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Safety, economic concerns prompt road improvements in Bedford

BEDFORD — The Town Council unanimously endorsed the Tax Implement Financing District plan to improve a section of town along South River Road from the Route 101 overpass to the Manchester line.

The plan was adopted in 2010 to revitalize the area and provide better safety along South River Road and its side streets, and to promote economic development in the area. The main project will entail improvements just north of Kilton Road at the CVS pharmacy to the Manchester line.

The proposal is to widen Route 3 at key locations to allow safe transit, increased traffic and encourage increased investment into adjacent sites,” said Jim Stanford, Public Works director.

The plan, which involves about 183 acres and 99 parcels, will see improvements such as repaving, sidewalk enhancements, lighting, landscaping, traffic signals and will provide ongoing maintenance.

The district will be overseen by the TIF Advisory Committee made up of town councilors, the Planning Board, abutters and property owners. In 2011, the town authorized a bond for $4.1 million, and for 2014 the council authorized an additional $100,000 in the capital improvement plan for traffic signals, and $900 from an infrastructure bond.

“Ultimately, the TIF needs to be self-funded. In order to do that we need to know exactly what it’s going to cost. We have the engineering estimate and we’ve advanced that design and put it out on the street. Once we have the bid we’ll have the firm numbers of what it’s going to cost and (finance director) Crystal (Dionne) will see if we have enough money,” said Stanford.

Jeff Foote, town engineer, said construction will start at CVS to the Manchester line, and the town will cover the area from Kilton Road to River Road as part of the project. Improvements to side streets will include Park Drive, Upjohn Street, Beaudoin Street, Eastman Avenue, Wathen Road, Hull Road and Colby Court.

“We’ll include sidewalks on each side, the east and west side of South River Road, a 4-foot paved shoulder, two lanes northbound and southbound plus a 13-foot dual center lane along the corridor,” Foote said.

Two intersections — Palomino Lane and Beaudoin Street — will see the most changes. The intersection at Palomino Lane, South River Road and Washington Place has had 25 accidents in the past five years, Foote said.

“The TIF grew out of the need for improvements to that intersection,” Foote said.

Beaudoin Street is currently in an undesirable condition and direct access to the street will be closed, and a connection to the street will be built from Washington Street. He said the town looked at a median access to the street, but it was eliminated because of a lack of space.

A dedicated right lane will be added from Colby Court into Bedford Place to improve safety and traffic flow.

“This intersection is one of the worst in town. It’s had 28 accidents over five years, including one fatality of a pedestrian crossing the southern leg of the intersection,” he said.

The plan is to minimize impact to local businesses, residents and drivers, and signs will be posted along the route as well as on the town website and through social media. The town will also impose a five-year moratorium on new road cuts in the area. Construction is expected to begin in June and run through October, 2015.

“Once we get going, we’re in full tilt,” Foote said.

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