Royalston residents raise concerns with truck traffic

  • Royalston Town Hall and Congregational Church

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 11/22/2020 3:12:43 PM
Modified: 11/22/2020 3:12:26 PM

ROYALSTON — Selectboard Chair Deb D’Amico said at Tuesday night’s meeting that she had been approached by several Royalston residents regarding speeding trucks in their rural neighborhood.

“There are concerns that there are logging trucks that seem to be using Butterworth Road, according to at least one resident, as a cut-through,” said D’Amico. “The logging isn’t necessarily taking place on Butterworth Road. The concern is that the road is being used as a cut-through by logging trucks that are going too fast down a road that is not meant for speed.

“The request was two-fold,” she continued. “The police could do more patrolling down there, and also perhaps we could put up some signs with a weight limit.”

D’Amico asked Public Works Director Keith Newton about possibly posting weight limit signs on the road, which runs north and south for more than a mile between Athol Richmond Road/Route 32 and Tully Road.

“The regulations that guide this,” Newton said, “it’s all bound by if there’s a particular reason for a speed limitation. It can be posted as low as 20 (miles per hour) for this reason: if it’s deemed that it’s unsafe at any point, there’s a review, and it’s usually been done by the police chief, myself, and the Board of Selectmen in years past.

“We would review the different sides of the issue and we make a determination. For example, the Athol Richmond Road was built for a speed of 35 miles per hour. That was the state standard because of the topography, the radiuses left and right, and the rise and fall of the grade. They deemed that 35 miles per hour was what they built that road for.

“Using the same criteria, Butterworth Road would certainly be a typical, very country, very narrow, windy road. So, posting for 20 is not out of the realm.”

Newton said signs setting the limit at 20 mph were placed at the end due to horses in the area.

“It was only something we posted because of the horses,” he said, “and if you notice, we’ve got some equestrian signs that were placed there because, not only were there pedestrian and vehicle traffic, there were horses at the (Route) 32 end.”

D’Amico then returned the discussion to the issue of weight limits. Newton said limits are usually posted during spring months because of the effect of thawing, runoff, and rain on the roadway.

“The weight limit is a very sensitive issue,” Newton continued, “and it is put up in the spring of the year when the ground is unstable, usually after the thaw, and we start to try and be protective because the roads — even driven on by moderate-sized vehicles — can get damaged.”

He said that weight limit signs posted in the spring have remained in place in recent years due to logging operations in the area.

“Several months back,” he said, “we had that logging operation going and I placed signs there. The signs were removed, and we never found them. We went through there with the police and no one could find them.

“So, we posted more signs. Then, again, they disappeared. So, whoever was responsible for taking the signs, I assume, would be the ones that wanted to use the road.”

Newton said he had to ask the police to respond because a contractor constructing a house on Butterworth Road “refused to use the roadway in the way it was posted.”

“He continued to drive his very large truck with gravel and stone for drainage onto that house site. I asked again, ‘Where did my signs go?’ And, again, no one seemed to know.

“Whoever took those signs down, I assume, were the ones who wanted to drive through and say, ‘I never saw a sign.’ And I guess that’s exactly what they did.”

The idea of posting signs reading “No Trucks” was raised, but only briefly, when it was determined such a move would be too restrictive.

“You thing you have to careful about, kind of be careful what you wish for,” Newton said, “because if you go through the process and then say ‘no more trucks’ on Butterworth Road, that means no more trucks on Butterworth Road. In the event someone wants to have a septic system pumped or cordwood delivered, you’d could be overly restrictive and end up hurting the people you were trying to help.”

Newton said a speed limit of 20 miles per hour is posted at each end of Butterworth Road.

The board ultimately decided that, for now, the best way to handle the problem is to post a few more speed limit signs on the road and step up enforcement efforts. Further discussion on how best to meet residents’ concern will take place in the future.

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