Concord Road Sidewalk Plan Extends from Hardy Road to Caesar Jones Way

By Kim Siebert MacPhail

At the December 3 Selectmen’s meeting, Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) chair Bob Dorer presented a plan to extend the existing Concord Road sidewalk approximately one-half mile further west, from Hardy Road to Caesar Jones Way/Ten Acre Drive.

In making sidewalk recommendations such as this, the TAC weighs a number of factors before recommending new construction, Dorer explained. Safety is the first consideration and, in this case, Concord Road has been identified as a heavily trafficked roadway that poses danger to walkers and joggers.

Links to existing sidewalks are also considered. The proposed sidewalk would be an extension of an existing sidewalk that would improve pedestrian access from West Bedford to the center of town. Additionally, it presents few engineering challenges that would make this sidewalk difficult—or prohibitively expensive—to construct.

Another advantage is that the Town holds a consistently wide right-of-way along the south side of Concord Road; by selecting the south side of the street, the Town would eliminate the necessity to obtain easements from abutters, something they would need to do if the sidewalk ran along the north side of the street.

However, Dorer declined to recommend one side of the road over the other for this project, saying that a property holder on the south side—Nat Brown, Sr. of New England Nurseries—was particularly concerned about potential danger to sidewalk users from vehicles entering and exiting his business. In all, the nursery has four entrance/exit ways or “curb cuts,” used by both customers and heavy-duty trucks and work vehicles. Brown advocates that the sidewalk be constructed on the north side of the street instead, opposite New England Nurseries.

One factor, however, that makes choosing the north side of Concord Road difficult is that there are 25+ telephone poles spanning the entire distance. These poles would have to be moved away from the road to make room for a sidewalk or—if moving them is impractical— easements would have to be secured from all north side abutters so that the sidewalk could to be placed “inside” the poles, closer to the houses.

Crosswalks would also have to be added, including on-demand pedestrian crossing signals, because pedestrians would have to switch sides twice between Hardy Road and Caesar Jones Way.

While acknowledging that NSTAR has a track record of being extremely slow to move poles—and that there might be an associated charge—the Selectmen asked Town Manager Rick Reed to contact the utility to delve into the matter. DPW Director Rich Warrington and Town Engineer Adrienne St. John were also asked to return to the Selectmen with greater detail about the project in order to decide how best to proceed.

Dorer and former TAC chair Brian O’Donnell recalled that the cost estimate for the project—if the less complicated south side option is chosen—was approximately $200,000. If approved, the project would be paid for by the “sidewalk fund” that was established by setting aside a portion of Community Preservation revenue.

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