At last week’s special board meeting there were updates on two issues related to road safety in Southborough. One of them is an issue discussed in June that I never addressed – a request for a speed reduction on Parkerville Road. Another addressed the status of the city’s traffic study and next steps.
Parkerville Road Speeds and Signs (North)
Last month, resident Robert Maiorana petitioned the Select Board to use powers granted by the City Assembly to reduce the speed to 25mph on Parkerville Road (north of Route 9). He explained that back when he was on the building committee for Trottier Middle School, they asked for the speed to be 25 mph, but nothing came of it.
At the 2021 annual municipal meeting, voters supported giving the select council the power to designate safe zones. This would allow them to lower speed limits to 25 mph (or even 20 mph in some areas).
Currently the speed on Parkerville is 30 mph except in the school zone around Neary when this light is flashing.
At the June 14 meeting, Vice President Chelsea Malinowski said she had looked into the matter and discovered that speeds on Parkerville Road were set by special laws of the legislature requested by Southborough in the 1970s. be canceled before the Board can adjust the speed. This would bring the speed down to 35mph but allow the Council to lower it. They promised to investigate further.
Last week, city administrator Mark Purple shared that he asked MassDOT how to cancel the special acts. The agency replied that it would be a simple process to cancel it and revert to statutory regulations. But they also warned in writing that under the law the Select Board would use to reduce the speed to 25mph, a violation must be based on speeding at least 1/8 of a mile. This means that “instantaneous radar or laser readings are not adequate”.
Board member Lisa Braccio feared this would make the application too difficult and require additional time in court. Acting Police Chief Newell was still in favor of a speed reduction. He said there were a lot of incidents where they made stops without radar depending on who was passing. This would still allow them to stop people who go over the 10 mph limit. He also noted that officers go to court all the time and he thought that would be good.
They agreed to have Purple send a letter to MassDOT requesting the cancellation of the special acts. In June, the council agreed that when the acts were rescinded, it would discuss voting to reduce speeds on Parkerville and installing driver feedback signs. They would also discuss whether similar actions made sense on other routes.
Traffic study update
Last November, voters agreed to fund a study on the habits of heavy trucks circulating in the city. This was a step the Council wanted to take before agreeing to change the routes that exclude trucks.
In May, the public was informed that the study was complete and that a report would soon be released. At last Tuesday’s meeting, member Andrew Dennington said “a very preliminary set of data” had come back, but the board had yet to receive the report. He indicated that they expected to receive him now. He knew residents were frustrated that their truck exclusion request was still pending.
The topic came up as part of a discussion on what the Council would like the Public Works Planning Board to advise them on.
President Kathy Cook referenced comments made by CPTP President Bill Boland at a recent Planning Council meeting. She said it was clear that Boland had a different PWPB board philosophy than some board members. However, he claimed that PWPB would advise the select committee on projects if requested.
The select committee discussed sending a letter with demands to the PWPB. The question was whether or not to do this before the PWPB meeting with the Capital Planning Committee this evening.
Malinowski said she’d like to hear what’s being said at tonight’s meeting first. The Board will follow up on the recommendations to be made at a future meeting.
At tonight’s PWPB meeting, members are due to discuss the role their board will play (vs. the Capital Planning Committee) in considering Hopkinton’s request to connect to supply our city’s water supply, a review of the water master plan and the Cordaville Road project.
Each member talked about the items they would like the PWPB to address. For Dennington, reviewing the traffic study report and making recommendations based on the results was important. Another safety item that the Select Board is considering asking the PWPB to consider is updating/prioritizing the list of potential sidewalk projects.
There were also other non-safety related items that the council is considering (such as managing invasive plants and reassessing how the transfer station handles recycling). to be programmed for the purposes of accreditation of an assessment center for aspiring police chiefs.