A $7+ million road and streetscape improvement project in Franklin, MA will transform the downtown area later this year once warmer weather allows work to get underway. The upgrades will include new sidewalks, crosswalks, and traffic signals on several downtown streets. The biggest change will undoubtedly be the conversion of downtown sections of Main, West Central and Emmons Streets from one-way to two-way vehicular traffic.
The capital improvements and new traffic patterns aim to help restore the downtown area as a shopping and cultural hub accessible to and accommodating of shopping trips and pedestrians. The redesign will also improve response times to fires and other emergencies by the downtown Franklin Fire Headquarters which will no longer be hampered by the existing one-way traffic flow.
Existing one-way flow awkward and hard on downtown pedestrians and businesses
Having one-way vehicular flows dominate the downtown area had an unintended consequence of forcing cars traveling to and from I-495 to negotiate through the downtown. This created an awkward “rotary triangle” of fast moving through traffic constantly winding its way through the downtown business district.
Stops by shoppers were discouraged by all the through traffic and it was hard at times for pedestrians to simply cross the street. Not good for business!
Video of one-way traffic pattern in downtown Franklin
Here’s how the downtown “triangle” of one-way traffic flowed in the late summer of 2014:
The video shows how merges of through traffic dominate the downtown area. Cars stream through the downtown as they are funneled together and then change lanes to head to and from I-495. The merging and weaving of cars between lanes will be eliminated by the change over to two-way traffic – no one is likely to miss that aspect of the current one-way configuration!
Three intersections to see the most change
The restoration of two-way traffic to Main, West Central and Emmons Streets in the downtown area will necessitate significant reconfigurations of the intersections of each of those streets. The town has published alternative depictions of how each intersection may look. There appear to have been two versions of each intersection put online by Franklin. I am not sure whether any of the below depictions accurately show will be how each respective intersection will actually look when the work it done. (It does seem clear, however, that the town intends to retain the horse trough at the intersection of Main and West Central Streets.)
The two depictions of the intersection of Main and Emmons Streets look very similar; the main difference seems more in the proposed location of trees. You can learn more about the revitalization plans for downtown Franklin, Massachusetts here.
Downtown disruptions expected
Don’t be surprised to encounter a lot of equipment, construction workers and police details in downtown Franklin this year. Downtown traffic will often be snarled and there will be likely be considerable delays in driving through the downtown area. But when completed, the changes that will hopefully transform downtown Franklin into a better, safer place for shoppers and pedestrians should be worth the temporary inconveniences!
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