Comment on the 495/90 interchange project (and other points impacted by the junction)

by beth on October 3, 2017

Post image for Comment on the 495/90 interchange project (and other points impacted by the junction)

Above: The state is acknowledging that any work on the exits of 495 and Mass Pike impacts the area where Route 9 meets 495, right over Southborough’s border. (images from Google Maps that clearly weren’t taken during rush hour!)

The state is seeking public comment on needed improvements for the Route 495 and MassPike Interchange. The Mass Department of Transportation is reaching out to Southborough because of our proximity.

As stated on the MassDOT website dedicated to the issue, traffic congestion at I-495/I-90 has clear impacts the interchange of Route 9/495. The public is also invited to share issues from beyond the project borders that “stem from the conditions at I-495/I-90”.

MassDOT has been looking at needed improvements at the interchanges just beyond our Town borders for years. That may be partly in response to area chambers of commerce long pushing for improved traffic flow for commuters.

Over the past couple of years, the Rte 9 interchange has also become part of heated discussions in town between Flagg Road area residents and Town and state officials.

The crux of that issue is plans for housing developments at Park Central.

Park Central drive exits onto Route 9 Westbound immediately prior to the exit for 495 North. The state agency determined that allowing a large housing development to access Route 9 at that spot is too dangerous. Instead, the state has indicated egress should be on the other side of the property, via Flagg Road.

Flagg Road already has its own issues. Among them is the fact that its Route 9 West access is in a busy area right before Cumberland Farms, which borders Park Central Drive. (In other words, just a stone’s throw from the road that MassDOT says is a treacherous egress point.)

Neighborhood residents are also concerned that traffic there will push drivers to head to Route 30 instead. That path is via the narrow, windy, tree lined roads of Flagg and Deerfoot.

Over the past year, selectmen have supported residents by pushing back on the state recommendations. Last fall, the board informed MassDOT that they won’t allow egress from Park Central onto Flagg unless the developer and state come up with a safe plan.

Library display 495 and 90 interchange (from Facebook)Now, the Southborough Library is hosting a large informational display by MassDOT for patrons to view. It encourages residents to learn more about the I-495/I-90 interchange and share their feedback on improvements. The Library explained on Facebook:

The library is hosting some information for the Interchange 495/90 MassDOT Improvements project. A project map and information sheets are available outside the Eaton Meeting Room at the library, but more information can be found at their website here: https://www.massdot.state.ma.us/highway/highlightedprojects/i-495i-90interchangeimprovements.aspx

Following the link, and drilling further down, I found text encouraging residents who aren’t directly impacted by the project within the defined borders to weigh in on the ways they are impacted farther out: 

image cropped from MassDOT's interactive project map for the I-90/495 Interchange project

(click to enlarge)

The blue line around the interchange [on the interactive map] represents the project’s limits of work, though not the limits of its thinking or traffic modeling. For instance, we know already from prior public engagement that traffic congestion at I-495/I-90 impacts the interchange of Route 9/495.

If there are problems you experience beyond the project’s limits of work which you believe stem from the conditions at I-495/I-90, we invite you to “Add a Point” at its location and let us know how this issue is related to I-495/I-90 through your comment.

So, whether you’re a commuter angered over traffic jams, an employer frustrated about employee access issues, or a resident worried about future traffic impacts on your road, you should take the time to share your concerns with MassDOT.

Of course, some of you may feel like, “Been there. Done that.” Looking back, the state has been collecting feedback on transportation issues in the area for years

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 louise barron October 3, 2017 at 2:59 PM

Beth, the timing on this inquiry doesn’t quite pass the sniff test. What is the origin of this article?

Did MA-DOT ask you to solicit this input from residents (particularly on the hot topic of Flagg Road, a developer attempting to take over this road as a main entrance)?

Or did this originate with the Town (and Town Officials) which is currently being sued (unwillingly and as a last resort) by the taxpayer / residents who will be most impacted by Park Central? The permits were granted by a ZBA that had melted down to a three-person, no quorum(??!) board – with one member moving out of town the next day – and all done under the wing of this BOS!!

Remember, we are talking about at least a few BOS members who were completely unaware that a yellow stripe was just recently painted down Flagg Road (talk about lack of transparency!) – as were some of the DPW workers themselves (with the exception of the DPW head). Why would the town use its own DPW to paint the stripe when it can hire some other unknown outside contractor — as the result of a “safety study” done by the same guy who did traffic studies for the developer. Go figure.

The issue of Flagg Road and Route 9, as it relates to Park Central, is the developer’s problem, not the residents or the taxpayers. It is not the taxpayers’ problem that the developer purchased a landlocked site and can’t get permission yet from MA-DOT to dump his thousands of traffic trips onto Route 9.

So that begs the basic question: How is dumping those trips onto narrow, winding, State designated scenic protected roadway, Flagg Road (with two school zones) any safer? It isn’t.

The 495 / 90 Interchange backs up dangerously onto 495 at peak hours as we speak, even without the tolls. Adding more traffic trips? That is what zoning is supposed to protect against – unmitigated congestion and interchange failure.

As for combining the Park Central issue with 495/90 project comments – these are two different matters.

The Park Central / Flagg Road problem is irremediable and is not the residents’ problem. The residents should stay anchored in that fact. The town has directed the proponent back to the State (see link)

http://www.mysouthborough.com/2016/10/05/selectmen-no-park-central-access-to-flagg-road-unless-developerstate-come-up-with-a-plan-to-solve-accessegress-issues/

Also, MA-DOT knows well what all the issues are with this area – having posted numerous studies on their own website (see following link)

http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/Portals/17/docs/495/Rte9FinalCoverTitleVI_TOC.pdf

and MA-DOT attended the Flagg Road Safety Forum in September 2016 at the Senior Center. Roughly 150 residents were there to voice their serious concerns on existing safety issues, never mind adding this crazy over-the-top number of traffic trips. MA-DOT was there – they have the feedback already.

Don’t take the bait Flagg Road area residents. Provide your feedback directly to MA-DOT on 495/90 interchange to: Jonathan Gulliver, Director of Highway District 3, MA-DOT, 403 Belmont Street, Worcester, MA 01604 Tel no: (508) 929-3800

Reply

2 beth October 3, 2017 at 3:12 PM

No one solicited this. And your issue with it isn’t making sense to me. (Frankly, your sniffer seems out of joint here.)

I know that people are concerned about Flagg Road. Did you perhaps notice that I dedicated an entire section of the story to that?

I saw that MassDOT is seeking feedback on the interchange – and acknowledging that changes there impact rte 9. I thought that residents who are concerned about road issues in the area would likely want to provide feedback about making sure that anything done improves, rather than worsens, their situation.

That doesn’t mean that they would give up on whatever other means they are using to oppose Park Central.

What exactly do you mean by “don’t take the bait”. The bait to do what? Or not do what?

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3 Sobo Resident October 5, 2017 at 7:27 AM

Thank you Beth for keeping us informed on the ability to provide feedback on items like this. It’s unfortunate that some people in town can’t take this for what it is, keeping us informed.

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4 Todd Miller October 3, 2017 at 7:55 PM

I read the story a little differently and thought it was meant as an informative and helpful piece. I do also agree with Louise about the extreme danger this development poses and encourage residents to speak out to the board of selectmen and join efforts to keep our neighborhoods safe and free of thousands of additional cars flooded onto our streets. Every day I see young children walking to and from school and added traffic on Flagg is a recipe for a severe disaster.

I contacted BOS Chair Dan Kolenda (dkolenda@southboroughma.com) and Town Administrator Mark Purple (mpurple@southboroughma.com) on Sept 16. In my correspondence, I requested an agenda item to cover Flagg Rd safety and updates on Park Central.

On September 19th Dan responded that he intended to put it on a future agenda in October and added the Department of Public Works (DPW) to the thread indicating they would be able to provide additional information when the meeting was scheduled. I was also assured that Flagg Rd. issues would be discussed in the context of Park Central.

On October 1st, upon reviewing the Oct 3rd agenda and not seeing anything related to Park Central or Flagg Rd safety, I inquired again regarding pending dates. Dan responded and has deferred to Mark Purple to ensure DPW is able to attend.

I urge residence to keep an eye out for updates. Agendas are seemingly posted with very little lead time so it’s important that we all stay informed and share information.

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5 SD October 4, 2017 at 11:18 AM

Todd thank you for the update. I would encourage anyone that has any meeting dates on this issue to also post a message on next door and any other social outlet so we are aware and there to air our concerns. In the past, meetings have been posted with short notice to residents. I’m sure this was an effort to get things done without any opposing voices.

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6 Chris October 4, 2017 at 1:06 PM

Thank you Louise. Mass Highway has ranked Park Central Dr as a Level of Service (LOS) F years ago. The developer was then going to dump all the traffic on Bantry. With developer promising traffic would not be dumped onto Flagg. A group from Bantry successfully stops developer from using Bantry so developer drops his promise. When Flatley owned the property, he couldn’t make it work. So he sold it to the Southborough Good Ol’ Boy machine. Which is why we are in this mess today.

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7 Rob October 4, 2017 at 2:52 PM

Why does the yellow line stop before the culvert at the end of Flagg Rd.? It clearly can’t handle two way traffic. Neither can the road handle a school bus plus another car without crossing over the yellow line. Which I thought was illegal. This whole thing with using Flagg is ridiculous and negligent at best. When someone eventually gets injured, can the town and us as taxpayers be held liable for allowing this to happen?

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8 North Sider October 5, 2017 at 11:15 AM

I’ve nearly lost my side view mirror on Flagg to a mailbox many times, and that was on the “wide” areas. Total disaster if we flood traffic onto Flagg.

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