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Traffic Signal Project Accelerates

This diagram by traffic engineers Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc shows the section of Route 16 from Pearl St. to just past Sacred Heart Church, including a redesigned Beach St. intersection.

The $4 million project that will revamp seven downtown Milford intersections and install new traffic signals to better coordinate traffic flow along Main St. and East Main St. (Route 16) from Water St. to Medway Road (Route 109) began to accelerate this month. State officials now expect the project to be completed in the spring of 2013.

At its February 9 meeting, the Finance Committee voted unanimously to transfer $29,000 from its Reserve Fund to cover the cost of appraising the 88 pieces of privately-owned land on which easements will be required to allow the construction to proceed. Town Engineer Michael Santora told selectmen two days earlier – at their February 7 meeting – that the land-takings must be done before the construction could be advertised for bid.

"A total of 97 easements will be required: 68 temporary construction easements, 20 sidewalk easements and nine permanent easements. Of the 97 easements, nine are Town of Milford properties, so appraisals on 88 parcels will be required," Santora told the board. Selectmen unanimously backed his funding request before the Finance Committee.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) wanted to advertise the construction project for bids by April 15, but is extending that date to July to allow the town to finish the necessary land-takings, Santora explained. The idea is to do the appraisals now, seek approval and funding to take the land by eminent domain at May's Annual Town Meeting, and execute orders of taking in June, the engineer told selectmen.

While the Finance Committee was meeting in the lower level of Town Hall to consider Santora's request, MassDOT held a public hearing in upper Town Hall required to review the project's design. Five large schematic drawings were posted to detail the improvements along Route 16's path through town. "This is actually a legal proceeding to introduce you to the right-of-way process," said MassDOT Project Engineer Thomas Currier. "The design is expected to be completed soon."

The federal government is paying 80 percent and the state is paying the remaining 20 percent of the estimated $4 million project cost, he said. Construction should begin by the spring of 2012 and last until the spring of the following year, Currie said.

Selectmen Chairman William Buckley said Route 16 connects Route 146 to Route I-495. "This is a vital corridor for this community and the region," he said. Buckley thanked MassDOT officials for "putting this on the fast track."

John Bechard, an engineer with Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. – the firm hired by the state to design the project – said that the seven traffic signals from Water St. through Medway Road would be replaced with new systems that could be synchronized. Main St. also would be repaved from Water St. to Beach St., and from past Cedar St. (Route 85) to the intersection of Medway Road. "Each intersection has specific issues," he explained.

"The most significant change at any of the intersections is at Beach St.," Bechard said. That intersection will become more "T"-shaped, resulting in some "green space" being created in front of Sacred Heart Church, he explained.

Most of the public's comment came from members of the town's Commission on Disability, who asked about various aspects of handicapped accessibility at each intersection. Father Richard Scioli, the pastor of Sacred Heart Church, also talked about the need to monitor traffic flow at the intersection of Sumner St. and Main St. when both the town's Middle School East and the Milford Catholic Elementary School release students each afternoon.

Several residents of Prairie St. also complained about being trapped in their Street when cars turning from Route 109 to Route 16 blocked the entrance to their street – even when they had a green light. Bechard said that problem could be fixed by giving Prairie St. preference in the order in which the lights change.


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