WILMINGTON, MA — At last week’s Selectmen Meeting, the Board unanimously voted NOT to eliminate any stops at the North Wilmington Commuter Rail station.
Town officials — along with the town’s public safety officials, the town’s state delegation, and the MBTA — have been discussing ways to prevent commuter rail trains from blocking Middlesex Avenue — and delaying public safety vehicles — when stopped at North Wilmington station.
“We’ve begun discussion contemplating discontinuing the flag stop arrangement that exists for inbound trains,” Town Manager Jeff Hull told Selectmen earlier in the month. “MBTA did a survey [this winter] and noted that particular stops — 11:18am, 12:34pm, 2:29pm, 9:30pm, and 11:19pm — had basically no activity on any of those stops… One of the thing suggested as a possibility is that, on a trial basis, the train be allowed to continue through at its normal rate of speed.”
After two weeks to reflect on the issue, Selectmen decided not to eliminate the stops.
“If we give up these stops, we will still be paying the same amount to the MBTA, correct?,” said Selectman Greg Bendel.
“That’s correct,” said Town Manager Jeff Hull. “Assessment is based on a city or town’s population. Reducing the number of stops will not impact the assessment figures.”
“I don’t think we should give up any stops,” agreed Selectman Mike McCoy, who noted there are folks in North Wilmington that may want to utilize the train stops that are being proposed for elimination.
“I’m also very hesitant to set a precedent of removing flag stops,” said Selectman Jonathan Eaton. “I was encouraged that the MBTA has seemingly improved some of the issues that have been going on there.”
Eaton asked that the issue be revisited in approximately six months — around the time the MBTA revises its schedule — in case the blocking of the road increases. Eaton wants the board to “keep our thumb on the pulse of this issue.”
“The MBTA did a survey, but only at one point in time. If we’re going to revisit in six months, I’d like to ask the MBTA to make the survey wider in scope,” said Selectman Chair Kevin Caira. “I’d like a better understanding of who uses the train at those times.”
Eaton also asked that the Board keep in contact with Wilmington’s public safety officials, who see the blocking of the road as it arises during life and death situations. Eaton wants to hear their input, especially if there’s a regression in the recent progress that MBTA has made on the issue.
Watch the discussion, courtesy of Wilmington Community Television, beginning at the 29-minute mark:
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