Templeton residents approve of proposed fixes to Royalston Road

By Chance Viles, Reporter

TEMPLETON — Neighbors and residents of Royalston Road (Route 68) voiced their support for the proposed road project during a public hearing on Wednesday, Dec. 12, calling for town officials to make sure the job is done in a timely fashion.

The project is being looked at by the Department of Transportation, with engineer design work being done by Fuss & O’Neill out of Springfield. The project is currently at 25 percent design, and the two groups held a public hearing for feedback before they begin looking to advance the project and secure funding.

The proposed work is a total do-over of the 2.6-mile Royalston Road/Route 68 stretch from the Phillipston/Templeton town line, all the way to where the road intersects with Route 202.

“This is going to be a big project,” Fuss & O’Neill Project Manager Nick Lapointe said. “There are a lot of drainage issues and environmental areas we must be sensitive about.”

The project is expected to cost roughly $5 million, including construction and things like police detail.

Improvements include addition of 4-foot shoulders in the road, more closed drainage systems and grass swales in areas that see flooding, replacement of the Norcross Hill Brook culvert and another large culvert, replacement of all roadway cross culverts, new pavement markings and signage, improvements to roadway geometry, improvements to the slope of the road, addition of stabilization slopes to stop hillside deterioration along the road, and utility pole relocations.

“A lot of these drainage issues cause flooding. … (A)nd are what end up cracking and deteriorating these roads so badly,” Lapointe said. “The Department of Public Works has spent a lot of time and money filling potholes and things on this road.”

The road will be totally reclaimed as well. The entirety of the project is going to be done in one phase, rather than done in portions over a period of time.

Lapointe stressed the importance of a strong Route 68, considering that 10 percent of traffic on that road is commerce and trucks, a higher percentage of truck use than most roads in the area.

“If we don’t do a long-term fix on this road, you will have to repave it again every five years because of these drainage issues,” Lapointe said.

Drainage issues also lead to literal road flooding across Norcross Brook and cracking and potholes along the shoulders of the roads, creating dangerous driving conditions.

“You often have to drive down the center of the road, which is dangerous and illegal,” resident Rae-Anne Trifilo said, reading from a letter written by a resident who could not attend the hearing.

Trifilo also pressed for ways to get updates on the work and design, as residents expressed concern that the project would not get done until well after 2020.

“We are working on updating our website, and there you will be able to subscribe and see updates to all of the projects we have,” Town Administrator Carter Terenzini said. “We will keep the public informed on this project.”

Overall, residents were happy to hear about reconstruction of the road, knowing all too well of its poor conditions.

“I have lived here for 42 years and this is the first time I heard about them fixing the road,” resident Carol Garvey said. “I am happy to hear that and thank you.”

There is no current timeline for construction, as the project must be reviewed by MassDOT before any funding is secured.

“This 25 percent design is a big milestone and necessary to get this work done,” Lapointe said.

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