Sandwich Mulls Safety Of Jarves Street Grade Crossing

Sandwich town officials are exploring possible steps to increase the safety of motorists approaching the Jarves Street railroad grade crossing.

The officials are looking into the matter in the wake of concerns raised by Allen B. Osgood, who lives on Jarves Street.

Mr. Osgood said recently that the resumption of the seasonal CapeFLYER passenger train service on the line through the crossing raises safety issues, especially for motorists approaching the crossing from Church Street.

Church Street intersects Jarves Street a few feet north of the grade crossing.

The state, which owns the railroad line, has installed warning lights that face not only Jarves but Church Street.

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Yet the view of motorists on Church Street heading toward the crossing remains obstructed by the Murray building, which sits very close to the tracks and the grade crossing, and by trucks parked on Church Street next to the building.

Mr. Osgood sees crossing gates as a solution. He was mystified why gates recently were installed at the grade crossing on Old County Road rather than at Jarves Street.

But in an e-mail sent May 30 to Mr. Osgood and Sandwich officials, Thomas S. Cahir, administrator of the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, stated that work recently completed at the crossing will allow the CapeFLYER to roll through at the intended speed of 30 miles per hour. The authority is a partner in the train’s operation.

The train, which operates Fridays through Sundays aside from holiday trips, has no scheduled stops between Buzzards Bay and Hyannis.

A temporary speed restriction had been in effect at the crossing because of track alignment issues, but Mr. Cahir stated that restriction no longer was necessary due to the recent track work.

At present, he stated, the Jarves Street crossing meets all applicable standards to allow the train to travel at the intended speed.

“MassCoastal (the operating railroad), MassDOT (the owner) and the MBTA (the CapeFLYER operator) have reviewed the crossing,” Mr. Cahir stated. “The operation of this crossing is consistent with crossings throughout the state rail network.”

He stated that he is aware of many crossings across the state equipped with similar flashers and bells that have been functioning safely for years with higher train speeds.

“We recognize that there is a change, but it is within consistent standards, and trains are instructed to operate up to the allowable speeds,” Mr. Cahir stated. “I have spoken to the people I work with in providing CapeFLYER service and asked that they be especially cognizant of Jarves Street in Sandwich.”

On June 3, town manager George H. Dunham said the town is looking into areas of the intersection in which the town has a say, such as parking on Church Street.
Mr. Dunham said the town does not have jurisdiction over property controlled by the state (the railroad line), but is reviewing the safety of the area in general.

The town manager said some of the parking concerns on Church Street relate to the Murray property at 1 Church Street, which, he said, has engaged in pre-existing, non-conforming issues for many years.

In a response to Mr. Cahir, Mr. Osgood said he appreciated his prompt response and the information that he provided, but that he holds to his statement regarding the safety of the grade crossing.

Mr. Osgood said on June 5 that he was very pleased to learn of Mr. Dunham’s overall concerns about the intersection.

Another Jarves Street resident, Parke H. Madden, said he shares Mr. Osgood’s concerns about the safety of the grade crossing.

“I’d like the train to pass through slower,” Mr. Madden said. “Times when the CapeFLYER is passing through the neighborhood are the same times people are walking dogs, riding bikes, and driving to the [Sandwich] Boardwalk.”

The resident said he would like to know what speed limit governs the train and whether anyone monitors its speed through the crossing.

In a related concern, Mr. Madden said he would like to see the railroad play a more active role in landscaping and picking up trash at Sandwich’s traditional, if lightly used, depot, which sits just to the east of the Jarves Street crossing.

The Maddens already are doing their bit, maintaining the small garden that sits next to Jarves Street at the depot. The family maintains the plot in the name of The Weather Store, Mr. Madden’s business on Main Street.

“As the depot is in the middle of a neighborhood on the way to the boardwalk, we feel it is important to keep it from getting overgrown,” Mr. Madden said.

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