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Signs eyed for streets where trucks banned

NORTHAMPTON — Residents of Lincoln Avenue and other streets that serve as shortcuts for large trucks may get relief in a proposal to require warning signs on all streets that prohibit commercial truck traffic. The City Council will take up the measure Thursday night.

The move is part of an effort to stop truck drivers from traveling on residential streets — and is one of many steps that have been taken in recent years to deal with truck traffic plaguing streets around the industrial park off Bates Street. It is recommended by Ward 3 City Councilor Ryan R. O’Donnell and the Transportation and Parking Commission.

“It’s too often that big trucks take the wrong turn and drive over sidewalks and people’s property,” O’Donnell said. “We want to prevent that and there are several streets that don’t have signs.”

Also Thursday, the council will be asked to give final approval to the mayor’s proposed $104 million budget for fiscal 2015 that calls for no significant cuts. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. with public comment in the City Council chambers of the Puchalski Municipal Building.

The ordinance amendment involving commercial vehicles would require the Department of Public Works to install the signs on nine streets where commercial vehicles are prohibited at all times. The signs also must clearly display the $300 fine for violating the rule.

O’Donnell said the proposed change is not a cure-all for the woes created by tractor-trailer drivers who take the side streets to either avoid a railroad bridge over Main Street downtown or to get to the industrial park without taking the heavily trafficked Damon Road.

In many cases, truck drivers are directed by GPS units to take the residential streets without knowing they are prohibited. Those drivers are then directed along established truck detours on Lincoln Avenue and Phillips Place. To account for honest mistakes by drivers, O’Donnell’s ordinance states that drivers may first be issued a warning for using these detours. They would be subject to the fine for repeated violations.

In other business Thursday, the council will consider:

∎ Several appointments, including Kristine A. Bissell, of Goshen, as treasurer replacing George Zimmerman; Peter Frothingham to the Housing Partnership; and Diana Soler to the Council on Aging; and reappointments of Mike Ahearn Jr., John Kaczenski Jr. and Kathryn Pekala-Service to the Council on Aging.

∎ A financial order transferring $316,700 from free cash to three accounts: $66,700 to legal services, and $125,000 each to capital stabilization and stabilization.

∎ An order to accept a $1,700 gift for installation of the rainbow crosswalk on Main Street.

∎ A request to extend a moratorium until Dec. 31 on the construction of housing with seven or more units in residential zones close to downtown. The building moratorium is now set to expire July 1.

∎ Final votes on orders to appropriate $2,450 in Community Preservation Act funding for invasive plant eradication at Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area, to buy a small parcel on Dike Road for $2,400, and to accept the donation of a small piece of land off Stone Ridge Drive.

∎ Six ordinance amendments related to parking on Henshaw Avenue, and Maple, Prospect and Massasoit streets.

∎ An ordinance amendment ensuring that affordable housing units created in the city qualify and are credited under the state’s official housing inventory.

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