Study: 10,515 cars pass through Orange each day
ORANGE — A staggering 10,515 vehicles pass through the intersection of East, West, South and North Main streets every day. That was just one of the many facts revealed by Laurie Scarborough, Franklin Regional Council of Governments Transportation Planning Engineer, at the selectboard meeting Wednesday night.
The council of governments was asked to conduct a truck turning study by selectman Kathy Reinig, who, like many in the area, have seen first hand the results of large trucks trying to make a turn in the center of town and not having the space to do so.
Because of the smaller turning radius, pickup trucks, single-unit panel trucks with four wheels and vans were not considered. The study specifically looked at vehicles with six wheels on two axles or any vehicle with three or more axles, which make up six percent of the vehicles that enter the intersection every day.
Peak times at the intersection were determined to be between 7 and 8 a.m., with the majority of vehicles turning from South Main Street onto East Main Street, and between 2 and 4 p.m. when the majority of vehicles are turning from West Main Street onto South Main Street.
Additional problems were found to be caused by vehicles parking in the no parking zones at the intersection for the purpose of unloading supplies for businesses. Because of this one of the short term solutions to the problem is the police could ramp up enforcement of keeping the no parking areas at the intersection clear, particularly during the peak times.
Also suggested was extending the no parking zones back to 20 feet to allow for more room. Scarborough also suggested working with the department of transportation to determine an optional alternate truck route to avoid the center of town, though Scarborough noted that because the intersection is a part of the state numbered highway system the town cannot prohibit any specific vehicles from passing. Also suggested was replacing the traffic signal currently on a wire with one held in place by a mast arm. The current signal can be struck by taller trucks.
Selectman David Ames remarked that he is willing to bet that no large trucks are entering the intersection unless they absolutely need to.
Interim DPW Superintendent Josh Knechtel said that he is really happy to see the information from FRCOG as it reinforces many of the same ideas he has had about helping the traffic flow of the intersection. He added that one option he has often considered is removing the parking on one side of East Main Street between the intersection and Water Street. Before any changes could be made though he would have to determine the proper procedure and possibly hold a public hearing to learn of public opinion first.
Knechtel updated the board on the results of the recent town auction. Approximately 300 people attended and just over $40,000 was raised from the sales. “That’s real money for stuff we were not able to use anymore,” he said.
Knechtel wanted to publicly thank Quabbin Valley Auction for their help and those members of the highway department crew who came out on a Saturday to help out. He also acknowledged that not every town department was given adequate time to compile a list, noting the school district in particular. In the future he would like to contact area towns to see if they would be willing to join up to make the auction a much larger event. “I am happy we were able to work together and have a good time,” he said.