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Hingham ‘road diet’ plan could be curbed

The implementation of a temporary pilot lane reduction program along the Summer/Rockland Street stretch — called a “road diet” — initially proposed for summer 2017 will likely be delayed. The project is subject to state approval.

The implementation of a temporary pilot lane reduction program along the Summer/Rockland Street stretch — called a “road diet” — initially proposed for summer 2017 will likely be delayed. The project is subject to state approval.

The current Fore River Bridge lane reduction program is one reason. “Similar types of roadway reductions are planned as part of that project, which could potentially impact the data we would hope to see from the proposed Rte. 3A pilot program,” Town Administrator Ted Alexiades said. “It doesn’t make sense to reduce lanes on both ends of Rte. 3A at the same time. Consequently, consideration of moving the time-frame for the proposed ‘road diet’ to the early summer of 2018 is being discussed.”

This approach would reduce the roadway from four lanes to one vehicle lane in each direction along Summer Street from the Hingham Rotary to the intersection of George Washington Boulevard (Muzzi’s Corner).

The fact that the towns of Cohasset and Hull have serious concerns about the lane-reduction program is another issue.

Cohasset Selectman Steve Gaumer predicted that reducing the number of lanes would tie up the Rte. 3A evening commute all the way back to the Hingham Shipyard. Other concerns include potential gridlock on roadways that might serve as alternate routes.

In a letter to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation copied to the Hingham and Cohasset selectmen, Hull Selectmen Chairman Kevin Richardson noted that Nantasket Beach attracts roughly 250,000 visitors each summer. “We are concerned that the ramifications of the proposed test have not been adequately contemplated nor has the test taken into consideration Hull’s concerns.

“Another concern is that traffic congestion will be relocated from the 3A Rotary to George Washington Boulevard and into the Town of Hull,” he further stated. “Especially concerning is the potential increased response time for emergency vehicles to reach area hospitals. In addition, George Washington Boulevard is Hull’s main emergency and only practical evacuation route. The studies to date are silent as to how this system would address [those issues].”

Alexiades said Hingham is “very sensitive to Cohasset’s and Hull’s concerns, and we’re working with both towns [to address those issues,].”

On the other side of the issue, Hingham resident Eileen McIntyre, who lives on Martin’s Lane off Summer Street, said she is “eager to get the four- to six-week lane reduction pilot scheduled.”

Looking back

As a step toward advancing the proposed redesign of the Rte. 3A corridor to enhance safety, the selectmen recently voted to request that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation implement such a measure.

The results would be studied for a prospective future corridor design, which could include a permanent lane reduction if approved in the final plans.

As background, the state Central Transportation Staff earlier completed a comprehensive study of the corridor starting at the bathing beach parking lot to the Town of Hull. A resulting recommendation was the consideration of such a “road diet.”

The harbor development committee hosted a public presentation of conceptual plans for the Summer/Rockland Street stretch and details about the proposed pilot test on April 5.

Before any such pilot program could begin, there would be opportunities for public comment.

Task force

Due to the many facets of the proposed Rte. 3A project, Alexiades recommended to the selectmen the creation of a task force “to coordinate town activities on this matter with town staff.”

He noted that MassDOT requires state road projects to include evacuation plans and the resolution of issues related to emergency vehicle access among other considerations.

One of the main reasons behind the proposed ‘road diet,” Alexiades said, “is the speeding issue along that stretch. There have been some serious accidents [in this area] resulting in injuries and in some cases death.”

The Rte. 3A improvement proposal was spurred by an earlier Town Meeting vote to allocate up to $400,000 to begin the development of plans for roadway improvements along the corridor with the hopes that the state would see the need for major safety enhancements. If approved, the state would foot most of the bill.

You can follow Carol Britton Meyer on Twitter @ CMeyerJournal.


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