ZBA, Consultants and Developer Agree: Intersection of Route 27 and West Street is an Issue
The Board of Appeals for Zoning, town traffic consultants, and developers for The Parc at Medfield, a 96-unit affordable housing development 1,000 feet from the intersection of Route 27 and West Street, agree that there are currently traffic issues in tha
The Board of Zoning Appeals for Zoning (ZBA) met again this week with representatives from Gatehouse Group LLC which proposes a 96 unit affordable housing complex near the intersection of Route 27 and West Street where traffic is a major concern.
The board, and members of the audience who attended Monday’s meeting, were concerned that the proposed development would add approximately 638 more vehicle trips to an already busy West Street and intersection (West and Route 27).
Police Chief Robert Meaney Jr. did not have accident statistics with him at the meeting but said the intersection has been a problem for many years.
“I can’t tell you [the number of accidents] but we tend to have rather dramatic crashes up there, there’s no two ways about it,” he said.
“The thing I do know about [Route] 27 and West [Street] is that, when we have a crash, they tend to be fairly spectacular,” Meaney said, noting that there have been several injuries and some fatalities at that intersection. “The crashes are up there because it’s coming off, Ibelieve, one of the highest speeds of a secondary road in Massachusetts. You can go 55 mph on Route 27 after Hospital Road up until where the intersection is; and then, yes, you’re supposed to drop to 45 mph while you’re going down a hill…but you have to really be thinking hard to make sure you do that.”
Meaney said that, because the intersection “is so wide open and so clear, someone will go right through a red light and just slam into the other car.”
Douglas Prentiss, a traffic consultant hired by the town to help with the Gatehouse project, said his review of Gatehouse documents show that “the project does meet all safety criteria” but said he had a concern with speeding, pedestrians, and side street egress.
He said West Street has a marked speed of 35 mph but the speeds he collected were between 45 and 47 mph.
“People are not behaving the way they should,” Prentiss said. “Coming from Route 27 [on West Street], it’s more like a highway-type thing. It’s very wide, it’s 40 feet edge to edge -- and if you go to the [Charles] River to Millis, it’s 27 feet – so just the road itself just lends people to go a little faster.”
ZBA Chairman Robert Sylvia said, “We need to do something to slow those culprits down. The driveway [for the proposed 40B project] does have some excellent site distance but there’s still going to be a lot of cars coming out of there wanting to turn, especially in the morning.”
Prentiss suggested the lanes be restriped to discourage speeding. Meaney said he will be restriping town roads next month.
Prentiss said that Bridge Street and Marsh Drive do not have stop lines where they meet West Street.
“We’re recommending that maybe the proponent participate in some sort of mechanism to get some stop lines and stop lines at those two locations,” Prentiss said.
He also said there are no sidewalks in the area and recommended that one be installed along the corridor.
“I should point out there are zero pedestrian accommodations so if you try to get across there, there’s no way to do it. There are no push buttons, no crosswalks; right now, you don’t have a lot of pedestrian activity,” he said.
Sylvia expressed concern about pedestrian safety, including schoolchildren waiting for the bus, and suggested Gatehouse install a sidewalk at least along the property’s West Street frontage.
“It’s dangerous when there are no sidewalks,” he said.
Gatehouse's traffic engineer Giles Ham said he ‘had an issue with the sidewalk’ along only the Gatehouse property because, when the sidewalk ends, it “puts people walking into the roadway.”
Ham noted that there is no sidewalk along the street now but that “we will consider all the recommendations” discussed at the meeting.
“In summary…we meet the safety guidelines. It’s safe out there. Our proposal is safe,” Ham said, suggesting that traffic enforcement would address the issue.
The next hearing is scheduled for July 23. The ZBA will conduct a site visit (date to be determined) prior to that meeting.