Railroad Denies Request

The Genese & Wyoming Railroad Services, Inc. (locally known as the Providence & Worcester Railroad) responded to a letter sent on behalf of the Millbury Planning Board, dated January 20, 2022, denying their request for a 65% contribution by the railroad to offset the developer, Steven F. Venincasa, offsite development costs of improvements within the railroad right-of-way (see the letter’s contents below and a link to the letter).


The Town of Millbury’s partial funding request on January 11, 2022 for the railroad crossing upgrade required to complete the proposed Rice Pond Village development was carefully considered. However, the Providence and Worcester Railroad (P&W) will respectfully be unable to provide any funding for this project at this time. The Rice Road crossing currently meets standard requirements for the existing conditions and the P&W is unable to spend its’ limited funding on replacing railroad assets that have not yet reached the end of their lifecycle. The following are the seven main considerations taken when determining the necessity to install active warning devices:

  • Volume of vehicular traffic
  • Volume of railroad traffic
  • Speed of vehicular traffic
  • Speed of railroad traffic
  • Volume of pedestrian traffic
  • Collision record
  • Sight distance restrictions

The only variable with this project is the addition of 46 units and the widening of Rice Road, which will significantly increase the volume of vehicular and pedestrian traffic along with vehicular speed at this crossing, causing the current warning assembly to be out of compliance. It is not the financial responsibility of the P&W to upgrade existing satisfactory railroad assets to align with increased standards necessary to support the modifications being made to the surrounding properties that do not directly involve the railroad. The P&W receives many more requests to participate in funding endeavors than our relatively limited resources will permit. This leads to difficult decisions in establishing priorities and means that a number of important activities, such as yours, cannot be supported at this time. We are appreciative of the information forwarded to us and of the time and effort put forth.


In addition to upgrading Rice Road: the width of the pavement the full length of Rice Road; the railroad crossing alignment; signals and reinstalling crossing gates; the intersection of Rice Road and South Main Street; and the intersection of Rice Road and Providence Street (Route 122A), all of which are the developer’s obligation in accordance with the Millbury Zoning Bylaws and Subdivision Control Law, not the railroad, the neighborhood, or town’s taxpayers, so the developer, Steven F. Venincasa, can generate a greater net profit for himself and the McLaughlin Family Living Trust. All of these offsite upgrades are necessitated by the additional 46 dwelling units that the developer, Steven F. Venincasa, is proposing to add on Rice Road and are to protect the safety of all Rice Road road users and the neighborhood.

Reference

Letter from Providence & Worcester Railroad

Letter to Genese & Wyoming Railroad Services, Inc.

Note: The Genese & Wyoming Railroad Services, Inc. is the parent company of the Providence & Worcester Railroad. The railroad crossing which is the subject of safety concern is located on Rice Road in Millbury, Massachusetts, just west of the intersection of Providence Street (Route 122A) and Rice Road, which has existed since 1846±. The current railroad crossing infrastructure and signals were installed in 1979, at which point the prior railroad crossing gates were removed. The Rice Road railroad crossing had railroad crossing gates at a minimum between 1960± to 1979, if not prior to 1960±. In 1960, the Brookvale Project, the formal name of the subdivision that created lots on a portion of Rice Road and all of the lots on Thomas Hill Road, Aldrich Avenue, and Captain Peter Simpson Road were approved and built, creating the neighborhood of 37 single-family houses, where some of the original owners or their children still reside today.