EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 8, 2013

Windham officials discuss busy intersection

By John Toole

---- — WINDHAM — The future of the busy intersection of Routes 111 and 111A will get attention from the Planning Board during a workshop this week.

Neighborhood businesses this spring raised concerns about the possible removal of a traffic light at the intersection.

They warned that it could make it hard for people to turn into their properties and pose traffic safety problems.

“We believe that this light can stay,” Karl Dubay, president of The Dubay Group Inc., told selectmen at a forum in May. “It’s a no-brainer.”

The town’s Economic Development Committee has sided with business owners in the effort to keep the traffic light.

State transportation officials are planning to relocate a section of Route 111A to the west so it connects with Route 111 near the Interstate 93 northbound interchange.

Neighborhood businesses also have advocated for lights at Delahunty Drive and for the new 111A intersection to be built.

State Department of Transportation officials are scheduled to meet with selectmen July 22.

Selectmen’s Chairman Phil LoChiatto said selectmen haven’t taken a formal position on the traffic light issue yet, but he expects they will support retaining it. That’s based on their consensus in discussions this spring.

“The general consensus of the board is to leave the light there,” LoChiatto said.

But first the issue is before the Planning Board this month.

Planning Board Chairman Kristi St. Laurent said alternate member Alan Carpenter, a former selectman, is bringing the issue before the board.

“That is just an idea one of the Planning Board members has that he wanted to throw on the table for discussion,” St. Laurent said. “There are no decisions we are going to make.”

St. Laurent did not have details of what Carpenter might have in mind.

She said the meeting is open to the public and people will be able to discuss what Carpenter might present.

He could not be reached for comment Friday.

But at the town forum in May, Carpenter had expressed concern about adding traffic lights to Route 111 where there are more than a half-dozen between London Bridge Road and Route 28.

“If we put all these in, you’ll have 12 traffic lights, about one every 1,000 feet,” Carpenter told selectmen.

Selectman Al Letizio Jr. has floated the idea of building a roundabout at the intersection.

But Carpenter has said he thinks there is too much traffic on Route 111 for roundabouts to work.

A state count from 2009 put daily traffic at 25,000 on Route 111 west of Route 111A.

LoChiatto pressed Carpenter at the May forum for what he would do about the lights.

“That’s your decision. Good luck with that,” Carpenter said to laughter. “The only idea I could come up with that appeases everybody, if we want to go that route, is to eliminate the new 111A lights, but build the road, and make it right in and right out southbound only.”

The town could then deal with the issue in five or 10 years, depending on how much development takes place in the area, he said.

The Planning Board meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Community Development offices, 3 North Lowell Road.