FRAMINGHAM – Traffic is a major issue for residents in Framingham.
Roads get clogged during the morning and evening commute, and when schools are released in the afternoon.
Plus, the Framingham/Worcester commuter rail has not always been reliable. It has delays in the snow, delays in the rain, and even delays in the heat of summer.
On September 26, voters will narrow the choices for the first mayor for Framingham from seven to two. And one of the tasks on the to do list for the first mayor will be to help alleviate traffic problems for residents.
On any given week in town, there is traffic on the major north and south routes as well as the east to west routes.
This year, road work has been seen on Route 135, Route 126 and Union Avenue. Plus, the Winter Street bridge is still closed and behind schedule. No surprise, to many residents, as the MASSDOT bridge project is just one of many bridge projects not completed on time in the past decade.
Framingham has the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority, but some residents think it needs to be expanded to help the traffic issues. Others think more bicycle and walkable routes will help.
All seven candidates for mayor were asked: Traffic is a major issue for many Framingham residents. How will you work with the city council and the Commonwealth to alleviate this headache for residents?
Editor’s Note: Response appear below based on how the candidate appears on the September 26 ballot.
Josh Horrigan: Innovation.
The only way to decrease traffic is to get cars off the road.
We do this by pinpointing 5-7 “destination spots” around the city.
In these spots we use a combination of strategically placed parking areas/garages, a shuttle system to and from them, and the development of a city wide bike path.
Eventually I think a tram/monorail type system would work beautifully in our city. Though these ideas seem costly and futuristic, I am 100% confident there is plenty of private money and government grants at the ready to ease the financial burden.
We are notorious for our abysmal traffic and minor solutions have continued to fail us. It is time we aim higher.
We need solutions that are going to work for the next 20 years, not just a band aid on a broken leg. The implementing of traffic solutions will be a top priority going forward.
John Stefanini: As I have travelled throughout Framingham, neighborhood by neighborhood, one of the top concerns I hear from folks is the affect traffic has on their quality of life.
It is obvious there is too little planning and coordination among municipal departments and state transportation officials as to how best to avoid a chaotic traffic and construction projects that terribly inconveniences our residents and causes lost customers for our local small businesses.
The Charter creates a new citizen-driven Traffic Commission to hear and address resident’s concerns about local and peak flow.
I will use my decades of work in state and municipal government to leverage relationships and resources to improve local traffic flow, expand public transit options, create additional walking and biking paths, and make repairs to aging infrastructure.
Dhruba Sen: I will work with the Traffic Commission, Council and the State to ensure we identify the real bottle necks and identify the Root Causes thereof.
I will institute regular meetings not only with these entities but also the community at large.
I will institute a Task Force consisting of all the stake holders and Subject Matter Experts.
I will review the issues, risk and task status in these meetings.
I will negotiate with the stake holders for the best possible traffic solution for Framingham.
My first task will be to ensure that we have accurate traffic data. I feel the current traffic management system is based on very outdated data – the estimate of three fundamental parameters are very inaccurate – Average Que Length, Average Waiting Time and Average Inter Arrival Time at each traffic intersection.
I will examine the “Flying Pod” transportation solution provided by the company TransitX for piloting and subsequent implementation in Framingham. This is a solar power based driver-less point-to-point over head transportation solution. The City of Marlboro is considering approving the piloting of this solution.
Mark Tilden: We’re not getting a tunnel to run the trains through. Nor is a fly-over ramp coming anytime soon to the downtown crossing.
The answer is people need to get out of their cars.
Encourage large employers, especially those in the industrial parks to establish parking lots on the outskirts of town and shuttle employees to their work places. Some streets in heavily residential neighborhoods have become cut throughs putting children at risk.
We need to give strong consideration to parents that request speed bumps and speed tables to slow down the cars.
School buses should increase the length between pickup and drop off spots. It won’t hurt the kids if they have to walk another hundred yards or so to their bus stops every morning.
Yvonne Spicer: People of all ages have reached out to me during this campaign and shared the frustrations they have across all sectors of our transportation system. Whether it’s long wait times in rush hour traffic, rail-related congestion, unreliable public transportation and more options needed for our seniors, we must address this in a comprehensive way.
As prescribed by the Charter, I will create a “Transportation Commission” with the goal of analyzing the findings of the town-wide traffic study and finding solutions for our unmet transportation needs.
We can and must do a better job coordinating the timing of construction to avoid rush hours and planning for bicyclists and pedestrians.
We have a lot of work ahead of us developing our blighted plazas and revitalizing key areas in our city. Tackling traffic immediately and planning our streets and roadways for the future will allow us to give our full attention to redevelopment and revitalization sooner and more fully.
Ben Neves-Grigg: I will initially review the study the Planning Board has recently conducted and access how that looks as compared to approved projects of homes, apartments and retail in Framingham.
I will immediately make liaison with state officials to gain their planning for the MetroWest and Framingham particularly and see how that lays out against the forecasted traffic needs of our residents.
As I have mentioned, the City Council is crucial to identifying the needs of our residents, they are the ear for the people of their district.
So, with the needs expressed by the Council and the planned needs we will approach the Commonwealth with informed request that are well justified.
During the approval process of any construction project we will require that part of the planning and approval process include infrastructure renovation to meet expected demand, not only in the immediate vicinity but how that impacts traffic down the road.
Priscila Sousa: One of the things that affects our quality of life daily in Framingham is our traffic. With over 30,000 cars in our streets every day, it is not hard to see how this is such a huge issue.
Framingham has done a commendable job in participating in the Commonwealth’s Complete Streets program, which was created to promote “the safety and comfort of all roadway users, including pedestrians, bicyclists and public transit” and I will continue that work. In addition to adopting this program that will provide some much needed infrastructure relief as we continue development, there is also a real financial benefit to our involvement. Our continued involvement has resulted and will continue to result in state funds awarded to invest in our streets. This project will help us create streets that accommodate vehicular traffic, bicyclists and pedestrians.
There have been traffic studies done over the years here in Framingham, but traffic studies are of little use unless it translates into a plan that continues the work of the Complete Streets program and provides immediate relief to our residents. The charter provides for a Traffic Commission to be formed within two years. Two years is a long time to wait for any traffic relief.
As mayor I will expedite the formation of this traffic commission to begin addressing the problems now. Two years from now will be too late for us as a population, for the commerce operating in our downtown area and for the potential new families that are looking for a place to settle down. With the possibility of major residential developments being approved even before January, traffic is a big problem now that could become even bigger if we do not make this into a priority now.
As part of my plan to create space for innovation, I will be facilitating discussions for long-term traffic relief, such as a cost effective expansion of public transportation and transit oriented development projects. Traffic in Framingham is an issue that precedes the automobile and providing proper governmental resources to explore alternatives solutions is long overdue.