Hanscom Runway Paving Project – Meeting with the Selectmen on August 21

The Selectmen and a representative of Massport met with Bedford residents on Monday, August 21 to share the community’s concerns about the impact of the runway repaving project – Image (c) JMcCT, 2017 all rights reserved – Click to view larger image

 

By Joan Bowen

Chatting after the meeting – Image (c) JMcCT, 2017 all rights reserved – Click to view larger image

At the request of Sharon Williams, Hanscom Field’s Director, the Selectmen provided Massport with the opportunity to provide a project update prior to the Selectmen’s regularly scheduled meeting on August 21.  Approximately 50 people, primarily residents of South Road, Concord Road, and North Road, attended the open meeting to hear the project report but also to voice their continuing concerns about the project planning process, communication, and the impact on the quality of their lives.

Margot Fleischman, Chair of the Selectmen, opened the meeting with a statement expressing disappointment in the way that Massport rolled out the Hanscom runway re-paving project.  Acknowledging that Massport has the authority to undertake the project and to use public roadways to meet its transportation needs, and in referring to Massport’s planning process, Ms. Fleishmann stated that “The bigger point is that when their plans were created and Bedford was the only Hanscom town affected, a conversation should have begun immediately to figure out how best to handle the impacts and prepare the town.  This did not happen.”    Click to link to Selectman Fleischman’s full statement

In a prepared statement, Amber Goodspeed, spokesperson for Massport, said that the most intensive period of the project will be completed on August 30 as planned.  At that point, there will be no more use of the South Road gate.  Access to and from the Hartwell Road Gate via Concord Road is projected to continue until September 18 as the project is completed with the grooving and painting of the pavement.

Additionally, she shared information on Massport’s efforts to respond to individual questions and to provide weekly project updates.  Ms. Goodspeed reported that traffic details have been provided by the Bedford Police Department for which the Town will be reimbursed and that Massport will work with Bedford to address any road repairs that may be needed as a result of the project.

Image (c) Bedford Police Department’s Twitter feed, 2017 all rights reserved – Click to view larger image

Bedford Police Chief Robert Bongiorno volunteered to report on actions of the police department in response to safety concerns.  He noted that to date six trucks have been stopped and cited for speeding.  He went on to share with the group that the department is currently working with a truck team officer from Watertown to address speed and safety issues related to the project’s truck traffic.

Town residents voiced multiple concerns.  Common themes included the speed and noise of the trucks moving through Bedford neighborhoods, lack of notification to residents, and the limits of Ms. Goodspeed’s report on the efforts of Massport to respond to questions/concerns via the website or phone.

Several South Road residents reported that the trucks are not adhering to the restricted hours, with some runs occurring before 6:00 am and after 10:00 pm.  Concern about the tracking of silica by trucks leaving the project site was also expressed.

Concord Road and North Road residents face truck traffic 24 hours a day, with several speakers reporting a major impact on the quality of their lives around the clock.  Safety concerns due to speed along narrow roads, the noise of jake breaking, exhaust fumes, and sleepless nights were cited.  Ms. Goodspeed was asked why the trucks had not been routed along Route 2A to Virginia Road, a route through a less residential area.  She responded that while it was considered, it was eliminated due to safety concerns regarding flight patterns and the focus on minimizing disruptions to air traffic.

Speakers also challenged the Selectmen, asking why, unlike the South Road residents, the residents of Concord Road and North Road were not notified of the project before it began.  Town Manager Reed responded that when it became apparent that Massport had no plans to provide notification to residents, the Selectmen urged that this be part of the project plan.  Shortly before the project began, his office was asked to identify to whom Massport should provide notification.  The South Road list was provided.  In retrospect, he said that he should have provided a similar list for North Road and Concord Road.

Another repeated challenge was in response to the report by Ms. Goodspeed on the numbers and assurances of responses to phone and website queries to Massport.  At times leaving a message has not been an option because the mailbox was full.  Further, the apparent practice of referring a message to another department as the appropriate respondent has meant no response to date.

Originally scheduled for 45 minutes, the Selectmen ended the information and comment session after 55 minutes in order to adjourn to their regular meeting, given a full agenda including scheduled hearings.

For up-to date project information, go to https://www.massport.com/hanscomfield/about-hanscom/runway-project/

The Massport hotline during business hours is 781-869-8060.  To share feedback after hours, 781-275-1212 reaches the Bedford police department’s non-emergency line.  Citizens should dial 911 in the event of an emergency or immediate safety concerns.

 

Traveling in convoys of up to three trucks on Friday, August 25, beginning before 6:30 am – Image (c) JMcCT, 2017 all rights reserved – Click to view larger image

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