[Editor’s Note: I had the wrong version of the Traffic Study (Dec 1st not 4th) when I originally wrote the article below. My statement that much of the residential traffic would access Rt 9 via Park Central Drive was incorrect. The most recent traffic study has all egress for the residences via the access road to Park Central.]
Last week, the Zoning Board of Appeals was presented an updated traffic study for the proposed Park Central complex. It’s no surprise that neighbors continue to question projections of traffic and driving patterns.
The Town’s peer review of the study is planned for January 6th. ZBA Chair Leo Bartolini assured residents that submitted comments and questions would be considered by the consultant.
The study projects the impact of the proposed 40B condo facility and residential townhouse development, plus a hotel and Assisted Living Facility. The hotel’s traffic would be contained to Park Central Drive. The residents of other developments are shown as having access to both that road and an access road off of Flagg Road.
The large complex is expected to generate 3,200 trips in and out per day. And yet, residents are concerned that figures may include “incredibly soft” under-projections.
Computer models project fewer drivers for townhouses and condos than single residences. Neighbors argue that’s illogical. But engineers have consistently insisted that data differences from modeling databases have proven statistically sound.
Also at issue with some residents was an assumption that condo and townhouse drivers would make different commuting choices than their neighbors down the street.
Over 80% of residents exiting Blackthorne during the peak morning hour turn left towards downtown. But the study projects 85% of residents exiting the new complex would head towards Route 9.
Bantry Road resident Howard Rose argued:
This neighborhood has figured it out. Almost 80% of us go into town because of the access [to Route 9] and the challenges, or we’re going to the school or everything else that’s on that road. I think it’s a very bolden assumption to say that 85% of the people doing the exact same thing, in the same living conditions that we are, are going to go the other way.
Engineer Kevin Dandrade defended the assumptions and modeling, partly based on the access road being closer to Route 9.
Engineers did make some recommendations for safety. That included installing a three way stop at Blackthorne and Flagg to handle site line issues caused by an historic stone wall.
But residents believed more needs to be done given the major increase in density for the area. Jon Green and Rose both stressed to the board that the Town needs to manage the safety issues that they believe will be caused by increasing traffic on Flagg Road.
Rose pointed out the study’s exclusion of information on cyclists and pedestrians, including kids walking to the two schools on the road with no sidewalk. His concern about school children was echoed by neighbor Madjid Yazdani who worried that 10-11 year olds walking to school may not make the safest choices.
Bartolini raised a relevant issue apparently discussed at last week’s Planning Board meeting. He recommended that the ZBA seek advice on how to handle commercial vehicles parking on narrow Flagg Road.
The Chair wondered if they should look into options for prohibiting commercial parking on the street (e.g., no-commercial-parking signs). Member David Eagle expressed concern about causing problems for package delivery trucks and cable/Verizon trucks working on lines.
Bartolini got board approval to issue a letter to police and fire chiefs plus the state highway department asking for their recommendation on handling the issue.
Repeating his own request from past meetings, Rose also called for an updated traffic count from the three year old figures:
That model and the growth data were based on an assumption of growth for the area. . .
This town has the unique opportunity to check our data now. And we should take advantage of that and see what’s really going on for growth and what’s going on on these streets.
Dandrade stated that he expects the Peer Review to again support their study as reasonably prepared. Rebutting Rose’s request, he said that nothing has changed that warrants a new count.
To read the full study, click here.
Updated (12/17/15 8:47 pm): I made changes to correct statements based on wrong version of the study. (Read Editor’s Note at top of post.)