By Christopher Roberson
A team of representatives from Bayside Engineering recently presented a robust plan to improve the section of Summer Street between Town Hall and the Salem Street intersection. During a June 12 meeting, Bayside Engineering President Norman Brown said the idea for the project surfaced four years ago and has gained traction with the assistance of Department of Public Works Director John Tomasz and Town Engineer Charles Richter. “John and Charlie were enthused about getting us back on track,” said Brown.
Brown said the project would be funded through the state’s Transportation Improvement Program. To do that, he said, a substantial need would have to be established. “Need is more than just lousy pavement,” he said. However, Brown said he does not expect any major problems with garnering funds.
He said that in addition to the pavement, Summer Street’s sidewalks are also in deplorable condition.
Senior Highway Engineer Michael Rizzo presented proposals for the project’s overall design. One plan would widen Summer Street to 50 feet, which would include two 11-foot travel lanes and two 5.5-foot sidewalks. Another design would also be 50-feet wide and would feature two 11-foot travel lanes. Rather than having two sidewalks, Rizzo said, there would be one 10-foot sidewalk, which would be open to both cyclists and pedestrians to encourage children to walk or ride their bikes to school. In addition, Rizzo said temporary construction easements and permanent utility easements could be necessary. However, he said an easement must be obtained before contractors can do any work on residents’ property.
Senior Project Engineer Bruno Campea said the intersections of Summer Street at Walnut Street and Summer Street at Salem Street are “two of the most significant areas.” “Right now, there’s a lot of open pavement areas; there’s uncontrolled movements, which is not good,” he said. Therefore, Campea recommended realigning Summer Street with Walnut Street to create a T-type intersection.
He made a similar suggestion for the Summer Street/Salem Street intersection. His idea there would involve realigning the curbing as well as the intersection for better traffic control and replacing a section of pavement with grass.
Senior Civil and Environmental Engineer Bree Sullivan said one of the project’s obstacles would be drainage. She said there are a number of flat areas along Summer Street that make it difficult for water to flow. “We certainly don’t want any ponding,” she said.
Sullivan also said 25 percent of the storm water runoff from Summer Street goes directly into Pillings Pond. She also highlighted some of the project’s advantages such as reducing pollution, improving storm resilience and lowering the need for maintenance.
In addition, Sullivan called attention to the culvert at Pillings Pond. “The culvert replacement is a big part of this project,” she said, adding that oftentimes, turtles cannot pass through the culvert and are struck by vehicles while attempting to cross Summer Street – “Our culvert standards today are much different than when this was constructed.”
In response to Bayside’s presentation, resident Theresa Yulling said speeding is the biggest problem on Summer Street. “You want to make it wider, you’re asking for trouble,” she said.
Calling MarketStreet Lynnfield “a mess,” Yulling said the town does not need another major project. “You’re destroying this town, that’s the whole point,” she said.
Resident Ian Claypool agreed with Yulling about the speeding problem. “Don’t turn Summer Street into a highway,” he said. “My number one thing is the speed; it’s a residential street; my daughter goes to school on that street.”
Resident Katy Shea asked why Bayside has not studied the intersection of Salem Street and Route 1. Brown said that intersection is “a different animal” in that it is a state highway. Therefore, any redesign would be directly handled by the state Department of Transportation.
Resident Gary Scarborough urged Bayside to only rectify the existing problems. “Fix the sidewalks; remove the trees that are literally in the middle of the sidewalks,” he said.
Scarborough also spoke out against the proposed widening of Summer Street. “It’ll put the road closer to my house,” he said.
However, Rizzo assured him that would not be the case. “No [utility] poles are being moved back eight or 10 feet,” he said.
Resident John Ricciardone agreed that Summer Street needs attention; however, it needs to be done the right way. “The town has done a pretty poor job maintaining stuff,” he said. “It seems like we do an awful lot for bikes and turtles.”
Tomasz said the project is likely to cost more than $10 million. He said if Lynnfield were to fund it internally, work would have to be postponed on approximately 70 streets in town. However, he said a state-funded overhaul of Summer Street seems appealing. “I wouldn’t be doing my duty if I didn’t at least investigate,” he said.
Resident Patricia Campbell said she is not pleased that residents were not informed ahead of time about Bayside’s presentation on May 9. “We are sick of the lack of transparency in Lynnfield,” she said.
Campbell also said that Lynnfield is listed as a Tree City USA. Therefore, she wanted to know how many trees would be taken down during the project. However, Tomasz said he did not have a number readily available.