Residents voice concerns over Route 130 traffic

BROOKLINE – Route 130, as it twists and winds from Nashua and Hollis to Brookline, has become “incredibly dangerous,” especially as vehicles approach the center of town, residents said.

During an informational meeting conducted by the Planning Board and the Nashua Regional Planning Commission at Town Hall Thursday night, about a dozen people said truck traffic headed for a sand and gravel operation in the north end of town has damaged their quality of life.

NRPC Executive Director Steve Williams said his organization has just started to study the road and is trying to identify the problems it’s causing for residents.

He solicited input from townspeople Thursday, but said it is still too early to discuss solutions to the traffic problems.

“We’re just getting started,” he said, adding that NRPC will update traffic counts on the road and analyze traffic speeds, driveway locations, intersection configurations and sidewalks, along with other issues, before it offers recommendations to local and state officials.

Right now, traffic counts show about 5,400 vehicles using the road each day, said Mark Archambault and Matt Waitkins of the NRPC. They said their preliminary analysis shows an increase in traffic of 2 to 4 percent a year.

But residents said they believe the increase has been more dramatic, especially in the number of the trucks using the road. The vibrations from trucks rumbling along cause shakes and rattles in historic homes in the center of town, they said, creating noise problems and making plaster fall from walls and ceilings.

“Physical damage, year after year, is being done to these homes,” said Basil Harris, who lives in one of those houses.

Helen Fenske, the town’s representative to the NRPC, said large, heavy-duty commercial trucks use the road as a “dynamically active bypass.”

The town’s municipal offices, library, churches and elementary school are all located along the road, she said, and truck traffic is making the center of town a less desirable place to live.

“Their weight, speed and noise impact seriously compromise our most desirable community values,” she wrote in a letter informing residents of Thursday’s meeting.

Other residents echoed her concerns and said the road – which is called Main Street, Proctor Hill Road, Ash Street and Broad Street as it runs from Brookline through Hollis to Nashua – has been turned into a “major highway.”

The NRPC will hold another public session when its study has been completed, Williams said. Recommendations for improvements will be forwarded to the state Department of Transportation, which would have the final say over what types of changes could be undertaken to make the road safer.

The local School Board has already asked that a signalized crosswalk be constructed near the elementary school, according to Frank Lukovits, one of the co-chairmen of the Planning Board.