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Changes to Route 101 in Bedford considered

BEDFORD — About 25,000 vehicles a day travel Route 101 East and West through town, and drivers making left-hand turns off Olde Bedford Way onto Route 101 eastbound have prompted town officials to take action.

Problems at or near the intersection involve people jockeying for position to make the light at Constitution Drive or drivers squeezing others as they merge from two lanes to one. Some drivers have also reported road rage.

“It’s a prescription for disaster,” said Bedford Police Chief Jon Bryfonski. “Do we wait until we have a fatality?”

The Town Council has scheduled a public hearing to discuss a proposed ordinance amendment prohibiting left-hand turns from Olde Bedford Way onto Route 101 heading eastbound.

The hearing takes place Wednesday at 7 p.m., in the Bedford Meeting Room, 10 Meetinghouse Road, and the council invites the public to attend to voice concerns.

Jack Carnevale, co-owner of the Bedford Village Inn at 2 Olde Bedford Way, said he is surprised the Highway Safety Committee and the Town Council are considering prohibiting no left-hand turns at that intersection.

“I’ve been making left-hand turns there for 24 years and I don’t see there’s a problem,” said Carnevale, adding he did not receive proper notification about the hearing from the town.

Carnevale and his family are planning to attend the July 17 council meeting.

He is also concerned the change could inconvenience the inn’s and restaurants’ guests.

“It could create more confusion and problems as guests enter and leave the property,” he said.

Bryfonski said there is an alternative route for people patronizing the Bedford Village Inn.

“They can take a left at the BVI and then a right to the light at 101,” said Bryfonski. “It’s about a 800- to 1,000-foot detour.”

The move was recommended by the Highway Safety Committee to ease traffic flow and prevent accidents.

“Rarely a week goes by that we haven’t seen near misses at that intersection,” said Bryfonski. “Members looked at the dangers at the intersection, especially during commuting hours from 3 to 6 p.m.”

In September 2010, the Highway Safety Committee looked at prohibiting left-hand turns at Olde Bedford Way and Bedford Center Road at Route 101. However, members decided to table prohibiting left-hand turns at Bedford Center Road.

“Sight is better there for folks to not make hasty left turns,” Bryfonski said, adding that preventing left turns at Bedford Center Road would also put a strain on surrounding side roads.

The Highway Safety Committee identifies local traffic safety problems and needs, analyzes problems, proposes solutions and costs, and makes recommendations to the Town Council.“Bedford is a choke point for east and west traffic and we are suffering with it like everyone else,” said Bryfonski.

Police and the Highway Safety Committee often receive complaints from residents regarding speeding in town, and how some intersections are designed, such as Palomino and South River Road.

“We look for the best course of action and take preventative measures,” Bryfonski said.

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