Lowell City Council Meeting: January 26, 2016

Motion by Councilor Mercier to have a granite marker placed on north side of Ouellette Bridge in honor of Joseph Ouellette. Robert Page speaks in favor. [Ouellette was a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient who was killed in action in during the Korean War]. Motion passes

Motion by Councilors Samaras and Leary to have DPD develop a timeline for the renovation of the Bridge Street corridor in the manor that Cupples Square was recently renovated. Motion passes.
Response to Motions: Councilor Leary thanks representatives from the offices of Congresswoman Tsongas and Senators Warren and Markey for attending the meeting with the school department and promising to seek additional federal funding to help with the education of “newcomer” students coming to Lowell.

43 Market St – Longtime dilapidated building but it has new owners who received necessary permits last night from the board of appeals. Plan is to build “market rate rental housing” on the upper floors of the building.

Traffic Congestion – prior to presentation on this issue by Police Deputy Chief Arthur Ryan Jr, Councilor Elliott thanks Deputy Ryan for his service to the city and wish him well in his coming retirement (other councilors due the same at various times). Manager Murphy says the city has conducted a comprehensive, long-range study of traffic in the city but tonight they will focus on two issues: bridges over the Merrimack and downtown crosswalks. Nicholas Bonsenetto, Traffic Engineer, refers to a handout given to councilors. Congestions occurs at “choke points” which are signalized intersection of which 93 are located in the city, majority of which are controlled by the city. This study address one-third of those intersections for improvement. Some lights are controlled with 1980s technology and are basic timers; others have very modern controllers that use video and other sensors to cause lights to change as traffic requires it. Regarding the Rourke Bridge, the problem is on the Pawtucketville side. Deputy Ryan explains the police will try a 30-day trial of manual manipulation of the traffic lights by police officers. He feels that the computers work very well in light and medium volume. They want to determine of manual manipulation works better in heavy traffic, as at the Rourke and O’Donnell Bridges in afternoon rush hour. Says the Howe Bridge, which has the most modern traffic signals, is working very well. Hopefully the equipment on the remaining bridges will be eventually upgraded. Mass DOT is or will soon spend several million dollars to upgrade the state controlled intersections at the bridges, so that should help. Regarding downtown, the two-way conversion has been in place for eighteen months. They recognize that some things need to be refined, notably the Market/Central/Prescott pedestrian crossing lights.

Motion by Councilor Samaras requests report on illegal parking of cars on Western Avenue. He explains there are cars under repair parked on the street illegally. These pose problems for snow removal but it also makes it difficult to get to Western Ave Studios. Motion passes.

Motion by Councilor Samaras requesting four-way stop signs at Aiken Ave and Moody Street and at Cabot St and Moody St. Explains that Coalition for a Better Acre is concerned about increased volume of traffic in this area. Would like traffic engineer to study this. Motion passes.

Motion by Councilor Samaras and Councilor Belanger to ask the Lowell Development and Finance Corp to consider offering their “first-time home buyer” program to city of Lowell employees.

Motion by Councilor Belanger for a report on the timing of the bid/design/construction of the parking garage for the Hamilton Canal District. Belanger states that according to the RFQ for the entire development, that bridge is to be opened by 2018. He says the city owes it to the developers who have committed and who are committing to the district to get that garage built.

Motion by Councilors Elliott and Belanger for a report on the Plain Street realignment.

Motion by Councilor Leahy for an update on 247 Remmington Street. Question about where the boundary between Lowell and Tewksbury lies relative to this property.

Meeting adjourns at 7:50 p.m.

2 Responses to Lowell City Council Meeting: January 26, 2016

  1. linda says:

    The traffic problem at the Rourke bridge is on the P’ville side? Has the traffic engineer traveled down Wood st. or Middlesex during rush hour when traffic getting on the bridge clogs the intersection? I’ve never seen that on the P’ville side and I travel on the Rourke daily. The bridge and apparently the lights are 33 years old. DOT talks but what’s being done?

  2. Gail says:

    First, thank you for your summary. Regarding the traffic study, I left work early today and took the Howe bridge home –normally I take the O’Donnell as there is less traffic there than the Howe or Oullette. I strongly believe they need to look at all of the bridges as a unit. UML has developed a lot and traffic has changed since then, but in 2003, when the Textile bridge was closed. Oullette was N bound in the evening and S bound in the morning. Additionally, the number of lanes flowing N and S changed on the O’Donnell Bridge during rush hour. Traffic flowed better than when the Textile bridge was open. Additionally the Pawtucketville bus went over Bridge St., which made getting downtown easy.