A public meeting will be held at Town Hall next Tuesday evening to solicit real-world feedback before test driving a series of proposed changes aimed at improving traffic flow in the downtown area.
The changes under consideration are based on a study commissioned by selectmen which documented peak traffic volumes routinely overburdening the downtown roadway network and creating lengthy backups on primary roads feeding the Common rotary — especially during the morning and afternoon commutes.
The worst of these are situated on Main Street, where vehicles waiting to enter rotary traffic occasionally back up as far as the Dairy Queen. The entrances from Mechanic and Central streets are also described as problematic.
Undertaken by the Pare Corporation, a Rhode Island-based engineering firm with offices in Foxboro, this study suggests that traffic conditions will continue to worsen organically — even without additional development in the downtown area.
Residential projects already approved for Wall Street and envisioned the corner of South and Market streets, as well as redevelopment of the former fire station/Keating Funeral Home parcel, would presumably accelerate that trend.
Steps recommended in the study include making Rockhill Street one-way (entering the Common only) while installing traffic “splitter” islands within the rotary road surface itself.
Officials are hoping these islands will force approaching vehicles into a left-hand inside lane for through-traffic continuing around the Common, and a right-hand outside lane for vehicles exiting on one of the seven feeder roads — smoothing the merge into the rotary and easing backups.
Three of these islands are currently proposed, with locations on the curve between South and Central streets (opposite Memorial Hall), between the approaches to Cocasset and Mechanic streets, and at the head of Main Street.
Town Planner Paige Duncan this week said more detailed plans for the proposed changes will be available at next Tuesday’s meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the first-floor meeting room at Town Hall.
Duncan also said local officials hope to vet the proposed changes during a temporary trial run later in the fall.
Both the trial, which has not yet been scheduled, as well as any permanent changes, will have to pass muster with the board of selectmen, who function as the town’s road commissioners.
It is expected that any traffic improvements will be coordinated with a related campaign to reinforce directional awareness in the town center by introducing new street signage.
This would involve ratcheting back the number of existing street signs in favor of more straightforward, distinctive and informative visuals directing motorists and pedestrians to public parking areas, municipal buildings and other public amenities.