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Worcester Residents Up In Arms Over Surprise Road Work

Saturday, September 29, 2012

 

Property owners near the intersection of Forest and Salisbury Streets were given no warning before coming home to find the area staked out for construction.

The City's Department of Public Works has put the breaks on the resurfacing project, which was set to start next week, after several residents complained publicly about not being clued in on the work.

District 1 City Council Tony Economou said he only learned of the plans after residents called him to ask about the orange surveying stakes that had appeared in their front yards.

"Nobody was made aware of this. I wasn't aware of it to even comment to them as to what was going on."

With homeowners up in arms, a joint meeting of the City Council's Traffic and Parking and Public Works committees has been scheduled for Tuesday night to hear from both residents and officials about the planned project, and the Council will consider the matter during its regular meeting afterward.

Surface and Safety Improvements

According to DPW Assistant Commissioner Paul Moosey, Forest and Salisbury Streets were scheduled for one of the city's roughly 125 road resurfacing projects for the year.

"It includes some minor tweakings of the roadway so we can get some safety improvements in there," he said.

In particular, the eastbound side of Salisbury Street heading into the intersection will have two lanes, one for left turns onto Forest St. and one for right turns continuing toward downtown, once the proposed project is completed.

With vehicles attempting to make a left turn onto Forest St. stopping traffic and blocking the roadway, cars quickly back up, causing a substantial safety hazard during morning and evening rush hours. Moosey said the intersection has been host to 15 accidents, five of which involved personal injury, over the past three years.

Typically, DPW distributes flyers to all the buildings and residences in the area before resurfacing projects get underway, but in the case of the Forest and Salisbury Streets job, the flyers did not make it out until the stakes were already in the ground.

"The city could have done a better job. I'll take the hit for that," Moosey said. "It was really just bad coordination on our part."

Traffic Woes

But some area residents said the plan itself is flawed and will only exacerbate the traffic issues already present.

Gloria Rivera and her husband Luis DaRosa have lived next to the intersection since 2007.

"This plan was put together very poorly without the input of the residents of this area," Rivera said.

She and a number of other residents held a meeting Thursday night, attended by Economou and other city officials, to discuss the DPW's plans.

"Our ultimate goal was we need to stop this project completely," Rivera said. "It does not make sense for the people that live here."

Economou said that Salisbury St. is a popular route for commuters headed into Worcester during the week. While the planned improvements to the intersection may make life easier for those drivers, the Councilor was less optimistic about its effect on area residents.

"There's a lot of driveways that actually empty into that intersection, too, which is challenging enough as it is," he said.

"I'm not sure what the city is proposing is going to make it any easier for them."

Rivera said traffic near her home has always been a problem, but she and her neighbors have so far been able to manage it.

"We are very concerned that this would only invite more of what we have already," she said.

Moosey admitted that the improved roadway would not be perfect, but he said it would decrease queuing and increase the safety of all parties.

The assistant commissioner has gone out to the site and met with a number of residents to discuss their concerns.

"I think for the most part, with a couple exceptions, they kind of understand," he said.

But Economou remained unconvinced that the plan on the table was the right solution for the Forest and Salisbury intersection.

"In my opinion, if this was heard in public when it was proposed, if DPW or the public works committee was aware of it, I don't think we'd be having this conversation today." 

 

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