Dalton seeking heavy vehicle ban for Washington Mountain Road

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DALTON — As warmer weather approaches, Washington Mountain Road residents wait for answers.

Persistent noise issues and safety concerns caused by large numbers of heavy trucks have plagued residents for years. The town began a renewed effort in January to address the issues, but they're waiting on others in their effort to forge forward.

That was the message Daniel Filiault, chairman of the town's traffic commission, delivered to the Select Board at its meeting Feb. 12.

"We're doing what we can up there," he said.

To that end, Filiault spent the last days of January and early February sending communications to start the process of alleviating traffic issues on Washington Mountain Road.

Letters have been written to the select boards of Washington and Becket and the city of Pittsfield seeking support for a heavy vehicle ban.

The road crosses through all three municipalities in addition to Dalton.

Emails have been sent to the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission seeking a traffic study of the road, which is required for a heavy vehicle ban.

If approved, the ban would not take effect until warmer weather, according to the traffic commission's report on the steps taken regarding Washington Mountain Road.

Ken Walto, town manager, has also sent a letter to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, asking that department to prioritize posting any applicable bridge weight limits on the road.

The Board of Health plans to discuss the noise level caused by brakes on large trucks, and get back to the board on what steps can be taken, according to the report.

And now — waiting.

"Until things fall into place ... not much more can be done," Filiault said.

Dalton must wait to hear back from the other towns, the state and the town Board of Health about what can be done.

In the meantime, the police continue to monitor the road, and Filiault remains in contact with residents via email.

In January, about 20 residents of Washington Mountain Road attended a Select Board meeting to share concerns about what they described as a constant barrage of heavy, loud trucks and speeding on the road.

Resident Francine Germaine called retrieving her mail a potentially "dramatic, death-defying feat."

She talked about the sound of large trucks, which sometimes starts about 4 a.m.

Children are unable to play anywhere near the road — it's too dangerous.

And the heavy trucks travel on the road's bridges.

"I fear they are being compromised," Germaine told the board about the bridges. "I think it's a matter of time before they fail."

Germaine, along with over 25 of her neighbors, previously signed a petition to the board to issue a weight limit for heavy commercial vehicle traffic on Washington Mountain Road.

"Even passenger vehicles — they come down that road at warp speed," Germaine said. "By the time they reach the top of our hill, they can't stop. It is frightening."

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@berkshireeagle.com, at @BE_pleboeuf on Twitter and 413-496-6247.


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