Barre council wants voters to have say on truck bypass
BARRE — Thanks to a last-minute vote change by Mayor Thomas Lauzon at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, residents will have a chance to voice their opinion at town meeting about yet another proposed alternate truck route — this one through Merchants Row.
The council voted 4-2 on Tuesday to put the nonbinding referendum on the ballot. Lauzon had initially voted against the measure, putting the tally at 3-3 and killing the motion, but later changed his vote in favor.
In the initial vote, Michael Boutin, Charles Dindo and Lucas Herring favored the ballot question. Opposing were Anita Chadderton, Michael Smith and the mayor.
Seconds later, however, after Boutin asked if the issue could be tabled, Lauzon changed his mind.
“You know what? I am going to change my vote and put this thing out of its misery,” Lauzon said.
Thus the debate continues on whether to route heavy truck traffic around the newly reconstructed North Main Street.
During the “Big Dig” project, trucks were detoured onto Summer Street. Only recently, on Nov. 27, after the project’s completion, did the council vote to abandon the Summer Street detour and have trucks again travel through the downtown on North Main. That vote came on the heels on an advisory committee’s recommendation that the idea of making permanent the Summer Street bypass be rejected.
Lauzon proposed a ballot question at the council’s Nov. 27 meeting to gauge the public’s interest in maintaining an alternative truck route. At Tuesday’s council meeting, Lauzon said he didn’t want to put a question to voters that specifically suggested either Summer Street or Merchants Row as a truck route.
“I want to know what the whole city feels their downtown should be like,” she said.
Dindo, who ended up voting for the ballot question, initially characterized the notion of the referendum as “senseless.”
“All the council members are put here by the voters to make decisions like this,” Dindo said. “I don’t see another truck route without costing the taxpayers a lot of money to achieve something that seems like it is set where it is right now.”
Lauzon conceded that if residents do want an alternate route for truck traffic, it would be an expensive undertaking. He said the Summer Street intersections at Maple Avenue and Elm Street would have to be reconstructed because the turns are too tight for trucks to drive through freely. A Merchants Row route would also cost taxpayers money and could have an impact on the redevelopment planned for that part of the city.
Boutin proposed the Merchants Row ballot question after first proposing voters be asked if they wanted an alternate truck route as long as it wasn’t Summer Street.
Lauzon laughed seemingly in frustration after the initial motion was put forward, saying, “2014 can’t come fast enough.”
His term as mayor runs out in 2014.
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