ANDOVER — On Tuesday, July 23, the Andover Planning Board continued the public hearing for the special permit for the Lupoli Company’s self-described 16.2 acre lifestyle community project at 146 Dascomb Road.
The topic of traffic mitigation was on the agenda. The meeting follows a January public hearing at which the proponent, represented by the project’s civil engineer, discussed changes to the area, including reconstruction of the Route 93 north and southbound interchanges, installation of traffic signals at Smith Way, Frontage Road, and Dascomb Road, and numerous other measures to manage the increased traffic.
Rick Friberg of TEC addressed concerns that were raised in the January meeting by officials from Andover and Tewksbury. Of specific note are the requests Tewksbury made relative to how the project will affect its residents.
In the January meeting, Tewksbury Assistant Town Manager Steve Sadwick presented a letter to the Andover Planning Board asking for the proponent and the Planning Board to consider realignment of the East-Shawsheen-Dascomb intersection. An “unusual jog” in the sidewalk due to the location of the traffic cabinet at Shawsheen and East causes trucks to go up on the curbing and cross the yellow line as they make the right turn onto Dascomb from Shawsheen.
As part of the traffic mitigation proposal, the proponents have agreed to revise the radius of the intersection and move the cabinet, per the October 2018 Traffic Impact, Access and Parking study.
Friberg stated that the intersection would require “a small design plan which would be reviewed with Tewksbury town staff.” The proponent will also revise the sidewalks and wheelchair ramps once a design has been completed.
Friberg went on to discuss that no mitigation is planned to address Tewksbury’s concerns about the two at-grade railroad crossings on East and Shawsheen Streets, stating that traffic counts do not warrant any action. However, residents have been raising the issue of long traffic backups both at the Andover Planning Board meetings and during the public comment period for the Works grant the developer has applied for.
When a Tewksbury resident asked about the traffic study at the meeting, Friberg stated that the crossing is far enough away that it isn’t required to be included in the analysis and told the Andover Planning Board “it’s not going to make any difference.”
Friberg, along with consultant Rebecca Brown from Greenman-Pederson, Inc., the project’s peer reviewer, said the study only went as far as East and Shawsheen Streets.
“You study until you have an impact of less than 50 additional cars… so based on the traffic study, there was not justification for going beyond that intersection,” said Friberg.
Increased traffic from the proposed development is expected to add 48 cars per hour to the road, according to Friberg.
East Street resident Marie DiCiaccio commented that traffic on East Street now prevents her from getting out of her driveway, and that the development will bring that much more traffic to East Street. She also raised concerns about truck traffic which starts at 4 a.m. on East Street, rumbling through the residential neighborhood.
Friberg said the entirety of East and Shawsheen was not considered, despite both roads having residential components.
Andover Planning Board member Ann Knowles asked if traffic light signaling would take into account the traffic impacts on East Street and Friberg stated again that it was too far away from the project to be considered. This despite signaling, crosswalks and intersection improvements on the Andover side of Dascomb Road extending all the way to Andover Street.
Sadwick, in the January hearing, also discussed Tewksbury’s ongoing request of Andover for a truck exclusion, to which Friberg noted in the July meeting was between the two towns and not the proponent’s issue.
A discussion ensued to explain that tractor trailers making deliveries to businesses along East Street, Dascomb Road and Shawsheen Street use GPS which routes them through the center of Tewksbury and onto the residential part of East Street. An exclusion would create a directive in the GPS that would send the trucks to the Route 93 interchange at Dascomb Road. To date, Andover has not granted that exclusion to Tewksbury.
Continuing discussion focused on traffic mitigation for the intersection of Dascomb and Lovejoy Road in Andover with agreement to pursue a dedicated left turn lane pending investigation of space allowance. Further down Dascomb, at the intersection of Clark and Bannister, and Dascomb and Andover Streets, design work will be done to improve sight distance and stop bars.
Crosswalks and other roadway safety improvements will be made to the east of the project to Andover Street while comparable improvements will not extend the same distance west into Tewksbury.
Andover Planner Jackie Byerly asked the proponent about the Tewksbury sidewalk request. Sadwick had asked that sidewalks be installed 1,100 feet along East Street to Leston Street, and 1,600 feet along Shawsheen Street to Vale Street, significantly improving pedestrian safety given the expected increase in traffic. Sidewalks would also provide resident access to the new development. Friberg stated that the developer is not considering the request.
Tewksbury Town Manager Richard Montuori submitted a letter to the chair of the Andover Planning Board, Zach Bergeron, in advance of the July meeting to reiterate Tewksbury’s concerns about the traffic impacts of the project.
The letter states, “The town of Tewksbury has not received any outreach by the applicant or its representatives from TEC during this entire hearing process.”
Additionally, the letter states, “While the Town of Tewksbury appreciates how beneficial this project will be to the Town of Andover, it appears that our concerns of impact on our town are not fully being addressed. It is our hope that the Andover Planning Board will give our concerns due consideration relative to transportation improvements as we have previously stated”.
Tewksbury town staff is monitoring the process closely according to officials.
The Andover Planning board will continue the public hearing on Aug. 13, 2019 at 7:35 p.m. at Andover Town Hall to recap and discuss additional requirements of the special permit to see if more information is needed for any components. Residents are free to attend and share any concerns or comments about the project.