Friday, October 12, 2007
Safety Committee plans makeovers for three intersections
The Traffic Safety Committee, consisting of Police Chief John Sullivan, Fire Chief David Flannery, DPW Manager Gary Davis and Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie, presented recommendations to the Selectmen on Tuesday, October 9 for the improvement of three Carlisle intersections. The most substantive change would be to the intersection of Concord Street and Church Street, which would receive a sharper turn, better curbing and a sidewalk along the south side of Church Street.
The other two intersections to be addressed are Brook Street and Bedford Road, where a telephone pole in the island is a barrier to school bus and fire truck access, and Orchard Acres at Lowell Street where sight lines are bad. Solutions will be presented to abutters for relocation of the Brook Street pole, and a plan for re-engineering the Orchard Acres intersection will be devised so that cars entering from Orchard Acres can be more easily visible to traffic on Lowell Street.
The recommendation for the Church-Concord Street intersection is to extend the sidewalk to make the turn from Concord onto Church a sharper angle so cars making the turn must slow down. Currently, a wide berm means cars take the corner too fast, according to Sullivan, endangering pedestrians and cars exiting Church Street driveways. In addition, a sidewalk would be added on the south side to extend from Concord to School Street. The sidewalk would be four feet wide with a one-foot grassy area between it and the street with 18-feet street width maintained. A Concord Street sidewalk that currently passes in front of a mailbox and telephone pole would be rerouted behind these obstacles.
Selectmen Chair Tim Hult immediately raised the question of speed along that section of Concord Street heading toward the center, and wondered if a lower speed limit or additional signage would help. Sullivan said the speed limit may be as low as possible for compliance with rules for state roads, but he will look into alternatives. Selectman Doug Stevenson noted that when he visited the corner, he observed, "not one car going by Church Street at 25 miles per hour, [they were going] more like 35 or 40." Sullivan confirmed that a police investigation had found "50 percent of drivers were going more than ten miles per hour over the speed limit."
Liz Carpenter, who lives on Concord Road across from the intersection, said, "I see a lot of accidents....I'm surprised there aren't more. People do whip around the corner." Sullivan noted that the change which made Church Street one-way between Concord and Westford Streets has reduced accidents to only one in two years.
Pathways prompt debate
One issue that brought the committee in disagreement with the Pathways Committee, also present, was the curbing to be employed. The Traffic Committee recommended high curbing at the corner, ending at the first Church Street driveway, but no granite curbing on the rest of the street unless it can be slanted to allow bikers to get off the street. Deb Belanger of the Pathways Committee noted Church Street is sloped and gets heavy foot, bike, and car traffic, so "both curbing and a sidewalk would be recommended." If there is no curbing, the sidewalk would have to be located "well off the road with a strong separation" from the street to maintain safety. She said the pathways plan currently envisions a walkway from the corner to the first driveway, but not beyond. However, it is possible that after the current plan is complete, there might be some leftover funds which could be used for the extension.
Abutters were split on support for the plan. Jack O'Connor of 68 Church Street advocated lower speed limits and questioned how much of his lawn would be lost to sidewalks. He was assured that a tree further up would be safe and pronounced himself "satisfied." But Concord Street resident Sylvia Sillers expressed disappointment with the rerouting of the sidewalk which she said would bring it within seven or eight feet of her house and endanger a valuable crab tree: "You're doing everything to maximize the problem in front of my house. I expected better consideration." Stevenson suggested approaching the phone company about moving the pole so the sidewalk would not have to go behind it, and McKenzie agreed to pursue this avenue.
The Traffic Safety Committee was asked to continue the dialog with the Pathways Committee and abutters with the goal of presenting a more detailed plan in a few weeks.
© 2007 The