BILLERICA -- While selectmen rejected proposals from engineers Monday night, they also approved other proposals that intend to increase safety for pedestrians in the town center.
Selectmen, the town's roadway commissioners, initially had some concerns about the proposals in April, and they voted down a few of them Monday, including "bump-outs" in front of the Masonic Lodge on Concord Road.
Bump-outs are curb extensions that would make the area more friendly to walkers, reducing the three lanes on Concord Road to two lanes, according to the engineers.
However, selectmen voted 3-1 to forgo the bump-outs and proceed with flashing lights, in addition to a textured crosswalk.
"I am definitely against that bump-out," Selectman George Simolaris. "I'm concerned about the traffic being affected because of it. It's going to cause more problems there. I do want the lights there, though."
With blinking crosswalk lights, the pedestrian would press a button for the lights to go on, so it would be clearer that a pedestrian is trying to cross. There will also be blinking crosswalk lights in front of the Center Cafe on Boston Road.
Selectman Andrew Deslaurier pushed for the rejected bump-outs on Concord Road, emphasizing the proposal was in the "full spirit" of the plan.
"This provides an enormous amount of refuge for pedestrians," Deslaurier said. "I don't think this will impede traffic that much. This is a critical part of the plan.
In addition, selectmen approved a bump-out at the O'Connor Hardware intersection, while rejecting the Traffic Management Committee's plan to reduce the three lanes on Boston Road to two lanes.
"Reducing the lane would significantly impede traffic," Selectmen Chairman Mike Rosa said.
Marty Conway, chairman of the traffic committee, said it was important to at least keep the bump-out there for pedestrian safety.
Further, selectmen approved Rosa's proposal for three lanes at the end of Andover Road. The left lane will be for cars turning onto Concord Road, the middle lane will be for River Street, and the right lane will be for Boston Road heading north. Selectmen also approved other crosswalk and curb improvements Monday.
The pedestrian-safety improvements have been estimated at $240,000, which breaks down to $200,000 for the construction cost and $40,000 for a 20 percent contingency. The funding would come out of state Chapter 90 road funds.
This improvement plan comes about a year and a half after voters rejected the $14 million proposal to reinvent the town center, which had been approved at Town Meeting a month earlier.
Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter and Tout @rsobeyLSun.