School & Main intersection sight line improved

Above: This week the DPW removed part of the stone wall at a Main Street intersection (photos by Beth & Joao Melo)

School and Main intersection on June 14 (by Joao Melo)I was excited to see a change at the corner of School Street and Main Street this week. A section of the stone wall on the east side of the intersection has been lowered. (Click image right to enlarge.)

I checked in with DPW Superintendent Karen Galligan for status and background. She confirmed that a contractor will finish the work started by her staff.

Sometime during the 2021 construction season, the stone wall at the intersection was rebuilt as part of the Main Street Reconstruction project.* But the new wall was much higher than the original. (See my before and after images below.)

Old view of School and Main from Google Maps Old view of School and Main from Google Maps School and Main intersection on June 1st (by Beth Melo)

For those crossing or turning onto Main Street, the new wall limited the view of oncoming traffic from the left. According to Galligan, a resident raised the safety issue. The DPW agreed with the concern and contacted MassDOT which oversaw the project. They had a new design developed.

Apparently, the contractor for the state’s Main Street project was the same one who was contracted by the Town to work on the Various Streets project. The latter project included the downtown area east of the state project. For a better rate of return, the bid was bundled with the St. Mark’s Street and park project and the intersection at Deerfoot and Flagg roads.

The latter projects have run into delays as the Select Board determines how to proceed with public objections.

Galligan wrote:

The Contractor told me he would make the adjustment when he was back in Town for the rest of the remaining Main Street small items, or when he was back for the Various Streets project.  Unfortunately, the changes to the Various Streets project has delayed their return.  I checked with MassDOT and the contractor to see if there were fiscal or contractual issues if the DPW brought the wall down.  We got the okay so we did it.  When the contractor is back he will finish the wall.

That may be soon. At their meeting this week, the Select Board urged that the contractor should proceed on the sections of the contracted work not related to St. Mark’s Street and Deerfoot.

*Galligan wasn’t sure when the wall was installed in 2021, but my photos show it was prior to Heritage Day. (I guess my travel patterns had changed for a while, since I didn’t notice the site line issue until about a month ago. I was considering whether and how to approach the Town about the issue.)

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Longtime Observer
14 days ago

Fantastic! It is great to see infrastructural work that improves both aesthetics and safety, thanks to the work of the DPW in the case of the wall, and to the Main Street Project overall in the case of crosswalks, ADA-compliant sidewalks, and turning lanes. The latter project was much-maligned and actively obstructed for years, but this taxpayer is glad the work was done. The intersection of Main and 85 is vastly improved and it has not become the Los Angeles Freeway that was prognosticated. Thank you to those who see these things through!

Still Evolving
13 days ago

With all due respect, I am trying to parse the juxtaposition of two stories in the June 18 edition. Perhaps I have misunderstood. I HOPE I have misunderstood. But it sounds like we just extended the employment contract for 3 more years to keep in place a Department of Public Works Director who oversaw the building—with taxpayer funds—of a wall too tall for safe sight lines. And now the same Director is supervising the dismantling of the same wall, again with taxpayer dollars, to render the sight lines safe (the way they were before this Director authorized the too tall wall to be built). Do I have that right or did I miss something? It seems to me that walls and sight lines are pretty basic, like Public Works 101. Can we find somebody who gets it right the first time and is a better steward of our dollars? Please set me straight if I have this wrong. Thank you.

Al Hamilton
11 days ago

I agree, this new intersection and road are significantly better than what was there before. Next time we hear about the loss of our rural heritage it would be good to compare the old inefficient and dilapidated mess that was there before with the nice road we have now.

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