GRAFTON, Mass. — The first of four 80,000-gallon propane tanks will arrive in Grafton by truck Thursday afternoon, Grafton & Upton Railroad owner Jon Delli Priscoli, announced Tuesday during the selectmen meeting, stunning selectmen, residents and a police chief who will face a potential traffic jam.
The speed of the construction of the propane transfer site, which is being done without the input of local officials because of presumed federal railroad exemption laws, quickly turned the meeting into a shouting match.
“He explained to the town, this wouldn’t happen till January,” said Stephen and Kathy Ryan of Waterville Circle. “This involves a lot of people: There are 60 homes and there is a nearby school.”
Although many knew the tanks were coming, Delli Priscoli told the town in earlier meetings that it would be next month. That timeline has accelerated because the tanks were finished ahead of schedule.
The tank, which is about 14 feet high and weighs 225,000 pounds, will eventually store 80,000 gallons of propane fuel on the site located off Westborough Road and North Main Street. Three additional tanks will be delivered on Dec.18, 19 and 20.
The truck route will exit Route 20 to Route 122 and travel slowly through North Grafton, past Wyman Gordon, turn left onto Bridge Street, left onto North Main Street, right onto Waterville Street, and then left onto Westborough Road to the site. The exact time is not known but, under contract, it will be no later than 3:30 p.m.
The tank will be moved by LPG Ventures, a propane tank specialist based in Raytown, Mo., and will be escorted by Massachusetts State Police.
The route, which will originate in Fall River, has been carefully planned with every street corner reviewed and approved by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, said John Holstein, a consultant for Grafton & Upton Railroad. Originally, the tank was to be moved overnight, when fewer cars are on the road, but the plan was changed.
The daytime schedule announcement was “a whole new thing,” Police Chief Normand A. Crepeau Jr. said. He promised Grafton police officers will be on hand to help. “This will create issues,” he said, referring to traffic flow.
No fuel will be stored until the Federal Railroad Board and the U.S. Fire Administration, plus state and local fire officials, have reviewed the final construction, Delli Priscoli said. That will be in the spring, he said.
Delli Priscoli also said he had no control over the tank delivery, and he was surprised that people did not know this.
“We’ve discussed this at every meeting,” he said.
Dennis Flynn, who built a house that overlooks the site, was appalled at how poorly the town has communicated with the neighborhood.
“You need to learn how to talk to us,” he said.
Stephen and Kathy Ryan say the speed of the site’s progress gives them a sense of powerlessness.
“It’s presented as if we don’t have a choice,” said Kathy Ryan. “We don’t know how much of an investigation has been done into this.”