By Grace Mayer
FRAMINGHAM – Construction designs which plan to improve pedestrian safety through crosswalks, sidewalks, and updated traffic signals at Nobscot intersection were revisited at a virtual meeting held by the Framingham Traffic Commission last Thursday.
The 2-year-long project, a $5.9 million dollar renovation undertaken by Baltazar Contractors Inc and the City of Framingham, will expand traffic lanes, create crosswalks, update traffic signals, and add road markings that indicate to drivers they’re sharing the road with bikers.
But at the meeting Thursday night, June 10, Framingham residents continued to raise concerns about the project, which is confined between Edgell Road, Water Street, and Edmands Road, specifically related to bikers’ safety, the lack of sidewalks, and a right-turn lane, and that the recently built CVS doesn’t include a MinuteClinic.
Before addressing questions from the public, City of Framingham project manager Matt Hayes presented the latest timeline for the intersection’s construction which began in March.
Currently, workers are installing foundations for new traffic signals with sensors, making repairs to the culvert water tunnel, and adding street lighting. The foundations for the updated traffic signals and work on widening the traffic lanes are expected to be installed by fall.
Nobscot resident and mayoral candidate Rick McKenna raised a question about the lack of a right-turn lane from Edgell Road onto Water Street—a concern which several residents echoed.
Project manager Hayes said there won’t be a northbound right-turn lane from Edgell Road onto Water Street, a topic that was raised at the initial Nobscot meeting held in March.
Several residents said that a lack of communication failed to convey this update, as the right-turn lane was initially proposed as part of preliminary designs back in 2016 before the current project was approved.
In 2016, the inclusion of a right-hand turn lane “was looked at as something that could be incorporated,” said Framingham DPW Director Blake Lukis. “And through the design process, it was determined that it would not be advantageous and the intersection, the way it is going to be constructed, met all of the design requirements and the goals set forth for the intersection.”
These goals Lukis referred to include the Nobscot intersections plans to increase pedestrian safety, reduce stand-still traffic, improve vehicle turns, and update traffic signals.
Lukis further explained why this right turn lane couldn’t be incorporated into the design, citing a memo that the City of Framingham released.
Lukis said that if the right turn lane was added in the design, the queue length of cars stemming from this lane would block driveways, increase the crossing distance for pedestrians, and only improve the intersection during peak traffic flow hours—including rush hours in the morning and evening.
“All of those things combined come together to show that the additional right-hand turn lane on the northbound side of Edgell Road wasn’t something that was advantageous for the intersection,” Lukis said.
Framingham At-Large City Councilor Janet Leombruno raised concerns about the new CVS’s lack of a Minute Clinic—which several other residents echoed.
To get an update on the CVS’s potential plans for a minute clinic, which isn’t a part of the intersection’s designs, Framingham Department of Public Works Director Lukis said the Framingham Planning Board is responsible for the CVS location plans.
Nobscot resident Kathy Vassar who said she frequently rides her bike within this area, asked about the plans for improving bikers’ safety along this intersection.
Hayes said that this construction project won’t create bike lanes, as the “the impacts of right-of-way requirements to install the bike lanes weren’t really available.”
Instead, sharrows, road markings that indicate to drivers that they’re sharing the road with bikers, will be added in the final stages of the construction process.
While temporary sidewalks have been put in place during construction, Mayoral candidate and former Framingham City Councilor Charlie Sisitsky asked about where the new sidewalks will be located at the intersections.
Hayes said there will be sidewalks created on both sides of the Edgell Road, Water Street, and Edmands Road located at the intersection and stationed a substantial distance from the intersection, ensuring pedestrians’ safety.
By spring and summer 2022, curbs, sidewalks, traffic signals, and street lights will be complete. The project is still expected to be completed by fall 2022.
Although the project will create detours during spring 2022, pedestrian access will be maintained through temporary sidewalks. There will also be a traffic detour through the CVS parking lot.
Grace Mayer is a senior at Boston College studying marketing and journalism. She is also the head arts editor for Boston College’s newspaper, The Heights, where she’s covered the arts beat for three years. She is excited to report on a variety of beats for Framingham SOURCE this summer. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The full June 10 meeting is available for viewing on YouTube