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Bedford's South River Road plan laid out

BEDFORD — Residents may offer input at a public hearing on the layout of South River Road and the need for easements, so the town can begin safety improvements to the corridor.

The public hearing is slated for Wednesday, July 16, at 7 p.m. at 10 Meetinghouse Road. At the hearing, the layout of the road, easements at Washington Place, Colby Court and Beaudoin Street, and the acquisition of property rights will be discussed.

The public hearing is a statutory requirement whenever a change to a right of way is made.

The Town Council approved the Tax Increment Financing District, or TIF, plan in March, paving the way for safety improvements and a revitalization of South River Road and some side streets to promote economic development in the area. The main project will entail repaving and sidewalk improvements, and additional lighting and landscaping at certain intersections. TIF is a method to use future gains in taxes to subsidize current improvements.

The town has successfully negotiated easements with several property owners, but a few of the original 29 properties directly impacted by permanent or temporary easements remain. The town is hoping all easements will be negotiated to prevent the taking of any land by eminent domain.

“We are still negotiating to acquire easements. There are 12 easements that remain outstanding. They will be the subjects of the July 16 hearing, although we are close to agreement on a few of them,” said Town Manager Steve Daly.

The TIF project is estimated to cost about $5 million, of which $4.1 million will be bonded. Other funding sources include capital reserves and off-site improvement contributions by developers, said Daly.

“We have been working on the prospectus and lining up the sale, which we plan to execute in September,” he said.

In 2011, the town authorized the council to pursue a bond for $4.1 million, and for 2014 the council authorized an additional $100,000 in the capital improvement plan for traffic signals, and $900 from an infrastructure bond.

The plan calls for a 4-foot paved shoulder, two lanes northbound and southbound and a 13-foot dual center lane along the corridor.

Construction will begin at the CVS pharmacy to the city line, and the area from Kilton Road to Back River Road. Improvements to side streets will include Park Drive, Upjohn Street, Beaudoin Street, Eastman Avenue, Wathen Road, Hull Road and Colby Court. A dedicated right lane will be added from Colby Court into Bedford Place to improve safety and traffic flow.

Two intersections — Palomino Lane and Beaudoin Street — will see the most safety changes. The intersection at Palomino Lane, South River Road and Washington Place has had 25 accidents in the past five years.

The area is heavily traveled with about 26,000 vehicles near Macy’s, 23,000 near Wathen Road, and 19,000 at Colby Court.

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