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Egypt Road petition dismissed

WHATELY — The Franklin Regional Council of Governments dismissed a petition by a group of 13 residents to discontinue their road.

On Wednesday, the Executive Committee of the council — a five-member board responsible for overseeing county road actions — held a two-hour public hearing at the Whately Elementary School to hear the request of petitioners and neighbors to close Egypt Road.

The petitioners called for complete discontinuance of the road according to state general law Chapter 82, Section 1. The road would revert to the abutters and become private property.

“The (council) felt the petition was not complete and was unclear in what they were asking for,” said Whately Town Administrator Lynn Sibley.

The petitioners have the opportunity to submit a new petition in the future.

The council asked the neighbors to get verification from the state Department of Transportation on how the state originally slated the dirt road for closure before rewriting the petition, explained Robbie Douyard, an Egypt Road resident and petitioner.

Try again

Douyard said the petitioners’ lawyer, Mark Tanner of Northampton, is preparing to resubmit a petition.

The petitioners’ main concern, Douyard said, is public safety. The neighbors worry the railroad tracks create a threat to public safety, crossing too close to the petitioners’ homes.

The other side of the argument from the town public safety officials is it could take emergency responders an extra four minutes to reach Long Plain Road from State Road if Egypt Road closed.

The crossing, which cuts through Egypt Road, is slated for an upgrade by the state Department of Transportation that would include new gates, flashing lights, audible warning devices and pavement for a 60-mph train that would come through.

The crossing is part of a project to bring Amtrak passenger train stops to Greenfield and Northampton.

Earlier in the year, the state asked the Board of Selectmen whether the town would prefer to close the road or keep it open. Keeping the road open would require the state to upgrade the crossing, which was one of 23 public crossings from Vermont to Springfield listed for possible closure in 2010 due to its low volume of traffic and because it is a dirt road.

After three public hearings, the selectmen voted to keep the road open in June and some Egypt Road residents followed with their petition directly to the council.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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