By Julie McCay Turner
In late July a large group of residents and neighborhood activists gathered in the Reed Room at Town Hall, seeking to mitigate the impact of increased traffic on neighborhood streets — particularly Alcott Street, Dewey Road, Gould Road, and Temple Terrace — after changes to the Rte 62/Old Billerica Road intersection.
The Alcott, Gould, Dewey (TAGD) neighborhood group is led by Elizabeth Stringer Keefe, Jessica Lynch, and Jessica Jannace and has grown to include Wagon Wheel, Old Stagecoach, and their side streets.
A meeting with Bedford Police officers Tom Devine and Jeffrey French in late February revealed data collected by the department. According to Elizabeth Stringer Keefe, “At that meeting, Officer Devine reported on the data collected in the neighborhood, including making 18 stops in 1 hour and 12 minutes (3 citations and 15 warnings). The highest speed clocked was 71 mph in this residential neighborhood. The Bedford Police agree there is a significant problem in our neighborhood.” Residents expressed additional concerns including “speed and volume of commuter traffic in the neighborhood; unsafe driving, including passing, backing up, ‘racing’ and aggressive/unfriendly drivers; impassable/in disrepair/nonexistent sidewalks,” according to Stringer Keefe.
During the late July meeting, residents described additional concerns including further reports of aggressive drivers, accidents, 18-wheel semi-trailer trucks on these neighborhood roads, and large numbers of out-of-state license plates during both morning and afternoon commuting hours.
With school starting in just a few weeks and traffic volume increasing as vacations end, there were special concerns for the safety of the neighborhood’s children.
DPW Director David Manugian reported on some of the constraints his department faces.
While a traffic study might seem to be a benefit, it would set the speed limit at the 85th percentile of the speeds measured during the test, possibly raising the current limit. Similarly, regulations about closing roads to traffic are complex, and setting one-way streets would have to be observed by residents and commuters alike.
Bedford’s first traffic-calming speed bumps will be installed this summer as part of the Bacon/Hartford/Crescent project, according to Manugian. A town-wide traffic mitigation plan would seek to resolve problems rather than moving traffic from one area of Bedford to another.
The Selectmen will consider a preliminary redesign of the Route 62/Old Bedford Road intersection at their August 12 meeting announced Manugian.
Sgt. Paul Saunders, the Bedford Police Department’s Safety Officer, reported that in January 2019 the department conducted 162 traffic stops, and 76 of them were on Old Billerica Road, with Traffic Officer Tom Devine making 23 stops in a single hour. Bedford writes 3,300 citations each year. . Sgt. Saunders added that crash reports are down for last year. There were no crashes on Alcott, one on Old Stagecoach, four on Springs Road, nine on Old Billerica, and one on Gould.
The neighborhood group suggested that sufficient data has been collected, and the time for action has come. A list of resident solutions included:
- Posting ‘No Thru Traffic’ signs at the entrance of Wagon Wheel, Temple Terrace, and Alcott Street to limit commuter traffic
- Repairing all of the neighborhood’s sidewalks
- Creating a sidewalk or walking path along Alcott Street, adding a stop sign at the top of the street, and changing the placement of the Alcott Street sign to the Gould Road side of the telephone pole.
- Adding digital speed signs.
Reminder: The Selectmen will consider preliminary changes to the Route 62/Old Billerica Road intersection at their August 12 meeting.