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WVN Newsletter #166: Who's right about traffic impact?

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  • waylandvoters1
    Dear Wayland Voter, Developer Frank Dougherty and newly-elected Planning Board member Dan Mesnick wrote last week in the Wayland Town Crier about the traffic
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2006
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      Dear Wayland Voter,

      Developer Frank Dougherty and newly-elected Planning Board
      member Dan Mesnick wrote last week in the Wayland Town
      Crier about the traffic impact of the town center proposal. Both
      argued against the recent study by independent traffic consultant
      Kevin Dandrade, who predicted a tenfold increase in car trips at
      certain hours and Saturdays as busy as weekday commutes.

      Below you'll find an analysis of those arguments from Dawn
      Davies, a 16-year Wayland resident who opposes the project.

      First, please note the plans to deal with the possibility of a record
      crowd when the special Town Meeting convenes at 7:30 p.m.
      Wednesday to consider zoning for the 372,000-square-foot


      Selectmen say they're prepared for more than 2,000 people.
      When the 382 High School parking spaces are taken (25
      reserved for the handicapped), voters will be directed to satellite
      lots at the Middle School, St. Ann's Church and the Town
      Building. (Not Sandy Burr Country Club as in the past.) Six
      school buses will shuttle voters to and from the Field House.
      Doors open at 6 p.m. TM begins promptly at 7:30.

      Town officials have done little to spread the word. A notice
      appeared on the town website only late Monday morning. Please
      be sure friends and neighbors are aware.


      In recent letters, columns and advertising about the proposed
      MUOD (mixed-use zoning) bylaw it has been stated that the
      zoning comes with mitigation moneys and the alternative 40B
      all-housing development without. That is not true.

      "Local 40B Review and Decision Guidelines," Mass Housing
      Partnership, November 2005, states on Page 6: "A ZBA (zoning
      board) may enact its own rules for hiring peer review
      consultants." The developer is required to pay for these
      consultants. A 40B developer is still on the hook for mitigation of
      traffic problems found--or any other problems found that require
      mitigation. This commercial project, by the way, is 17 times the
      size of Mel's Plaza.

      The way you preserve a road's Level of Service in the face of
      increased volume is to increase a roadway's capacity and add
      stop lights. To widen our most problematic intersection, Route
      20/27-126, the developer would cut into the historic district -
      diminishing what some see as a picture-perfect part of New
      England, which has persisted since Longfellow's time. Would
      widening take part of the First Parish lawn? What about the
      wetlands across the street which have already been a problem
      for the Public Safety Building?

      To reduce the wait time for his patrons, the developer proposes
      to add two\ new stop lights at the development entrances, to
      enable his traffic to enter and leave - making others wait. On
      Saturday, if you live near Glezen Road and need to visit the
      landfill or Russell's you will have to pass through three to four
      stop lights, two of which will require a wait to get through. It will
      take you at an estimated minimum 6-8 minutes longer than now.

      We would live through building these mitigations, and the
      concurrent environmental issues. The only other way to increase
      road capacity is to increase speed, which could compromise
      safety and hinder pedestrians. Each drive through the center
      would now involve two to four stop lights.

      Some say the critical question is "how will the traffic flow?" For
      residents the important question is "What is my experience of
      traffic in Wayland center going to be?"

      The problem is, as independent consultant Kevin Dandrade
      pointed out, traffic through the center of town will never be
      perfect. The center of town is in a flood plain, and comprises
      buildings 200+ years old (which is why it is so charming!).
      Developer Frank Dougherty asks "Who can afford to pay to fix the
      existing problems?" Residents may ask, "Who wants to create
      more problems?" In this view, residents tolerate our current
      level of service because we cherish what we have.

      But there is another reason as well. You may have noticed that
      many attractive town centers throughout New England are not
      the fastest road to traverse. Town officials choose not to widen
      them because of the saturation effect. As water seeks its own
      level, roads tend to fill to the level at which it starts to become
      difficult to drive them. Some ask, Why give up your scenic center
      to get a little better throughput which would rapidly deteriorate to
      the old conditions of stop and start?

      With mitigation, one opens the floodgates to new drivers
      perceiving an easier route and new drivers coming to the large
      shopping center. Then we could be left with long backups, but a
      less attractive town center to sit in while backed up. Ultimately,
      even with every mitigation possible in place, this will still be what
      traffic engineers call a failed intersection.

      Dandrade was not given the benefit of seeing the report from
      independent fiscal consultant Judi Barrett, which spelled out
      where the traffic would need to come from. Barrett says
      shoppers will have to come from a radius of at least 4.5 miles to
      support the commercial development. For comparison, that is
      one-third of the way to Boston.

      Side streets will suffer as well. As Dandrade's study makes
      clear, his firm was not allowed to study those impacts, including
      the projected length of the queue of cars waiting at an
      intersection. Why is this important? Because long queues are
      strong motivators of diversion, and such diversion can occur at
      substantial distances from the intersection. Many savvy drivers
      already cut through Happy Hollow to Old Connecticut Path to
      Stonebridge to Landham to go to the landfill on Saturdays. When
      the arteries become clogged, traffic will divert, and that traffic is
      already delayed.

      It does not take much to get backed up enough to divert.
      Eighty-eight cars can back up Route 27 from town center to Five
      Paths. Rice Road could attract cut-through traffic.

      Experienced traffic engineers we've spoken with say that Route
      20 ultimately needs to be four lanes wide from the Sudbury River
      to Weston. For now it is unclear whether the selectmen
      negotiated an easement to make any widening possible. Would
      the town encounter costs by taking land through eminent

      Another long-range complication is that the Route 20 bridge over
      the Sudbury River is to be replaced shortly and is designed to
      serve a two-lane road.
      Thank you for reading this WVN newsletter. Please forward it to
      your friends and neighbors in Wayland. If they want to receive
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      they will be signed up for the listserv. Or, they can sign
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      after receiving an e-mail confirming the subscription.

      Wayland Voters Network
      Michael Short, Editor
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