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Williamstown to Press State on Route 2 Truck Ramp

By Stephen DravisSpecial to iBerkshires
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Selectmen Tom Costley and Jane Allen listen to an applicant for a spot on the Community Preservation Committee at Monday's meeting. Left, Jeffrey Thomas was appointed though Joan Burns put in her pitch.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — After an impassioned plea from a town resident, the Selectmen on Monday night decided to press the state for action on improvements to the runaway truck ramp on the Taconic Trail (Route 2) near the interchange with Cold Spring Road (U.S. Route 7).

More than a year after an accident at the intersection left one person dead, Robert McCarthy was back before the board for a second time asking it to seek action from the Department of Transportation, which is responsible for Route 2.

"This is a ticking time bomb that is going to happen again," McCarthy said, noting that the June 2011 accident occurred at 8 a.m., a time when school buses routinely would be traveling on Cold Spring Road had schools been in session.

"We have to demand from the state urgency and action to get the entrance to that ramp corrected. Mark my words: It's going to happen again."

McCarthy and Town Manager Peter Fohlin said MassDOT had responded to previous requests from the town by removing vegetation to improve visibility and adding signage to alert drivers to the presence of the ramp. But McCarthy said the state's efforts to correct the problem were inadequate, and the real issue — the turn trucks need to negotiate in order to use the ramp — has not been addressed.

In response to a question from Selectman Tom Sheldon, Fohlin said Monday that he did not recall whether a letter from the town to MassDOT specifically mentioned the angle of entry onto the ramp. But Fohlin said the town has been notified by email that MassDOT has no immediate plans to do further work on the ramp.

The Selectmen voted 5-0 to draft a "diplomatic" letter to the state agency, thanking it for the work it has done up to now but also asking that it consider making modifications to the ramp entrance.

"We could invite (District 1 Highway Director) Peter Niles and his group to come and meet with us," Chairman David Rempell said.

"I'd love to meet them up on that hill," McCarthy said. "We need immediate action."

Robert McCarthy asked the town to push the state on the Route 2 truck ramp.
Earlier in Monday's meeting, the board took action on another front by appointing Jeffrey Thomas to the town's Community Preservation Committee for a two-year term.

Thomas was selected from a pool of three applicants for one "resident member" position on the panel. Kris Kirby and Joan Burns also applied for the slot.

Thomas, a six-year resident of the town, is a scientist who works as a consultant. One of his clients, a Canadian granting agency, pays him to assess grant requests — the same kind of work he would be asked to do on the CPC, Thomas said.

Rempell cited that experience as key to his support of Thomas' candidacy.

"The one piece that really is important is the idea of looking at proposals, assessing how well they are designed to achieve their goal and the question of whether that idea can be brought to fruition," Rempell said.

Both Thomas and Burns addressed the Selectmen before it made its decision. Kirby was out of town and could not attend Monday's meeting, Rempell reported.

Thomas was appointed on a 4-0 vote with Selectman Ronald Turbin recusing himself from the discussion.

In other action:

Taconic President Stephen Pagnotta, left, and bar manager Greg Canales appeared over the club's alcohol infraction.
• The board voted to write a letter of reprimand to Taconic Golf Club after its bar failed an alcoholic beverage compliance check this summer. Bar manager Greg Canales and club President Stephen Pagnotta expressed their regret and reported that the employee who served an undercover underage visitor was suspended for 10 days after the incident.

• The board approved a common victualer license for the Store at Five Corners and granted a request by the Parish of Sts. Patrick and Raphael to close Southworth Street on Sunday, Sept. 23, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the annual parish picnic.

• Fohlin reported to the board that the MassDOT Bridge Division has directed the town to narrow the bridge on Hopper Road over the Green River to one lane. Signs will be posted on both sides of the bridge with yield signs placed on the northbound approach. Fohlin said the bridge is scheduled for replacement by MassDOT in the next couple of years.

• And Fohlin said the top coat of pavement will be applied to North Hoosac Road on Wednesday, Sept. 12. Traffic will be limited to one lane during the paving.

Tags: accident,   appointments,   community preservation,   MassDOT,   truck ramp,   

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