The Route 123 transportation improvement project, extending from the sewer line “hump” to the Route 495 overpass, will not be underway until at least spring of 2016, but it is already proving to be a challenge, both in planning and cost.
Norton Highway Department superintendent Keith Silver told selectmen this week he hopes to have preliminary plans drawn up by municipal consultants from Vanasse Hangen Brustlin available for viewing at a public information meeting sometime this fall.
Issues the VHB project planners will address include some serious visibility problems for motorists coming off Route 495, the dangerous North and South Washington Street intersection, the bike path crossing, excessive speed and the height of the “hump” where the sewer interceptor runs underground from Mansfield, the site of one fatality in past years.
Silver said all abutters will be personally notified about the public session, probably to be scheduled in September.
The project needs to meet the “75 percent design” criteria before the state will come through with funding, but part of the price of the design will be covered under the state share of the cost.
Planners are considering several different mechanisms to slow traffic to and from the 495 intersection, including a “roundabout” at the intersection – a small rotary designed to force motorists to decrease speed.
The installation of sidewalks could be another addition, requiring widening of parts of Route 123 and adding considerable cost.
Silver said all surveying has been completed, and said the plans are at the 25 percent design phase, only the beginning of a long process.