By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Mass. Dept. of Transportation (MassDOT) representatives were in Shrewsbury June 24 to hold informational meetings at Town Hall to update the public on the Route 20 Corridor Master Plan. They were joined by State Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) and Shrewsbury DPW Director Jeff Howland.
Two well-attended meetings were held back to back. The first pertained to the section of Route 20 from the Northborough town line to Centech Boulevard while the second focused on Centech Boulevard to the Worcester City Line.
“We’ve been working on this between the town and the consultants for a number of years now and I’m very glad to see a good turnout and we are looking forward to your comments,” Kane remarked.
She noted that this is meant to be a 20-year plan which will be a great tool to use when talking with developers about any potential traffic issues.
Joe Frawley, district three traffic operations engineer with MassDOT, kicked off the meetings supported by Paul Nelson, manager of transportation planning, and Bob Stathopoulos, traffic engineer from the consulting firm, Howard Stein Hudson. Nelson and Stathopoulos provided an overview of the Master Plan.
“The existing conditions in the corridor that we will be discussing are primarily safety issues looking at Stoney Hill Road at Route 20, and also the 140 Interchange and, in general, access management,” Nelson noted.
He explained that congestion in the area is of concern especially with developments that are being planned such as the UPS facility and Market Basket. Capacity is needed to support traffic growth due to private development. He also included wetland disturbance and pedestrian and bicycle accommodations as additional concerns.
Stathopoulos then gave an overview of existing safety concerns, primarily in the Lake Street, Grafton Street and Stoney Hill Road sections along Route 20.
He explained that they looked at how many crashes occurred per location per year. For instance: at Stoney Hill Road at eastbound Route 20 there have been 11 crashes with one fatality and 27 percent were angle crashes (lane departure or when a driver leaves their lane and collides with another vehicle or a roadside object). Similar statistics were cited for Stoney Hill Road at westbound Route 20 and at Grafton and Lake streets.
Contributing factors include high speed, insufficient gaps, crossing multiple lanes, no left turn lanes or signals and multiple access points along the highway.
The Master Plan proposal includes two travel lanes in each direction, traffic signal improvements, additional turning lanes at existing signalized intersections, pedestrian and bicyclist facilities and safety improvements at deficient locations.
Stathopoulos also detailed specific improvements at the major traffic intersections along the corridor.
There were several concerns raised by attendees of the meetings, particularly from the Purinton Street and the Stoney Hill Road areas regarding access safety and speed control. Clewes Street was also referenced as a concern.
Noor Ali, principal of Al-Hamra Academy, who attended the first meeting, was accompanied by several parents of students who were concerned about exiting South Street onto Route 20. She referenced an accident that occurred May 23 involving several students.
MassDOT will have a completed concept design and report by late fall of 2019. For more information, visit: https://shrewsburyma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/4967/Shrewsbury-Route-20-Safety–Operations–Improvements-Master-Plan-March-5-2019.