe we should probably apply the same treatment to that section.

It is clear to me that you are unalterably opposed to the State Project and would like to derail it. That is your right. So, lets explore the alternatives.

1. Chapter 90/Town Funds – The road repairs under terms you would consider more favorable could be done in the next paving contract perhaps in 2015. It still makes sense to replace the ancient water lines and storm water system when the road is torn up so this will be a large project regardless. I suspect that this project would consume a significant portion of the funds for this cycle which means that other paving priorities in town would have to be delayed by about 3 years.

2. You could author a warrant article to borrow the funds to build the road. This will require a 2/3 vote at town meeting and a vote at the ballot. This would not impact other paving priorities but would raise taxes.

3. You could offer up a set of budget cuts that would free up the funds to build the road. This would not effect other neighborhoods paving plans and would only require a majority vote of town meeting and would not raise taxes.

4. You could suggest that we sell a town owned building to generate the required funds. I believe that this would require a vote of town meeting.

As for my being a gutless wonder, I can assure you that I have an ample gut.

jim foley
8 years ago
Reply to  Al Hamilton

Al I have not laughed that hard in quite awhile. I love the ample gut humor.

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8 years ago

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Louise Clough
8 years ago

(I don’t know when you all have time to write all this!) As a resident of Main Street (between Latisquama and Route 85), I would really like to see the road (and sidewalk on the South side) repaired. Perhaps a curb-stone would keep cars from parking on the sidewalk. And I would also like to point out that Mr.Cain misquoted what I said in an email, sensationalizing what I said about the poles being moved from Main Street to an area back of some of the houses. I know he is talking about me, as only my house and David Parry’s are on the school path. I did not call the poles “ugly” and did not say that they would be in my yard – just that the wires to my house would cut across my back yard. I was also concerned with utility company access to the homes, as well as the need for a power-line road on the Woodward School property.

Vincent Valvo
8 years ago

It is easy to argue that widening Main St. will attract more traffic to the town. The traffic is not just an inconvenience. More traffic means the streets are less safe.

A popular phrase that has now been adopted in our colloquial jargon is “if you build it, he [they] will come.” While that may be a “field of dreams” in the movie because builders were seeking visitors, in our case it would be anything but a dream. We would like to limit our pass-through traffic. As long as a convenient bypass exists for Rte. 9 overflow, they will come. By widening the street, more will come. Even with our broken down Main St., the passers-through use the street at different times of the day, including when parents are dropping off their kids at Woodward via the Main St. walkway access. I don’t have to tell you how hazardous this can be – but I just did.

The fact is that if one has a desirable workaround it will continue to be filled until it no longer serves its purpose. I know people who go out of their way to use Rte. 495 at commute time as a way to circumvent Rte. 128. As has been written by many, we are seeing the same effect on our streets, but not just Main St. Other streets carry residual traffic once drivers turn off Main St.

On a related matter, I would be in favor of fixing the broken down parts of Main St. as soon as weather permits. Such parts are an embarrassment and a hazard. We’ve all had the displeasure of driving this stretch. Cyclists have a more difficult job of managing the road. To avoid the broken parts of the road and sidewalk and/or parked cars, I’ve seen cyclists swerve into the car lane. It’s not hard. Since there is no bike path, cyclists are generally cycling in a car lane! I would hope that we would be proactive to fix this problem before an accident occurs.

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8 years ago

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Al Hamilton
8 years ago

Mr. Parker:

1. The first time that I heard about the plan to replace the water lines when Main St was rebuilt was from John Boland when he was DPW Supervisor (that should give you some idea of how long this issue had been on the table). It was his assessment then that this was the plan. I think it would be a real shame if 2 months or 2 years after Main Street was repaved it was dug up to fix a leak. Anyone who has ever driven in the North knows that a road that is dug up is never the same again until fully repaved. I leave it to the folks who are responsible for our infrastructure to make those judgements.

2. I find it amusing that I am pilloried for a decision I did not have any role in making. Indeed, I have suggested at least 4 ways that those who are opposed to this program might reasonably proceed.

3. I believe that the current proposal is doomed to failure regardless of its merits. The reason for this is that Town Meeting lacks the authority to enact it. The article directs the DPW to do certain things including cooperating with the committee. Unfortunately, Town Meeting, in my opinion, does not have the authority to do this. State Law gives the power to set policy for the DPW exclusively to the BOS. This is enshrined in the Special Legislation that established the DPW. Town Meeting cannot override state law and state law says that setting DPW policies and priorities is an inherent right of the BOS.

Even in the unlikely event that such a committee was formed the BOS would be under no obligation to consider its findings. That is the reason why I believe that if such a committee was formed it should be formed by the BOS.

5. If you wish to use Town Meeting as a forum for an alternative plan you need to use the powers inherent in Town Meeting. The big hammer you have is the budget. Get 75 people that agree with you and vote down a budget and make it clear that you will continue to do so unless the Selectmen change their minds. Politics is a blood sport and you have a big hammer.

5. For the record, my biggest concern about a review is that it will be used as a vehicle to derail the opportunity to have the state pay for repaving Rt 30. If there was some set of facts that was substantially different from the facts in play when the BOS originally approved this project then a reevaluation would be in order. I am not aware of any facts that meet this standard.

5. As for Pine Hill Road, you are partially correct. Pine Hill Road is a narrow road that is a major cut through from Rt 20 to Rt 30. A group of neighbors, including me, was concerned about truck traffic on a narrow road particularly in light of a major development proposed for the area. There had already been several school bus accidents on Pine Hill Road. We approached the BOS and the DPW. We found out that in order to exclude truck traffic we needed to make a measurement of truck traffic. The neighbors along with town officials and the police made the measurement and we fell short of the threshold and moved on. A few years later the road was repaved and the traffic is now heavier than in the past and we have moved on.

In the 18 years I have lived in town, our taxes have nearly tripled, our budget is seriously constrained to the point where we struggle to find the money for service providers such as teachers, police officers and firefighters. We have on the books significant liabilities that we have no real plan for meeting those obligations. We have been consistently underfunding the maintenance of our infrastructure while we are taxing Senior Citizens out of town.

My motivation is leaning toward state funding of an important infrastructure is informed by my overall understanding of town finance.

My motivation in trying to make sure we do not threaten the opportunity to have State Funding for this project is driven by

Steve Phillips
8 years ago

There are several interesting conclusions to be drawn from Al Hamilton’s recent posts to My Southborough:

1. According to Mr. Hamilton’s estimates, Main Street could be repaved at a very small overall cost compared to other alternatives. Mr. Hamilton estimated 3000 square yards at $50 per yard for a total cost of $150,000. To put this in perspective, this is less than two percent of the current number being floated JUST FOR UNDERGROUNDING. Repaving costs will be a minuscule fraction of the cost of the current massive State redesign. Please don’t forget that, even as a State-funded project, road construction will be paid for by tax dollars including our own. The only difference is that the residents of every other city and town in Massachusetts will be forced to pitch in to pay for our own local boondoggle.

2. This project could be funded at least partially by state funds under Chapter 90, reducing its cost to the town.

3. Repaving Main Street ourselves would allow us to control our own fate, by eliminating the onerous restrictions the State is trying to impose on us. Additionally, repaving would preserve the existing history and heritage of Main Street. When this project is finished, we would still have a country road winding through our town center instead of an asphalt speedway connecting Framingham to Westborough.

Given these three conclusions, this is absolutely a no-brainer: repaving Main Street under Chapter 90 funding should be carefully evaluated as a serious alternative to the State redesign.

Mr. Hamilton raised the concern that this project would derail existing Chapter 90 resurfacing projects. However, I don’t understand why this would be the case. Any State reconstruction won’t start until 2018 at the earliest and will last for 2 to 3 years, so we’re probably looking well into the 2020s before a reconstruction would be complete. Even if we don’t repave Main Street until 2018 or 2019, we will still beat the state project by YEARS, and with very minor inconvenience to residents and businesses. We can work the Main Street reconstruction into the Chapter 90 schedule based on its overall priority to the town as a whole, without any need to delay any other repaving project which is more important. And Mr. Hamilton can rest assured — we won’t have to sell off any town buildings to do it.

The more serious objection to this idea is “Why pay for repaving when we can get the State to pay for a reconstruction for free?” My response is that we all know that NOTHING IS FREE. Just to cite one example, how much revenue is going to be lost to our existing downtown businesses during a 3-year massive reconstruction project? Has a formal estimate ever been prepared? I can guess that this lost revenue could easily add up to millions of dollars over three years, with the prospect that some downtown businesses could never recover, and we could end up with more chain-link fences and overgrown vacant lots in our town center. And this is just one small portion of the hidden costs which will be paid for by Southborough residents and businesses, both while the project is underway and for decades after it is completed.

The State has a very simple motto: “Our way AND the highway.” The current design makes NO consideration for the existing antique homes, businesses, town buildings, Churches, schools, historic markers (of which there are at least two in this stretch), graveyards, memorials or town commons. None of these things matter one bit to the State. Instead, they demand that we agree to a cookie-cutter plan which is design by bulldozer. According to Dave Parker’s well-researched recent post, the State considers that TIP funds are “Not suitable for local historic or downtown districts or beautification” due to their impact on existing neighborhoods. I wonder why Southborough’s most historic local road should be the lone exception.

I understand that after considering both the direct and indirect costs of each option, we could decide that the advantages of doing this project ourselves don’t outweigh the costs to the town, and if that’s the case, so be it. However, there is no question that doing our own repaving is worth serious consideration and could easily be the best option we have in front of us.

Steve Phillips

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8 years ago

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Al Hamilton
8 years ago
Reply to  Deleted

Mr. Parker

I have suggested 5 different ways which have a chance of successfully achieving your goals. The one currently on the table, a committee formed by Town Meeting, will fail in my opinion for reasons I have already suggested.

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8 years ago

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8 years ago

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Al Hamilton
8 years ago

Mr. Cain

While your observations have substantial merit, the choice you suggest is not on the table.

The choice is to fund the project the way the state wants it done using state money or not. If we choose no, the state will allocate those funds to some other project in some other community.

We in turn will have to take funds currently planned for other road projects in town and use them repave Rt 30. That means that other paving priorities will be delayed.

That is the choice.

Tim Martel
8 years ago
Reply to  Al Hamilton

If the choice is to use state funds to turn Rt 30 into a commuter corridor, or use our own funds to do it the right way…I think the choice is an easy one. I don’t know how you can compare the impact of a massive increase in commuter traffic versus a relatively small delay for a few other paving projects in town.

If it was a simple road paving/construction issue, I’d agree to just let the BOS handle the whole thing. But this project threatens to alter the character of the town in a potentially awful way.

Al Hamilton
8 years ago
Reply to  Tim Martel

Tim:

This discussion is about choices.

A few days ago I made a public records request and received the paving and road maintenance priorities list from the DPW. (NOTE: This list is VERY preliminary and will only be ranked in priority after mud season is over and the DPW reviews the conditions of all the roads in town there will be additions and deletions to the list.)

The list includes roads that require maintenance and those requiring repaving. The preliminary list includes : Framingham Rd, Cordaville, Nathan Stone, Breakneck Hill, Heather, Darlene, Vale, Fisher, Henry Knox, John Mathews, Cherry, Pleasant, Deerfoot, Eastbrook Farm, Ledge Hill, Wyeth, Whistler, Pinecone, Maplecrest, Waterview Terr., MacNeil, Birchwood, Stub Toe, Davis, Ashley, Constitiution, Independence, Liberty, Wentworth, Strawberry Hill, Bigelow, Winchester, Walker, and Upland. Please note that in addition to these roads Main St is on the list.

My point is that if we choose to fund the Rt 30 project with Chapter 90 and Local Tax monies then some of the above paving priorities or a similar list which will exist next year or the year after will have to be postponed. Which roads would you choose to defer maintenance on?

There are alternatives, I have suggested several that could reasonably be done. If, for example, we chose to cut the budget in other areas we could free up a fair amount of money that could very reasonably be spent on road maintenance. Which would you choose? Would, for example you prefer 1 less teacher and 1 less firefighter? Those are the real choices.

Those advocating using chapter 90 and local tax monies for Rt 30 really should stand up and say what projects they would defer in favor of this project or which services they would cut or what taxes they would raise. Those are the real choices.

Southsider
8 years ago

Not sure why simply extending the green light time for each light cycle for the Route 9 traffic wouldn’t alleviate some of the backup. Why is it that the Central/ Oak Hill traffic never waits for more than one cycle while the rush hour Route 9 drivers wait for two or three? Certainly a very cheap potential solution. Maybe the lights at the old Verizon site would need adjusting too and the lights at the Sheraton in Framingham but after those the traffic disperses … Just a thought

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8 years ago

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David Pary
8 years ago

WARNINGS OF CONSEQUENCES OF STATE FUNDING

What did this project start out as, ten plus years ago ? It was very simple — replacing sidewalks on the south side of two blocks, between Middle Rd and Latisquama Rds, and a few drain and road repairs. That’s it.

I know this because I was a Selectman at that time. I clearly remember our former Sup of DPW (John Boland) warning me that Southborough should NEVER apply for State funding for Main St, because the State rules were rigid and would force us to accept a much larger road and intersection than we would want, and we would become trapped into becoming a bigger commuter corridor.

Well, the Board at that time listened to him, so we did NOT apply to the State. DPW used local funds to replace the north sidewalk, and planted new trees. (Those trees may not be the most appropriate species, but they can be replaced). Then we started saving up local funds to deal with the south sidewalks and some drains, principally near the Library.

But then both the Selectmen and DPW changed. Later officials decided to apply for State funds. So what happened as a result? We now have Southborough’s Big Dig, courtesy of the State, and we have been fighting over the consequences ever since. But there has been a refusal to acknowledge the cause and deal with it.

What is the solution? We need to recognize the cause (rigid rules from state funding) and conduct a peer review, by an independent consultant, for two tasks: (1) to try to improve on the State plan, pushing the limits of state rules which require everything to be new and much larger than we want; and (2) to prepare an alternative plan WITHOUT State funding, going right back to the basics, following our own rules, and trying to minimize change and save local character. THIS WILL BE THE “POLAR OPPOSITE” OF THE STATE PLAN AND IT WILL COST A SMALL FRACTION. This will give us a real choice, and voters can decide in a year’s time which plan they prefer.

We literally put all our eggs in one basket (the State), and we lost control. Is this how you would run a business ? We need a choice.

RB
8 years ago

Wake up folks, here is a reality check: Route 30, a state-numbered highway, is already a commuter road! And yes, it is used as a shortcut when Route 9 is plugged. That is a result of the new world that we live in where GPS, navigation systems and smart phone apps direct us around traffic jams and issues.

I am sure that there are a number of hypocrites posting here that don’t want Route 30 used as a shortcut, but I am willing to bet they use, or have used numerous Southborough neighborhoods as well as streets in other communities as shortcuts, or to avoid traffic. I do it myself all of the time! How do you think the residents of those other neighborhoods and/or communities feel?? Probably just like you! It is ok to do it in other communities/neighborhoods, but let’s put the gates up here so others can’t do the same thing?

Like it or not, Al Hamilton is correct. This project has been ongoing for a number of years. Many public meetings have been held to vet the process.

Karen Connell
8 years ago

I do not care for the moniker “BIG DIG” applied to this (Southborough Main Street) topic. It is not a true analogy. Boston’s BIG DIG was an arduous process but the end result was a city transformed for the BETTER. Highways and overpasses turned into public green space for pedestrians, community, and business growth. The Big Dig wasn’t just to move more cars through a city. It was to beautify, harmonize, and to restore to green what was once concrete and asphalt. Here, in Southborough, we are proposing to do the exact opposite: turn to asphalt what is now green. Am I misunderstanding the plan/mission? Please all weigh in…..

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8 years ago

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Steve Phillips
8 years ago

Main Street residents are not objecting to our street’s current function as a shortcut to route 9. Plenty of bypass traffic flows down our street every day. The question at hand is whether it is in the town’s best interest to rip this road up and build a significantly larger highway, which will divert much higher volumes of traffic away from route 9 and through our town’s oldest and most historically significant neighborhood. Have you noticed the changes happening around route 9, where dense, ugly new developments are pushing into established neighborhoods and crowding out older housing? You are seeing a preview of what will happen to Main Street over the next 20 years if this project is built. I hope that Southborough residents will seriously consider whether this is really what we want for our town’s future.

Anna
8 years ago

I understand everyone’s concern about reconstruction. Everyone fears change and dislikes inconvenience. Prior to moving to Southborough 15 years ago, I was a resident of Wellesley. During the years that I was there, there was a similar proposal and construction effort undertaken for Rt 16. After completion, the new roads, curbing, crosswalks, and lights made a dramatic improvement in appearance, vehicle turns, safe traffic flow and pedestrian safety. Believe me, those folks in Wellesley care about the same types of issues as we do here in Southborough. As a resident who has pride in Southborough and who drives the Rt 85/30 intersection four times a day, I can’t wait!

Al Hamilton
8 years ago

I spent another hour looking at the plans on the DPW website to try and understand this project that is so devastating to the existential being of our Community.

The prints are here http://www.southboroughtown.com/dpw/dpw/Main%20Street/Main%20Street%20Reconstruction25ReSubmission.pdf for all to see.

Let’s start at the east end and focus on the heart of the matter “downtown” to Rt 85. Going from East to West, the project starts 5 to 10 feet West (towards 85) of Mauro’s market. From the start until Park St there is no meaningful widening.

The Park St intersection appears to be narrower than the existing intersection.

From Park St to Latisquama the north side of the road is about 5 ft wider mostly on the north side. The Sidewalks on the north side are basically in the same place they are today and on the South side actually extend into the space currently used by the road.

The Main – School St intersection is wider by about 10 ft.

The Main – Latisquama intersection is not significantly different.

From Latisquama to the Fire Station – The road is basically the same width as it is today.

In front of the Fire station there is some minor changes on the north side of the road but the basic width is unchanged.

From the Fire Station to Rt 85 – On the North side of Rt 30 the road begins to gradually widen to create room to turn right (about 12 ft) from 30 Eastbound to 85 Northbound. 85 Northbound is widened by 5-10 ft on the East side for about 200 ft. On the South Side of Rt 30 the road is unchanged until about 30 ft before the existing intersection. The intersection is widened by about 15 ft to permit right turns. From the south Rt 85 is gradually widened on the east side starting about 200 ft from 30. On the West side it is widened by a few feet. There is a modest widening of the North West side of the intersection to create room for right hand turns on to 30 West.

The 30 -85 intersection in total increases the pavement about 0.2 Acres. This is the biggest impact in this section.

I will attempt to describe the project from the 85/30 intersection West in a separate post.

These are the changes that will devastate our community.

Deleted
8 years ago

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Mark Ford
8 years ago
Reply to  Deleted

What??

I served with Mr. Hamilton for 8 or 9 years on Advisory, and I too have followed this issue, though from afar. A couple of things…Al has offered at least four (I think it might be five) ways of countermanding the expansion proposal. Have the Selectmen supported the expansion? I think Al correctly points out that it is in the Selectmen’s purview, and that committee’s alone, to approve or disapprove of the plan. Hence a “review committee” not endorsed by the Selectmen would have little influence.

He also offers a robust solution: if you’re against this plan, get 74 of your Southborough neighbors and friends to show up at Town Meeting and simply vote it down. That strikes me as about the number needed, sorry to say. Make it clear to the Selectmen that you will continue to vote down these plans until they offer one more to your liking–again, sensible, democratic advice.

I honestly didn’t read much of your post, which seemed overly vitriolic. Are you posting under your real name? I am, and Al is. I respect Al for his opinion and his consideration of the issues.

Al is also right to point out that if we turn down state money for this project, it will mean that we either have to tax more to get “our version” of Main Street done, find another funding source (!), do nothing about Main Street for several years, or push back some other repaving projects. Of course–these are the only options. I suppose we can try and lobby the state to build a project more to our liking, but I gather that the chance of this working is quite slim.

I for one appreciate that Al has put forward his opinion, with his rationale, for debate. Have any other sitting Selectmen or candidates done the same? Not that I’ve seen.

Al, if you need another signature on your nomination papers, count me in. Oh, and by the way, we’ll once again have to agree to disagree on this particular issue, since I am certainly not in favor of the proposed changes to Main Street. I do have a suggestion, though:

We should have the proposed changes surveyed, and have those roadway changes taped up, so we all can see the net result of the changes if they were enacted. I personally don’t want “turning lanes” in our town center, any more than I want the Fay School turkeys forcibly removed from their Rte. 30/Parkerville haunt. If keeping our town character means slowing down for the occasional sleeping dog on Main Street, I for one am in all in favor.

Thanks for the work, Al.

Matthew
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark Ford

Could have done with this part Mark, “I honestly didn’t read much of your post, which seemed overly vitriolic. Are you posting under your real name? I am, and Al is. I respect Al for his opinion and his consideration of the issues.”

Thanks for wanting to get the plans posted too, it’s a great idea. If someone could point me to the drawings I could produce some foam core boards to put up at the dump.

Deleted
8 years ago

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Deleted
8 years ago

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Deleted
8 years ago

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