Saturday, August 6, 2011
The above picture (photo credit) illustrates one of the proposed reconfigurations of the I95/I93 interchange, a design that eliminates all the current traffic cross-overs of oncoming and exiting traffic. The current cloverleaf design has tight turning radii that requires drivers to decelerate quickly, crossover entering traffic, and reenter the highway at sub-optimal traffic speeds. The need to upgrade this often congested interchange is illustrated by the fact that between 1995-2001 this interchange ranked between 1st and 6th on a list of the 1000 worst crash sites in Massachusetts. The traffic congestion that will spill over onto alternate local routes during construction will have significant impacts on local communities.
Like many towns in the greater Boston metropolitan area, Winchester has been experiencing greater traffic volumes than the local roads were designed to carry, resulting in traffic congestion, frustration, and risk to pedestrian safety. Long-time town resident Bob Cummings was heard at a Selectman’s meeting last year commenting that traffic had increased tremendously on Pond Street (where he lives) over the past couple decades. Winchester is a well built-out community, but increasing density from local improvements like the 50 new units being built in the Pansy Patch development on Route 3 and the Winchester Hospital expansion (including doctor’s offices at 1021 Main Street) will continue to increase traffic volumes and put further strain on traffic throughput and pedestrian safety.
Add to the increasing local traffic, increasing inter-city commuting traffic, and the forthcoming I93-I95 interchange overhaul (learn more about the project at http://9395info.com/) which will cause regional commuters to seek alternate routes through surrounding towns and you have a perfect storm of traffic poised to surge through our local Winchester streets resulting in greater congestion and injury to Winchester residents. It is worth noting that increased regional cut-through traffic disproportionately risks local Winchester residents as the pedestrians who take the disproportionate injury in car-pedestrian/bike collisions are disproportionately local whereas the cars are increasingly just passing through from other towns so our obligation as Winchester residents and policy makers needs to be disproportionately toward the pedestrian safety of our residents, then to the throughput of both residents and pass-through traffic.
The Winchester Board of Selectmen are aware of these forthcoming pressures and, as they move into studies and work on Phase II of the town’s Comprehensive Master Plan during 2011-2012, will be looking at “Circulation and Transportation (vehicles, bicycles, train, bus, and pedestrian movement).” In fact, the Selectmen ran a competitive bid process and selected Fay, Spofford & Thorndike to conduct the Traffic and Circulation Study on the Town of Winchester. FS&T was provided with the "Forrest-Cross-Pond-Johnson" (FCPJ) Corridor as a case problem for their analysis. In addition to regional cut-through traffic, heavy ambulance/truck usage, proximity to schools/day care centers/recreation facilities, and poorly designed roads were cited as factors for consideration. The consultants were asked to “balance the needs of automobile drivers, truckers, bicyclists, pedestrians, businesses and residents along the corridor.” This is a critical route that is straining under the current traffic pressures and is at significant risk to resident safety now and as volumes increase.
I may have missed a step but see that there is a Public Hearing scheduled on Monday, August 22, 2011 at 8:45 PM in the Board of Selectmen’s Meeting Room, 2nd Floor of Winchester Town Hall to review the traffic study reports prepared and to be presented by traffic consultants Fay, Spofford and Thorndike on the following intersections: Main Street/Swanton Street/Water Street, Main Street/Hemingway Street, Main Street/Skillings Road/Lake Street. The Public is encouraged to attend.
I encourage all Winchester Residents – particularly those affected by this cut-through route – to attend the hearing Monday, August 22, 2011 at 8:45 PM in the Board of Selectmen’s Meeting Room, 2nd Floor of Winchester Town Hall, to see what is being done to prepare for the coming storm.
Click here to enlarge and see the Winchester FCPJ corridor (red) in relation to both the corresponding Lexington MMW and Stoneham Rt 28 corridors (blue), I93-I95 Overhaul site (green), and the FS&T Traffic Study Areas (orange). From the map you can see how commuters on I95N, Rt2E, and Rt3S might connect to the Winchester FCPJ corridor through Lexington, and how commuters on I95S, I93N, and even Rt1 might connect to the Winchester FCPJ corridor. I'm sure the creative I93S drivers will learn that they can take Rt62W to Rt3S to Lowell Street to join the Winchester FCPJ corridor back to 93S, thereby avoiding the I93-I95 interchange during peak delays.
Friday, August 5, 2011
What does a single solid yellow line tell you on a two-lane road?
A. Unlike a double yellow line, you can pass, make a turn, and even make a U-turn
B. You are on a rural road
C. The same double yellow line rules apply
The answer surprised me. And, it surprised me that the rules of the road on Pond Street had been changed seemingly without notice when the road was mysteriously re-striped last April (see earlier post, When did Pond Street get reclassified as a Double Yellow Road?).
Curious? The answer, according to a Boston.com quiz, is A. Apparently, "Unlike a double yellow line, you can pass, make a turn, and even make a U-turn. Also, since it is so rare, you are likely on an older, rural road."
Interestingly, of the 49,100 votes received before I took the quiz, only 15% selected A (the correct answer), 14% selected B, and 71% selected C (my choice). Assuming that Boston.com is correct, the removal of passing from Pond Street is a good thing. I hope we are still allowed to cross the double yellow line to turn into our driveways...