PEPPERELL — A new traffic pattern for Railroad Square met resistance from selectmen Monday.
It was not the plan itself that they objected to, but the lack of an outside expert being included in the planning and study process.
More stop signs, sidewalks, curbing and relocated crosswalks are needed. A restructuring of Main Street where it meets Groton Street, including a small mountable island, is called for, said Department of Public Works Director and Town Engineer Ken Kalinowski.
Kalinowski, Highway Superintendent Peter Shattuck and Police Chief David Scott met and studied the five-way intersection, Kalinowski told the selectmen on July 13. They used barrels to ensure that tractor-trailers can get through and installed temporary stop signs to control traffic.
Bicycle traffic from the rail trail and parking along Main Street increase the confusion. There have been some fender-benders when people backed out into oncoming traffic, he said.
“It’s not safe,” Kalinowski said. “The traffic is increasing.”
“It’s great for people from Pepperell,” said Shattuck. “They know how to navigate through Railroad Square.”
People from out of town have more difficulty, Shattuck said.
They did not hire an outside engineer because they have the expertise in-house to put the intersection into compliance with national standards, Kalinowski said.
Chairman Steven Themelis said he would feel more comfortable if a third party, for example, someone from the North Middlesex Council of Governments, was part of the planning and study process.
He asked how stop signs have been approved in the past.
“I’ve been putting in stop signs for 30 years,” Shattuck said.
“A committee of three might have worked in the 70s and 80s,” said Town Administrator Mark Andrews. But he thought the town planner should be included along with a staff member of NMCOG.
“I think we need to expand the composition of the committee,” he said.
There are two parts to the problem, said Selectman Melissa Tzanoudakis. “The new charter calls for things to be done differently,” she said. Policies and procedures are needed.
On the other hand, she said, “It’s a really, really horrible intersection.”
Town Meeting and residents want to know about changes in traffic patterns, Andrews said. He referred to questions residents asked about how the intersection of Mill and Main streets would be affected by the new 1A Auto headquarters.
Andrews did not know how much it would cost to have NMCOG be part of the study of the intersection.
The selectmen voted unanimously to have Andrews get in touch with NMCOG and discuss the matter. They also voted to leave the two temporary stop signs in place for now. They are located on Main Street at Groton Street and Railroad Street at Groton Street.
The work needs to be done soon, both Kalinowski and Shattuck said. The pavement in the square needs to be finished after a rebuilding project that was done several years ago.
In other business:
National Grid is in the first days of replacing gas mains at 2 to 98 Park St. and 97 to 125 Brookline St. The project will be complete around Sept. 30, weather permitting. The excavation project includes connecting individual services to the new main and installing outside meters.
Shattuck said that the project might be expanded. Gas is leaking near the intersection of Main and Park streets. When planning work, the gas company rates the severity of the leaks, he said. He would like the utility to replace the mains sooner, rather than later, as he plans to repave that area within a few years.
Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter and Tout @a1oconnor.