CHELMSFORD -- Trucks, speeding and pedestrian safety all featured as issues residents raised at a forum held June 12 at the Chelmsford Senior Center.

Selectmen Chairman Ken Lefebvre, who moderated the forum, said the board hopes to gather information about the varied concerns.

"We're not here to have answers," Lefebvre said.

Rather, Lefebvre said the board wants to compile a list of issues, and sort which can be addressed through short-term measures, and which ones may require longer-term plans.

 

Confusion at crossings

Several residents took turns speaking; in addition, Lefebvre read emails from residents who couldn't attend, but who wanted to give input.

Many comments focused on truck traffic in North Chelmsford, on Ledge Road and Swain Road, and in the vicinity of the line between Chelmsford and Westford on Route 40.

However, Billerica Road, or Route 129; Steadman Street, and the interchange of Route 3 and Interstate 495 also got a mention, among other locations.

 

Beth Logan  -- a Town Meeting representative -- cited several areas, including the intersection of Fletcher Street and North Road, or Route 4.

"The intersection of Fletcher Street and North Road, near the town center, there is a left-turning lane... the lanes are just barely wide enough. The  people turning right --it is such a tight right turn, they swing out into the left lane," Logan said. "I see people stopping, all this hesitation, because it's not enough room."

Logan asked if the lanes could be modified. Additionally, Logan noted that, as Route 27 or Acton Road loops around the back of the Chelmsford Public Library, many motorists do not realize  they do not have to come to a full stop. The adjoining lane has a stop sign, requiring vehicles to stop before proceeding across to Summer Street.

At a four-way stop on School Street, Logan said, "People run it all the time. I don't mean, rolling [stop.] They run it." Logan also expressed fears about the condition of the Westford Bridge that crosses over Interstate 495. Logan said,. "It's horrible...it's crumbling."

Truck traffic

Lefebvre read an email from North Chelmsford resident Mark Duffy, of Stonehill Road, about truck traffic concerns at nearby Ledge Road.

In his email, Duffy wrote, "Trucking has increased significantly...with trucks heading up Ledge Road as early as 6:30 or 7 a.m."

With the addition of an access route from Route 40, or Groton Road for an asphalt plant coming online soon at neighboring Newport Materials in Westford, Duffy said, "More trucks will be utilizing that access."

Duffy also expressed concern about truck traffic close to a school bus stop in the area, during hours when students would be waiting for their school bus.

In an other email, John Bissonette, of Dunstable Road, referenced the nearby Newport Materials property, and complained about the speed of some trucks on Dunstable Road -- and concerns about rocks spilling from loads, both at the right turn onto Swain Road, and left turn onto Route 3 from Route 40.

In his email, Bissonette said he spoke with Police Lt. Colin Spence, and that since that time, the issues have abated. Duffy said Newport Materials also posted warning signs to alert truck drivers heading out from the work site.

A number of residents expressed concern about noise from so-called Jake breaks -- braking mechanisms in some diesel-fueled vehicles, such as trucks.

Deborah Dery, of Steadman Street, a Town Meeting representative, said trucks "seemed to be getting bigger, and heavier. Dery noted that Steadman Street serves as a conduit to traffic to and from neighboring Lowell. Dery said speeding is an issue not only in her neighborhood, but in several places in town, and suggested that the town engage in public education campaign.

Chris Bowman, also aTown Meeting representative, suggested that perhaps the town needs to implement truck traffic routes.

"As we've heard from a lot of residents, truck traffic has increased significantly in the past two years," said Bowman, noting that the increase comes in the wake of new developments.

Police eye problems

Residents said some places in town lack adequate sidewalks, and that the speed limits. Some called for better enforcement by the town's police.

Chelmsford Police Chief James Spinney addressed the gathering.

Spinney said Lt. Colin Spence handles traffic issues, but, the Police Department does not have a dedicated, fulltime traffic unit. Patrol officers are assigned to traffic spots as part of their daily duties, Spinney said. "The officers are straight out."

Police wrote more than 6,000 traffic citations last year, according to Spinney. Spinney said the police have no authority to restrict truck traffic, unless a truck traffic restriction is put into place. Police can address problems, such as trucks that cause excessive noise due to Jake breaks.