By Talia Heisey
FRAMINGHAM – A $5.9 million dollar renovation to the Nobscot intersection, will bring a detour this summer, and a 2-year long construction cycle.
The project is expected to begin Monday March 22.
Last night, March 18 the Framingham Department of Public Works hosted a presentation followed by a Q & A on the long-awaited project for about 75 minutes.
“Many of you are probably aware of the existing conditions at the intersection of Nobscot. Nobscot village as a gateway to Framingham from points north and west with Edgell Road being a major North-South corridor through the city. Entire area is abutted by commercial and residential properties. Existing and ongoing development, to increase the business and residential capacity of the area” said Matthew Hayes the project’s senior project manager who gave the presentation, last night.
The City of Framingham is working with Balthazar Contractors on the $5.9 million dollar renovation project. A Commonwealth of Massachusetts $3.4 million MassWorks grant is funding 58% of the project.
“We’ll be upgrading the traffic signal equipment and moving it to a better location away from a possible damage, and we’re looking to improve this statics of this city when some of the project features include a widening travel lanes and turning lanes to 13 foot travel lanes and 10 per turning lanes, again with a turning lane on all four approaches to the intersection” Hayes said.
By renovating the intersection, there will be increased mobility for numerous forms of transportation with enlarged lanes for trucks, an improved crosswalk with imprinting, a left turn lane on Edmands Road, upgraded signal and a new bus shelter by the McAuliffe Library as well as “accommodating bicyclists with sharrows, and that’s this pavement marking here, as you know that the car is very narrow and we cannot fit in exclusive pipelines. So, this will give drivers awareness that they’ll be sharing the road with bicycles when they’re through here,” said Hayes last night.
Construction that starts next week will extend into November 2021, and then will be halted during the winter months.
The project’s winter moratorium will end in April of 2022, continuing until a final paving in fall 2022, explained Framingham DPW last night.
Hayes said the “the winter moratorium on construction is somewhat flexible, as you said it is based on weather” in a response to a question by Nobscot resident Rick McKenna, if the November stop date was set in stone or if it could change depending upon the winter.
“We do look at the weather and depending on a reasonable time or phase of the construction, whether it makes sense to go a little longer into the moratorium, or not. We generally make that decision a couple of weeks before the moratorium occurs,” answered Hayes.
Throughout this 2-year period, construction will occur from 7 a.m. 3:30 pm Monday to Friday.
The project does not involve any night work or weekend work. Pedestrian and local business access will also be maintained despite construction, with police detail on site to assist with traffic as needed, explained Hayes.
There is already construction at the major Nobscot intersection with the new CVS being erected on the corner, and the planned apartment at the former shopping plaza.
With construction beginning so soon, “some of the traffic impacts that you will begin to see starting next week will be lane shifts and alternating traffic lane shifts to facilitate some of the work along the curb line and drainage installations. There’ll be police details on site to facilitate the traffic. All traffic in the area will be monitored by the city over monitoring traffic closely on a daily basis, especially when detours are put into effect,” Hayes said.
Said detours will be introduced in July 2021 as the project shifts into a new phase during the summer to “evacuation for widening.”
“This detour brings traffic from Edmands Road down Genardy Way to the Bolingbroke Road to McAdams Road back to Edgehill Road back to the intersection [on Water Street]. This is a two way detour. So it would also affect east and westbound traffic on Edmonds Road” said Hayes. “Once this once this detour goes into effect the city would monitor the traffic on these roads very closely as a residential area.”
In response to a question posed by at-large City Councilor Janet Leombruno, Hayes said “we expect that detour to the last no longer than two months. That detour will be ongoing, during the daytime only that traffic will be shifted back to the intersection. During non working hours. And that, that detour would be expected to begin sometime in July.”
“The second detour, is a shorter detour … It’s a one way detour from Edgelll to Water westbound traffic on Water Street, would not be impacted by this eastbound Eastbound traffic on Water Street would be detoured down natural road through the CVS parking lot, and back to Water Street eastbound” said Hayes.
These renovations will also be occuring at the same time as utilities relocations and private development. Hayes said, “Utility relocations by Eversource and Eversource electric and Eversource gas are anticipated to start next month and run through early summer.”
The presentation ended by addressing seven pre submitted questions.
Two people’s questions addressed design and landscaping aesthetics which could not be added to the project due to other considerations.
In response to one submitted question, Hayes gave more information on the design and material of the bus shelter saying it will be Aspen style, designed to compliment the Christa McAuliffe branch library and would be made of aluminum.
Upon transitioning to the taking questions from the audience, the Department of Public Works began fielding numerous questions from citizens and city councilors alike.
Numerous people who asked questions were interested in the impact the detours would have upon traffic.
The first question was posed by District 3 City Councilor Adam C. Steiner, who lives on McAdams Road.
“You mentioned the detour that’s going to run through my neck of the woods at Livoli [Road] and Edmands [Road] which is already kind of a cut through for people trying to avoid that intersection and I’m just wondering how you’re going to mitigate people speeding through those residential neighborhoods, given the fact that the intersections. You know there’s going to be an official detour and then there’s going to be an unofficial detour even when it’s open if it’s slowed down,” said Councilor Steiner.
“Once that detour goes into effect. Myself, city officials, or as an engineer, we will be monitoring the traffic through there. We will keep an eye out for any increased speeds. We do have a few options or changes that we could do, we could use to deter speeds or slow speeds down. But we’d really like to see how the detour works, prior to installing anything that could slow down, emergency vehicles” Hayes answered.
“We’ll know before we start what the current speeds and traffic volumes are while we won’t be able to control the volume, given the detour, we can certainly actively monitor the speeds and see if, If, if they start to come up, there’s things we can do to mitigate that,” said Hayes.
In response to a later question on what solutions could be put in place Hayes said “the possible solutions to certain issues would certainly look at whether that be installation of a stop sign or additional police enforcement or possibly additional details which, would increase costs, but know that traffic will be impacted here and we will again do everything we can to mitigate the traffic issues.”
District 1 City Councilor Christine Long before asking her question, said “I just want to give a little more background information, and discuss discussing the intersection in connection with nod Scott Plaza redevelopment and the golf station, because those two projects are integral in getting these the funding for this infrastructure improvement and we’re contingent upon being approved as the former chair of the planning board.”
Long asked “the other thing is I know you mentioned that I know that the developers were all made to do underground utilities and sidewalk improvements on all the developments in the at the intersection however I’m kind of surprised that DPW, some of that funding doesn’t go towards underground utilities that are in the right away.”
Framingham DPW’s Chief Engineer William Sedewitz said “I know this topic has come up, respect to different projects. It’s not only very expensive, you know approximate costs for a million dollars per mile per utility which would have to be borne by the community. Also it can significantly extend the duration. The time it would take for those utilities to depress all their infrastructure could add easily, a year to two for that work.”
“We did look for some consideration in a different neighborhood for the project and there didn’t seem to be support for the additional costs that would be borne by the City so I think that’s the reason” said Sedewitz.
Framingham resident Donna Orthoefer was concerned about the impact increased traffic would have combined with traffic from the schools.
“My big concern with this is the cars going in and out of the Hemenway school at drop off and pick up. … I just want to make sure that we’ve considered details or traffic direction during those particular times, because I think it’s just going to create a nightmare. If we don’t consider when the school is in and drop off and pick up,” she said.
“We haven’t specifically spoken with the[ police] regarding that situation. But I think we can certainly have them keep traffic from, from stopping there during construction and have the parents pick up on me, on the other side of the school,” answered Hayes.
Responding to a later follow-up question by another audience member Hayes said “we will coordinate with the principal as well as the school transportation department to see what would facilitate the pickup best for them, as well as keeping it keeping the traffic moving through our
There was also some surprise among audience members about the elimination of previous aspects of the project like separate bike lanes or a right hand turn lane.
The “community was never told that that had been eliminated,” said McKenna, a long-time Nobscot resident.
With no more questions being asked around 7:10 pm, Sedewitz concluded the meeting and said “I just want to thank everybody. This was great participation. While you know in person meetings have some advantage, I think this remote [format] allowed more people to participate, which I think is
“If you think of questions later please reach out to us. We’re here to make this project go as smoothly as we can. We know it’s going to be trying. We ask for your patience. Please bring concerns to us and we’ll try to mitigate them to the greatest extent possible, but we certainly want your feedback, and we hope to come later next year you’ll be very satisfied with the outcome” said Sedewitz.
Talia Heisey is a 2021 spring intern for SOURCE. Heisey is a current sophomore at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in journalism and English. They has been a contributor to the Amherst Wire’s campus news section since 2019, focused on covering the impact of COVID upon the UMass community. They has previously participated in the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Journalism bootcamp program.