Photo: The intersection at Partridge Lane and Winter Street which will soon be blocked off
Construction barrels are coming to close off a dodgy intersection as the town takes a first, gradual step in a much bigger project.
At its Aug. 25 meeting, the Belmont Select Board approved a temporary six-month closure from Partridge Lane to Winter Street while the town’s transportation oversight board evaluates whether the action should be made permanent. The move comes as an “incremental” improvement to a section of road which could see major changes to improve traffic and pedestrian safety.
According to Glenn Clancy, the director of the Office of Community Development, work has been going on for several years between the town and the Transportation Advisory Committee on improving Concord Avenue at the intersections at Winter and Mill streets.
“It’s a challenging project,” said Clancy, telling the board the town and committee have settled on a concept plan in which roundabouts (traffic circles) will be constructed at each location. While calling it “a great plan,” there are two significant “hurdles” facing the project: to fit the circles at the sites. First, it will require taking “a sliver” of land from the Rock Meadow Conservation Area, which will necessitate getting approval from the town’s Conservation Commission and the state legislature. The second barrier is having a funding source, which Clancy admits, the town doesn’t have for the project.
It was during “robust” conservations at public meetings about the project that neighbors brought up the speed of the traffic coming off Concord Avenue, which makes the side street junctions “tricky” to maneuver at best, said Clancy. He noted that closing off the nearby side streets is part of the project.
So while the more significant project is delayed without a timetable, “there is no reason we can’t address this issue independently” of the roundabouts.
Clancy said the street closure would eliminate the “point of conflict” for motorists who access Winters Street from Concord Avenue. It will also appease the pleas of residents along Partridge and Rayburn Road who complain commuters are using the streets as a “cut through” to jump the queue at the corner of Winter and Concord.
If it is decided to make the roadblock peIf the roadblock is made permanent, the barrier will be similar to the island-like border at the end of Winslow at the Cushing Village complex, significant enough to stop vehicles but allowing fire equipment to drive over.
David Coleman, chair of the Transportation Advisory Committee, said his group unanimously approved the concept for the next six months. Clancy admitted that some residents in the newly closed-off streets “weren’t pleased with this. But I think the consensus was that this was probably a good idea and that we’re going to do it as a trial would allow the residents to determine whether or not it was effective and had value.”