March 2 2017

Selectmen Discuss Removing Morning 'Do Not Enter' Restriction for Church Lane

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington Board of Selectmen held a brief discussion on the vehicle entry restriction on Church Lane and decided to look further into the matter, as well as alert residents of the area, before making a decision on whether or not to eliminate the restriction.


Currently entry onto Church Lane from Cambridge Street is prohibited between the hours of 7 and 9 a.m. on weekdays. Burlington resident Joyce Baylor was at the meeting to petition that the restriction be removed. She says that she lives in the north part of Burlington and must travel by the Town Center everyday in her commute to work on Mall Road. She said in a letter to the board that she often has to wait two to three cycles at the light at the intersection of Cambridge Street and Bedford Street and that the most logical route would be to go down Church Lane.


Baylor also said she sees many other motorists ignore the sign and that the police department does not seem intent on enforcing the restriction.


“Opening Church Lane to rush hour traffic would help alleviate traffic at the center of town,” she said in the letter.


The board discussed the history of the 7 to 9 a.m. restriction. It was first put into effect in May of 1995. In June of that year then Police Chief Soda reported that the department recommended removing the “Do Not Enter” signs. At the time the Board of Selectmen voted to keep the signs in place until sidewalks were installed on the road.


Since that time the board voted again in 1996 to keep the sign in place and then continued the issue without discussion in a meeting in 2003. In 2009 it was brought forward again when a member of the board suggested in be removed. Other board members said they wanted the Traffic Advisory Committee to take a look at all the special “Do Not Enter” signs in town to consider whether they should remain up or not.


Apparently the committee never came to a firm conclusion at that time. Last year Baylor brought it before the committee and the members instructed her to take the issue up before the Board of Selectmen.


On Monday the members of the Board of Selectmen were split in their opinion of what to do next.


Selectman Chris Hartling said he was comfortable to vote on it right away. He said he spoke to Burlington Safety Officer Bernie Schipelliti and Traffic Sergeant Gerry McDonough, who both say the restriction is unnecessary.


“Both of their opinions mean a lot to me,” he said. “Neither of those two think this street fits criteria to having a ‘Do Not Enter’ sign.”  


Hartling said he also had the same opinion from the town engineer and he pointed out that originally the sign was only supposed to be up until the sidewalks were built, which was done long ago.


Selectman Bob Hogan said he would prefer to wait until residents of the Church Lane neighborhood had been notified and could attend a meeting to voice their opinions.


“It seems likely this will be used as a cut through and increase traffic in their neighborhood,” he said. “I’d like to hold off until they’ve been notified.”


Selectman Joe Morandi said he wanted to have a comprehensive look at all the roads with these types of restrictions but Hartling said he wanted to handle Church Lane first. It was agreed to continue the discussion to the March 13 meeting and to notify Church Lane residents before then.


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