Route 30 Reconstruction
The Route 30 corridor, from the Natick town line to the Newton town line, has not been updated since 2003. This is a heavily traveled road for commuters and is in need of sidewalks. The Traffic & Sidewalk Committee (T&SC) has recommended this roadway for a state TIP project, under the Complete Streets category.
The DPW and Traffic & Sidewalk Committee has been working with the Town’s engineering consultant to develop the 25% Design Plans that will ultimately be submitted to the state for TIP consideration. The team has been working closely with abutting neighbors, as well. The Select Board will need to sign off on the 25% plans before the project can be submitted to the state for consideration.
A summary of discussions between the team and the abutters will be submitted to MassDOT with the 25% plans. Following is a draft of the memo.
The Cross Section/ Shared Use Path vs. Buffered Bike Lanes
This topic is probably the most discussed topic that has come up during the numerous Traffic and Sidewalk Committee meetings and the Town's engineering team. While there are some stretches of road where a buffered bike lane could work, it cannot be expected for bicyclists to make several crossings on this busy corridor. This concern was also raised by several attendees of the Traffic and Sidewalk Committee meetings. It makes sense from a safety standpoint and the pavement markings associated with a buffered bike lane would not be in line with the character of Weston since it has a more urban look and feel. It is believed an off road Shared Use Path is the safest facility for bikes given the speeds and volumes on Route 30. It will also have the best chance to attract people that may be on the fence about cycling and will be more welcoming to recreational riders and families.
Additionally, the use of curb has been minimized wherever possible. There is minimal curb proposed on the side of the road with no Shared Use Path and on the side with the Path a curb has been added when the Path comes within 5-feet of the road. Grass buffers have been added where possible which will present an opportunity for plantings and also to use for drainage/stormwater recharge. There are a few instances where the Path is closer to the road to avoid impacting walls or trees.
Another highly-discussed topic is design of several intersections along the corridor. There has been a general positive consensus when it comes to the geometric improvements that will be made at all the intersections, aside for the inevitability of impacted trees. However, the more debated topic is traffic signals. A signal warrant analyses has been performed at all of the intersections along the corridor and those findings were discussed at several Traffic and Sidewalk Committee meetings. There are two intersections, Winter Street and Oak Street, where new traffic signals are being proposed. These two intersections in particular will benefit from a signal due to sight distance issues, traffic volumes, turning movements, as well as to provide a safe signalized crossing for pedestrians and bicyclists. While there have been some opposed to new signals, there have also been people speaking in favor of the signals. Safety is the biggest concern, and a signalized intersection will be a safer condition for all users.
A secondary concern of the intersections/signals was the snow/ice issue in “the cut." The current design depicts widening through that area. There will be ledge removal on the south side of route 30 to provide width for the shared use path and widening/ledge removal would be necessary for even a bike lane and sidewalk. It made sense to take another few feet to accommodate the full shared use path cross section through this area. More in-depth details of the ledge removal will come at 75% design. It is anticipated that some areas will have exposed ledge remaining and in other areas the ledge will be removed entirely, also a fence and landscape screening will be needed between Route 30 and the Mass Pike. New drainage and grading are also being proposed for this area. These will improve the ice conditions as stormwater will have new outlet to prevent water/ice build up.
Right of Way
The Right of Way plans depict the many easements that are required but a majority of them are temporary for grading/construction access. There are 39 permanent easements, but 23 are permanent utility easements for overhead wires as required by the utility companies. There are 16 permanent easements related to the Shared Use Path. These were minimized as much as possible but in some cases the path crossed over the layout line. Additionally, the MWRA property and school property have paths that meander away from the roadway more and therefore require permanent easements. There are two minor areas with takings where the new edge of pavement ends up crossing the layout line; however, those are either on Town or State property.
A corridor project this long will have a significant number of trees impacted. However, there is a discrepancy between the GPS-located trees and ground survey, so actual numbers are not accurate at this time.
The tree removals will be further investigated as the project moves to 75% design and there will be room to plant trees in the grass buffer, near the intersections where we are removing pavement, and any other locations that the Town wants.
Shared Use Paths were shifted so as to not impact existing walls along the corridor. There may be some walls that need to be rebuilt and there are various locations where new retaining walls have been proposed. These are shown in the plans and in many cases a wall is proposed in order to potentially save trees.
Similarly, there are several wetland crossings so walls are needed in order to extend headwalls and reduce impacts to wetlands in a widening section. These walls will be evaluated and designed in more detail at 75%.The plans also show cement stone masonry walls as well as pre-fab modular block walls. It depended on size and where the walls would be visible or not.
Additional areas needing walls include where the path meandered from the road. It needed to follow its own profile and be ADA compliant. These walls are shown in plan view on the construction plans and also on the cross sections.