Letter to the Editor: Project key for trails

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To the Editor:

The Upper Charles Trail Committee (UCTC) has been charged by the Select Board to plan, design and build a Class 5 (fully developed) trail from Milford to Ashland, and it must include the Center Trail. The UCTC originally wanted to cross Main Street by the Hopkinton Lumber store. However, the State DOT would not allow the flashing warning lights necessary for the trail because it was too close to the existing Wood/Main Street traffic lights. The committee met with various engineers to develop a two-directional, separated bike lane that met state and federal requirements for safety and funding purposes. Most importantly it makes a safer place for our school children who currently flood the downtown area on early release days.

Some have criticized this plan as unsafe for cyclists who would need to pass in front of existing driveways and business exits. We are expecting the new lanes and signage to increase safety.  We must work with what we have, as do other bike paths in Massachusetts, and plan for better, safer routes for all.

I also want to speak to other traffic safety calming measures that are planned for the downtown corridor, similar to what the town accomplished on Hayden Rowe by narrowing the road, which forces the traffic to slow down. At the same time, the plan includes turn lanes that allow for a smoother flow and more volume of traffic to travel through the intersections at a more consistent pace. All of these improvements are made possible by the town’s utilization of the easements. Without the easements, there will be no improvement to the downtown area, as we will not be able to comply with state and federal regulations.

If Article 47 is overturned at Special Town Meeting due to lack of easements, the cost to re-pave Main Street is estimated to be more than $3.4 million. That cost would be the burden of the taxpayers, as without the easements the town would no longer comply with the State DOT regulations. Please also remember that other costs currently included in this project, such as straightening the intersection, drainage, improved pedestrian safety, landscaping and aesthetic enhancement, would all be on the taxpayers.

I urge all residents to attend the Special Town Meeting on Dec. 9 and hear the facts and make an educated decision.

 

— Jane Moran, Hopkinton

Upper Charles Trail Committee chair