Traffic Plan for Estabrook's Construction Phase Moves Forward
It appears Grove Street will remain the access road during construction.
Cars and construction vehicles will most likely access Estabrook Elementary School off Grove Street, not Robinson Road, while the new school is being built.
The School Committee unanimously agreed to move forward with such a plan Tuesday, a week after the Estabrook School Access Ad Hoc Task Force unanimously backed the same plan, which was developed by architects at Boston-based DiNisco Design.
Ash said it would take at least one year, maybe two, to upgrade Robinson Road, which runs behind the school, to a suitable level for construction vehicles, and construction on the new school is expected to begin this summer.
Robinson Road, however, has not been ruled out as the main access road once the new school is built, he said.
The district has been working on plans for a roughly $30 million new school since elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) were found in the current Estabrook School at the beginning of last school year.
Under the traffic plan approved Tuesday, which has been dubbed, “Option 5A,” the access road off Grove Street will remain three lanes. When entering, the right lane will be used as a “queuing lane” by cars and school buses during drop-off and pick-up, as it is now; the middle lane will be used as an entrance lane by cars and construction vehicles; and the left lane will be used as an exit lane by all vehicles.
Also under the plan, construction vehicles will not be allowed to come or go during drop-off or pick-up. During the day, construction vehicles will go to a “staging area” in the parking lot next to left field of the baseball field behind the current school, where the new school is expected to be built.
Not a “perfect” plan
Although the plan has been supported by all parties, including the police and fire chiefs and Estabrook School Principal Sandra Trach, Ash said it is not ideal.
“It’s not perfect,” he said. “In a perfect world, you’d have the separation of regular vehicles and construction vehicles.”
Ash said it was found not to be prudent to widen the access road off Grove Street from three to four lanes (52 to 70 feet) to have this separation occur, mainly due to the steep grade surrounding the existing road.
Trach said she likes the plan because it still gives her students plenty of outdoor recreational area (to the right of the school) away from the construction site, and it allows her teachers to park on site.
School Committee members Alessandro Alessandrini and Jessie Steigerwald also want to look into lowering school bus fees as Estabrook School during construction in order to reduce the number of cars queuing on Grove Street in the morning and afternoon.
New Estabrook School’s educational specifications get tentative approval
Also at the meeting, Ash announced that the new Estabrook School’s educational specifications, which outline the scope of the project, were tentatively approved by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), which is expected to reimburse the town for 30 to 40 percent of the project’s overall cost.
“It’s terrific news,” he said. “It means we get the school the size we asked for, and the rooms we asked for.”
Nov. 15 meeting
On Tuesday, Nov. 15, the School Committee will hold a meeting at 7:30 p.m. in Cary Hall Auditorium for interested residents to discuss the proposed plans for the new Estabrook School. The meeting’s presentation can be found on the district’s website (Estabrook Project Overview, Estabrook Space Summary).
The committee has to submit a proposal to the MSBA by Monday, Dec. 5.
Bridge and Bowman Renovations
The School Committee also set $21,670,000 as the exact dollar amount that will be requested at Monday’s Special Town Meeting for the Bridge and Bowman elementary school projects.
The dollar amount represents the $22,700,000 expected cost of the projects minus the $1,030,000 already appropriated, according to Ash. In early October, the projects were estimated at $559,000 less, $22,141,000. Back in the spring, the projects were only expected to cost $19,370,000, a difference of more than $3.3 million.