The railroad is busy building a new high-speed train rail to provide high-speed service between Fitchburg and Boston.

This high-speed train will run parallel to the main access road to downtown Shirley for three railroad crossings, all within 1 mile of each other.

The first crossing is located near the Phoenix Club. Any school bus, tractor-trailer truck or large truck does not have enough clearance to cross over this crossing. It is even almost impossible for two cars following each other to negotiate this crossing. One needs to be keenly aware of the distance between them or invariably will be stopped on the tracks till the car in front of them merges onto Main Street.

At this crossing there also is a large brick apartment building and an extremely sharp curve that the train needs to negotiate coming around that building. At high speeds, this poses another danger to anyone using this crossing.

The second railroad crossing is at the commuter rail depot coming out to Ayer Road and across from Benjamin Hill Road. At this crossing, too, there is not enough clearance for school buses, tractor-trailer trucks, large trucks or other vehicles to safely cross. If one vehicle stops for traffic on Front Street or for pedestrians getting off the train to walk to their cars during rush hours, the backup of traffic makes it extremely dangerous to everyone in this area.


The third crossing by Ayer Road, Patterson Road and Peabody Road, does not have enough clearance for school buses, tractor-trailer trucks, trucks or other vehicles to safely cross over those tracks. There are four stop signs at this one crossing. One from Peabody Road, one from Patterson Road, one from Ayer Road and another stop sign once you go over the tracks to Front Street. During the busy time in the morning and afternoon, and with freight trains coming through, cars are lined up on all three of these roads as well as on Front Street. Cars coming from downtown Shirley headed to Ayer Center have to pull to the right onto the grass median to enable regular traffic to proceed through. They have their left directional lights on while fast-moving traffic is moving on the road. They are waiting to take a left-hand turn over the tracks while traffic is speeding by them on their left. In addition, cars headed to Shirley pull out to the left of cars lined up waiting to cross the tracks. In doing so, there is an incline in the road and it is difficult to see oncoming traffic.

Given human nature, people are impatient and doing dangerous maneuvering to get past all cars waiting on the right. Invariably, there is someone who decides not to wait and veer out into the regular flow of traffic or turn around to race to the next crossing to try to beat the train. Some of these freight trains take 10-15 minutes to go by and have 50 or more cars.

Furthermore, these long freight trains tie up all three crossings at the same time. This prevents any emergency vehicles from getting over any of these tracks. This poses a great threat to the safety of the citizens of Shirley and anyone else who needs to use these crossings.

All three crossings are an accident waiting to happen. This public safety problem needs to be addressed immediately.

Adding a high speed train to these already dangerous crossings is not a good idea.

John Bottino

concerned citizen of Shirley