Archive 2008 - 2019

Latest Draft of Washington Street Redesign Presented to Selectmen

by Eric Niermeyer

Most of Wednesday night’s Board of Selectmen meeting was devoted to a presentation by McMahon, the company contracted to survey and redesign Holliston’s Washington Street corridor.  McMahon is a few weeks away from finalizing its preliminary proposal for the downtown overhaul and expects to have their final plan completed by this January.

The facelift, approved by referendum this past May, will see several changes made to the area of Route 16 between the First Congregational Church and Santander Bank.  Construction is set to begin in 2017 and will likely take several months.

The broad contours of the draft presented on Wednesday were unchanged from what voters approved in the spring – the installation traffic lights at the intersections of Washington and Hollis Street, Washington and Central Street, and Washington and Exchange Street, along with changes in parking, crosswalks, lane width, and other factors.

The overarching goal of the redesign is to make the area easier to traverse during heavily trafficked hours by using synchronized lights and comprehensive lane design and signage to make traffic flow in a more controlled and efficient manner.  

The Selectmen, other members of town government, attending town residents, and yours truly took the opportunity to question McMahon’s representatives on the finer points of their preliminary design.  Topics of discussion included the ability of emergency vehicles to navigate the new area, the prospect of nearby neighborhoods being used as cut-throughs by frustrated commuters, and the safety of pedestrians.

Kevin Conley, the Vice-Chairman of the Board, was particularly concerned about the proposed crosswalk across Washington between Green Street and Exchange Street.  Instead of crossing at the corners of the two streets, the crosswalk is slated to be set back slightly further along route 16, running between the front of the banks and the Mobil gas station.  This, Conley suggested, might present a hazard to pedestrians who are walking to Goodwill Park.

The redesign process is ongoing, and further progress reports will be presented at Board of Selectmen Meetings prior to the plan’s finalization.  Holliston residents who wish to ask questions or voice concerns are encouraged to attend.

The other major issue discussed on Wednesday was the recent passage of a state law which will allow localities to reduce speed limits in areas where it is declared to be a matter of public safety.  The law, which will come into effect this November, will give the Selectmen the authority to reduce speed limits to as low as 20 mph. in certain areas.

Police Chief Moore, in a discussion with the Selectmen, suggested that a criterion be established to decide which areas of Holliston might be eligible for a speed reduction under the new law.  Suggested criteria included how thickly settled an area is, whether it is a business district, the area’s citation and accident history, the number of children present in the area, the physical characteristics of the roadway in question, and the volume of traffic present.

Ultimately, it was agreed that the Board of Selectmen and the Holliston Police Department should work together to establish an objective criteria similar to the one detailed above in order to prevent the unnecessary altering of speed limits and ensure that the new law is being applied as intended.  The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will also release suggested guidelines related to the law in October.

In more routine news, bidding on 30 cubicles located at 1750 Washington Street will take place on Friday at 10am, while bidding for the metal of the disused lockers at the Flagg School will take place at 11am the same day. It was also noted that the Senior Center will host its annual Fall Fair on Saturday the 10th, and that both Farms Day and a ceremony by American Legion Post 47 will take place on Sunday the 11th.  Celebrate Holliston is, of course, scheduled for Saturday the 17th.


Comments (6)

Tricia, I hope that your son has made a full recovery. Please remember that at Town Meeting everyone, including town officials, gets one vote. So when you are able to attend your vote will carry the same weight as each official. Neither you nor any other resident should feel that you have no say in the way that the town is run. If you ever want to discuss financial matters please feel free contacting me.

Michelle Zeamer | 2016-09-12 20:48:05

Hi Michelle. I was not at the meeting when this plan was approved. My husband had to work late that day, and my son Jake was sick so I had to contend with that. I can only wish for the time to be more involved in town politics. Had Jake not been violently ill I would have been there voicing my concerns about this project. Though even if I had, there would have been little effect on the decision. I feel as though our town meetings are unilateral and have become void of discussion and debate. Now it seems like it is just a public forum for our towns officials to push their plans for the town onto the taxpayers without much room for dissent. I hope this changes, and I look forward to seeing you at future town meetings where we can discuss the issues that matter to all Hollistonians. -Tricia B.

Tricia Bartels | 2016-09-12 15:52:35

Hello down town Framingham.

Jeff snow | 2016-09-11 08:00:28

Tricia, the residents who showed up at Town Meeting and approved the plan and those that approved borrowing money for the plan (a debt exclusion "override") did not think that this was a waste of time and money.

Michelle Zeamer | 2016-09-11 03:31:22

I respectfully disagree with Tricia. Sure, 10 years ago it was safe for our children to ride bikes downtown, but the world is a different place. Cell phone-related accidents are up almost 20% in the past year alone. Anecdotally, I see many drivers barely looking at the road as they scroll through Facebook and Bumble. Children playing downtown are now at a much greater risk of being struck by a vehicle. We need to implement traffic control systems to mitigate these risks, and to allow our emergency vehicles to pass through in times of crisis. I think the new plan is a great idea, and I hope our selectmen can approve and implement these changes soon. It is only a matter of time until the streets of downtown Holliston run red with the blood of innocent pedestrians.

Debbie Cohen | 2016-09-10 10:06:24

Forgive me if this is an obtuse question, but why are we wasting all this time and money on this area? Is this just the fallout of the accident last year or have there been other problems? For what it's worth, I've lived in Holliston for 18 years, and I feel comfortable letting my kids roller blade and skateboard down that section of Washington Street. I don't see a problem, and I wish my tax dollars would go towards something more meaningful.

Tricia Bartels | 2016-09-09 19:13:31