Residents weigh in on proposed improvements to Route 20

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Residents weigh in on proposed improvements to Route 20
A rendering showing the proposed roundabouts on Route 20. (Photo/MassDOT)

SHREWSBURY – Changes may be coming to Route 20.

On May 23, representatives from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) held a virtual public hearing regarding the Route 20 Corridor Improvement Project, focusing on a one-mile stretch of road between Green Street and Valente Drive. The meeting, which drew 20-plus town residents, marked MassDOT’s first public hearing on the project since 2022.

The project is in the 25% design stage, meaning public feedback is still being accepted. The plan is estimated to cost roughly $30 million, with 80% of the funds coming from federal aid and the remaining 20% coming from MassDOT.

This segment of Route 20 is known by community members to be particularly dangerous.

The existing roadway — three lanes of traffic near Green Street that turns into four lanes near Dunkin’ — has several high-crash locations, particularly near Walnut Street and Valente Drive. MassDOT identified the stretch as having sub-standard shoulder widths, a lack of turn lanes and no bike or pedestrian accommodations.

Route 20 would undergo significant changes under the new plan, including two roundabouts. The first roundabout — located on Route 20 between Lumber Liquidators and 864 Hartford Turnpike — would have two lanes and include crosswalks. The second two-lane roundabout would be further up the road, connecting Olde Shrewsbury Village and Valente Drive in one large intersection. That roundabout would also feature crosswalks.

Aside from the roundabouts, Route 20 would be significantly reshaped.

The road would now have two lanes traveling both ways, with selected left-hand turn lanes to certain connector roads. At the South-Green-Route 20 intersection, westbound Route 20 would expand to four lanes, with a right-hand-turn-only lane, and a left-hand-turn-only lane. Those traveling south on South Street onto Route 20 would have access to a dedicated left-hand-turn lane.

Side roads would also be majorly impacted.

Most businesses and roads off Route 20 — including Sunbelt Rentals, Commons Drive and Walnut Street (both northbound and southbound) — would only be allowed to take right-hand turns. Vehicles would use the roundabouts to turn around and head the other direction.

MassDOT officials said the plans would reduce accidents significantly by reducing speeds on Route 20 and better designing how — and at what speed— cars enter the roadway. The plans call for more pedestrian-minded infrastructure, including a shared-use path and sidewalks along Route 20. A crosswalk spanning Route 20 would be protected by a pedestrian hybrid beacon (PHB). The slower speeds on the road would help pedestrians feel safer, MassDOT said.

The project impacts less than 5,000 square feet of bordering vegetation, and the department would do everything it could to limit traffic congestion during periods of construction, the officials said.

Residents asked about several aspects of the project during the public participation section of the presentation, including the feasibility of including sidewalks along Route 20, the hill near Olde Shrewsbury Village that limits visibility turning onto Hartford Turnpike and how the potential Green-South connector road associated with the 300-unit Emerald Run development would impact the project.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to have this public hearing tonight,” Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury), who has championed the project, said at the meeting. “I’m very interested in hearing what the feedback is from residents at the meeting tonight, and certainly hope people will take time to submit their feedback.”

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