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Case's Corner Roundabout Discussion Continues at Selectmen's Meeting

Board, residents weigh pros and cons of controversial proposed roundabout.

The ongoing discussion about whether to build a roundabout at Case's Corner reached the next stage at the Monday, Feb. 27 Board of Selectmen meeting, where abutters and other residents gathered to hear further information, and weigh in on the controversial proposal.

Some 30 attendees packed the lower level conference room at , and mainly expressed discontent at the proposal, saying the high-traffic time at the intersection is mainly limited to morning commuting hours and doesn’t merit the expense of a roundabout, among other objections.

As part of a presentation to the board by the Traffic and Sidewalk Committee (TSC), which has spearheaded efforts to build the roundabout at the intersection of Wellesley and Newton streets, project engineers from Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. (VHB) showed various simulations of current traffic conditions versus those conditions with a roundabout in place, as well as of what the area would look like after the build.

Laura Castelli, a senior transportation engineer/planner with VHB, told the audience that based on such simulations, the most noticeable traffic alleviation afforded by the roundabout would likely come during morning hours, with the average wait time reduced by up to 100 seconds.

"Most (drivers) will wait less than 30 seconds," if the roundabout is built, she projected.

VHB senior project manager Timothy McIntosh defined the project goals as addressing traffic concerns, improving safety, and retaining character—, some of whom said they felt the roundabout could impact the rural aesthetic of that area of town.

At Monday's meeting, the idea of the roundabout—projected to cost $550,000—further information had changed their minds.

Initially, said Nina Danforth, "I agreed (the roundabout) was a very interesting solution to the traffic in the area. But upon a closer look, (I feel) the (traffic) problems are not that bad."

"It's an expensive solution to not that big of a problem," she added.

Another abutter, Denise Mosher, said she also thought the roundabout was a "great idea" at first but said as the process has gone on, "I've realized it's really just that three-minute period of day (in the morning) when it's really backed up. I drive by it (many) other times a day when it's not a problem at all."

For their part, selectmen Michael Harrity and Doug Gillespie kept their remarks level, posing an occasional question during the presentation. (Selectman Steven Charlip was not present.)

"My only reaction in looking at the graphics is, it's quite a sharp (curve)," said Gillespie, with Harrity suggesting that even if the build takes place, "(We) can't really reduce traffic. It's like a balloon; it will get pushed somewhere."

But ultimately, said Gillespie, "This is more of a quality of life issue that voters should have the right to decide on (at Town Meeting) as opposed to our making recommendations."

TSC chair Clint Schuckel closed the discussion by telling attendees the committee was still in the process of gathering facts and that it will await recommendations following future TSC meetings, the next of which is scheduled for March 14.

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