Bedford planners say $2.5M roundabout will eliminate hazard
“From 2006 to 2011 there were 32 accidents at the intersection, and we expect the amount of accidents to decrease significantly,” said Jeff Foote, Bedford’s town engineer, who is overseeing the project.
The roundabout will have a 130-foot diameter and three legs, one from Gault Road, and one coming from both directions on Meetinghouse Road.
Currently the intersection contains three stop signs. The signs will be supplanted by the construction of the roundabout in favor of yield conditions.
“When you get into this roundabout, at every point there’s only one conflict point, whereas at a three-legged intersection there are three contact points,” Foote said. “That’s why these roundabouts are becoming so popular – it reduces speed, you channelize vehicles, and there are only so many conflict points as you navigate around this thing.”
The $2.5 million project is funded by one of three voter-approved infrastructure bonds. Derry-based American Excavating won the contract for the project.
Two feet of paved shoulder and two feet of gravel will enhance the accessibility of the corridor for vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.
As it approaches the rotary, Patten Road will be redirected from its current location. The remaining roads will stay intact.
In planning, engineers examined a variety of solutions for the intersection, including a traffic signal and a four-way rotary. But the roundabout was the most practical, Foote said.
Two easements are required for the update, one from an abutting residence and one from New England Power Company. Each easement will cost the town approximately $2,700.
Public Works chief Jim Stanford said traffic mitigation and safety improvements are the keys to the project.
The current layout is better suited to horse-and-buggy transportation, Stanford said, “but it doesn’t work as well with modern vehicles and the speed that (they) travel.
It will also facilitate the flow of traffic.
“The roundabout is more of a yield condition, so if there’s no traffic you’re able to go through,” Stanford said. “You’re not making people stop when there’s no one around.”
With new pavement and gravel, Stanford said the project greatly improves drainage in the area, and will result in less icing and the use of less salt.
The development is not anticipated to alleviate any of the traffic on Route 101, which sees upwards of 10,000 cars on weekdays.
But the state Department of Transportation includes the widening of 101 to four lanes in its 10-year plan, slated for 2014-15. Because of the heavy traffic on 101, however, many travelers use Meetinghouse Road as a shortcut, something which could be alleviated with the expansion of 101. Foote said the neighbors have been amicable to the construction, partially because they realize the danger the current intersection poses.
“The people have been absolutely great,” he said. “There hasn’t been a handful of complaints since we started this – we’ve been blessed with everyone’s patience.”
The project began in the summer. Phase seven, the construction of the roundabout, is expected to reach completion by late fall.
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