Work on the Downtown Improvement Project, conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, will stop through the cold months, and continue through spring, according to an update yesterday from the town.
At a recent Board of Selectmen meeting, Town Engineer came armed with a large map. With details of the Downtown Improvement Project at the ready, Litchfield fielded quite a few questions from Selectmen, many of whom were relaying concerns from residents.
While Litchfield had responses for all, he repeated two statements: "This is a state project" and "they are still tweaking things."
Selectman Aaron Hutchins questioned the timing of the lights at the center, suggesting that the "timing doesn't seem to be any different than before." Litchfield said light timing and positions will change, and some of the construction is "really camping the style of the whole project."
"We have seen significant work in the downtown area over the summer months," said Litchfield. "The railroad crossing that was done at the beginning of the month was major for us. There was a discussion I had with the electrical guys that it was going to be connected, but it is not completed at this point. It will be in the next few weeks. You're right; it was supposed to alleviate part of the traffic. I expect things will be improving with synchronization is done."
Litchfield also discussed the change that will affect Bank of America, where there will now be a right turn only out of the parking lot, and devoid of a traffic signal.
"The way it is set up now is unacceptable," Litchfield said of Patty Lane two weeks ago, "and the engineers fully agree. The poles are under the state's control, and we're doing the best we can. We can't push them anymore.
The gates on the train tracks, Litchfield reported, "are not coming back" since there are signals before and after the crossing.
"When the signs are up," said Litchfield, "and everyone is in the right place traveling through the right area, we'll be able to modify the timing. It's not worth tweaking a system that is not completely operational yet."
The following is a status report submitted by Litchfield on Jan. 8.
The contractor has prepared the project for the winter and no further roadwork will be completed until the spring. Although the project is not complete and all travel lanes are not at their full width because some poles are still waiting to be removed most of the work is complete. Unfortunately the poles cannot be removed until all wires have been transferred over to the new poles but utility pole work will continue through the winter months.
The Patty Lane intersection appears to provide the most confusion for drivers due to the pole remaining in front of the lane which provides access into Patty Lane from traffic heading westbound on Main Street (ie. the left turn in). At this time, the only access to Patty Lane is from the west as the signal controlling the left turn in from the east has been covered and a “No Left Turn” sign has been installed next to the covered signal head. Both left and right turns out of Patty Lane are allowed as the remaining pole does not impact the lane for traffic exiting Patty Lane.
The work involving the replacement of the railroad crossing has been completed and some additional pavement was installed by the contractor to minimize the impact of the bump over the tracks for the winter until the final coat of paving is installed next spring.
The sign contractor is working in the downtown area this week installing additional signs in accordance with the approved plans which should provide some additional guidance for drivers.
Please note these status reports will resume in the spring once work is scheduled to commence again as weather permits. In the meantime please feel free to contact MassDOT resident engineer Angela Padavano at 774-292-2076 with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the Downtown Traffic Improvements.
Patch readers: How do you think the improvement is coming along? What suggestions would you make?