PEPPERELL -- The Board of Public Works has rejected a proposal from a Pepperell citizen to consider installing a rotary in Railroad Square.

Board members voted unanimously Sept. 12 not to pursue a plan for a rotary following Hal Sartelle's presentation asserting that a traffic circle would reduce accidents at the problematic intersection.

Sartelle said rotaries in general have lower accident, injury and fatality rates than traditional intersections.

"If we can reduce one accident or five accidents, it's well worth it," Sartelle said.

The intersection where Main Street, Groton Street and Railroad Street meet, is confusing, he said, because it is not clearly marked. Drivers often don't understand who has the right-of-way.

In June, the Highway Department painted a series of arrows marking the flow of traffic in the intersection. Sartelle said these measures, while a step in the right direction, didn't go far enough.

"People have already remarked that they like seeing the paint downtown. I just ask for a more comprehensive solution," Sartelle said.

The path of the Nashua River Rail Trail through the intersection further complicates traffic, as drivers must be constantly on the lookout for cyclists and pedestrians, Sartelle said.

A traffic circle would more clearly show who has the right-of-way, he said.

"Then from every direction, people can come through, see the intersection well and know what they're supposed to do," Sartelle said.


Board member Gregory Rice said a rotary would make the problem of the rail trail worse, as drivers would be looking to the left for oncoming traffic rather than looking right for cyclists.

"I just don't see any problems that you're solving, and you're actually making things worse," Rice said.

Member Paul Brinkman took issue with Sartelle's proposal to not remove any parking spaces from Main Street, instead placing the rotary directly next to several parking spaces.

"I cannot believe that you can have pull-out parking as part of the intersection," he said.

Brinkman said roundabouts can be confusing and pose safety hazards, especially for new drivers.

"You get to a roundabout, all bets are off," Brinkman said. "It's creating, to me, a higher likelihood of having a problem."

Board member Patrick McNabb said the proposal was too preliminary for the board to be able to seriously consider. He said a traffic study and a design plan would be necessary if the board were to choose to further consider the proposal in the future.

Follow Chelsea Feinstein at or on Twitter or Tout @CEFeinstein.