There are state controls on restrictions like that. In the cases I know of there had to be viable alternative routes, even when it involved local roads. In this case you are talking about a state numbered route. Any prohibition on truck traffic woulds be a real long shot. Again, the central problem is that Central Square is a significant cross roads with little or no reasonable alternatives. Traffic between Worcester and the Turnpike and Shrewsbury and points South on 140 can only really get there by going past the Common on 140.
And yes, 122/140 is what really needs to be dealt with. View Comment
I think a dominant element of the context in this case is to maintain the Common and Central Square as it is, Adding traffic lights with lines of cars backed up generating concentrated pollution waiting at them is not good in that sense.
As to Graves, my information was that they were told not to consider the counterclockwise option by "someone". My understanding was that they were told to propose this traffic light solution and so that is what they brought back. Since the meetings on this have not been publicized and not carried on cable it is hard to know what the real story is.
In any case, was there an estimate given for the cost? Any idea where that might come from, or how long it might take to get it, as well as permission from the state to put in those lights. They recently denied that permission at another intersection not far from these. It has always been a major effort to get permission for each of the intersections that have been signalized.
Might it not be higher priority to spend that money on what has to be done on Worcester Street between Lake Ripple and Snow Road? The Common is a would-be-nice-to-do. That section of Worcester Street is a MUST-DO the road is already over its capacity and will continue getting even worse (but it lacks the political will to get it done within oh say the next decade - it takes many years to move road projects like this from conception to completion) View Comment
What I have heard from traffic engineers is that "rotaries" are not good. They went out of fashion in traffic engineering quite a while ago. But in more recent times they have come back to being in favor of "roundabouts" when they are appropriate. The difference, as far as I can tell is in the size and the design details like how traffic flows in and out. In front of Union Station in Worcester is an example of modern roundabout design and it flows pretty well. A lot better than what was there before I think.
In this case it is neither a rotary nor a roundabout. The Common is much larger than those. It is counterclockwise flow around a park.
The problem is the southbound lane from Worcester Street to Upton Street, and the eastbound section in front of Two Grafton Common. Those are where the traffic flows clockwise and results in those crossing and left turn conflicts with everything else that is OK going counterclockwise.
As to faster or slower, etc., give the engineer's a chance to look at it seriously and tell us what the result would be. I know we all fancy ourselves as traffic engineers, but the fact is the people with the training and qualifications really do know a lot more than we do, and have the tools to really evaluate options and report on what will in fact be the result of different designs. View Comment
The Westboro "rotary" is, and always has been a disaster. But it may be the best that can be done there given the constraints. Central Square/Common has A LOT more land to work with.
My suggestion could, quite likely, provide for more, and better, and safer parking. It DOES have to be looked at to see though.
Nothing we do to the roads around the Common is going to change the amount of traffic very much one way or another. The people who need to go through there still need to. I think there are very few people going different ways to avoid the Common now who would be attracted to go through it with better flow based on any of the schemes. Traffic can be expected to continue to increase because traffic throughout the region is increasing and nothing we can do will change that very much.
The key issue is that Central Square/Common is a major cross roads in the area and there are really very few if any alternatives. All the traffic HAS to go through it.
I think as far as pedestrian traffic goes, a good design along the lines being discussed, with proper crosswalks that are as short as possible, will serve at least as well as what we have now. I think the present crosswalks are not all configured ideally, and they tend to be too long in some cases making them difficult to use safely.
Again, just give outside the box a little bit of a chance. The current design appears to flow from preconceived ideas of the only solution to consider. View Comment
Traffic backs up when two flows cross, or there are left turns. In a "roundabout" design there are no cross flows and no left turns - no traffic lights, no stop signs, no one waits. Traffic flows continuously and smoothly.
It is true that the existing constraints around central square would make it a challenge to design a workable roundabout layout, but it is close enough to being viable to look at it seriously. Unless the option is fully explored we pass up the best option to preserve the Common as we know it, without traffic lights, and get the best long term solution of the flow issues.
I just say give it a full look - engineers should look seriously at how it could be made to work, and compare the result against the alternatives. The engineers can model how the flows would work in each design, how long the delays would be at all the intersections, and so on. View Comment
A good question. I have asked it a number of times. The answer seems to be it is too big a bite for people to give a serious look ANC the effort to required to make it work.
It would make traffic flow much better, better than what this story outlines, while eliminating the need to bring traffic lights into the Common. View Comment
On the other hand perhaps the judge agrees that there has been enough back and forth about the irrelevant question of who said and did what and when, and he would like to move on to testimony on the actual issues that will inform his decision.
Has the railroad's case been stronger than the Town's so far? I think I have only seen that the G&U has claimed they have preemption, and the Town has said they don't know that to be true yet based on the information they have been able to obtain. Note the reported testimony to the effect the Town asked for the relevant information so it could determine if the claim was correct for this particular set of circumstances and facts, and the G&U did not provide it. Prior cases have gone either way depending on the specifics. It seems likely the same will be true in this case.
"say hypothetically that this guy didn't own the railroad going through town, just owned the land, and wanted to build this facility...is he abiding by the proper rules and regulations required by the state"
No. Without Federal preemption of state controls, and local controls established under state law that facility would be prohibited in that particular location.
Under the state zoning laws the Town has zoned the area as residential and a propane transfer business is not allowed in Grafton's residential zoning districts, period. The Town has also placed the area in the Water Supply Protection Overlay District which subjects it to additional restrictions and requirements.
Grafton does not have use variances or other ways around those zoning restrictions. The only way anyone other than the railroad could set up that business at that location would be to get Town Meeting to amend the zoning to allow it there.
If anyone other than a railroad, under Federal preemption, could avoid local zoning and other controls simply by complying with state rules for construction and operation of a use it would make zoning meaningless.
Did they mention if they would connect through to Worcester? I thought it was not going to.
I believe the assesments can only be applied to services from an agency like the WRTA. The towns can't get that money back in-hand to spend themselves. It is a pretty involved situation.
When I asked last week about this I believe it was too early to tell if there would be any stops in Grafton, other than the possibility at the train station. But the route there could go by some likely users who could benefit. Also, Stop and Shop in Grafton might provide a chance for a bit of park and ride.
Local zoning is a primary focus of the Federal preemption. Washington says the national rail transportation system is more important than local priorities. They say if local control was allowed railroads would have issues like this anywhere they tried to locate.
Really, in the end it comes down to just how far the pre-emotions reach. View Comment
I wonder if the GDV has verified the attachment to the article is the current permit. As noted above the 11/19/12 report from Erics Flagcars is different in the last part from the route in the 12/13/12 Permits Engineer's review, and both differ from what I recall having been reported here recently.
It should be interesting to see that part with backing 1.2 miles down 122 from Wyman-Gordon to Quinsigamond corner - interesting way to handle the turn there.
But also the MassDOT permit seems to say it only applies to routes designated as State Highway. Most likely 122, 140, and 30 fit that, but does the end of the route on Westboro Road (as well as East Street and Institute Road if they are still in the picture)? If not what review and control apply on those roads?
I think the BoH needs to take a lesson from some other projects and do a FAR better job of explaining in detail exactly what the money would buy and how it would work.
We hear about spraying. OK, that sounds good to some. But many would be better able to decide if they knew how much spraying, who would decide who gets it, and when. How do they decide? How much real effect, positive or negative would anyone actually see from it?
On those other aspects of the program that were alluded to but not fleshed out: what exactly are they? How much is done? By whom? How much of it could be done in-house?
And how about lists of towns that are in the program and not in it, with feedback about actual observed results? View Comment
AL, the ZBL, its interpretation, application, and enforcement are not simple. What you or I may think is not necessarily the correct bottom line or what we get in the end. Some of it is complex interactions and provisions, and some of it is what the law says vs. how it is enforced in practice.
The best, and really the only way to get close to definitive answers on specific points is to direct specific questions to Town Council and the ZEO tonight at Town Meeting. They are the ones who can speak to the law, its interpretation, and its enforcement.
The best way for the voters to look at the proposals is in terms of what it would change from the current situation. That cuts through all those variables and complexities and gets to what people really want to know to decide how to vote. For example the rules about window signs will still be the same as they are now, and whatever is currently done with them will continue to be done. Likewise for each point.
Have you actually looked at the final map for the new zone? It was modified in response to the comments at public meetings and hearings and better reflects the area the folks down there would like to see changed. No one at the public hearing on the article objected to any aspect of the map as it is now drawn. Are there any changes you asked for at meetings or hearings or by written comments that are not reflected in the proposal as it is going before Town Meeting tonight?
A very important point about your desire to limit the zone to just properties on 122 and 122A. The Farnumsville Mill is on Depot Street and so would be excluded. It has been recognized during the development of this proposal that it opens up an important opportunity to rehabilitate the mill into a major positive for the area and the Town. The folks who came to the outreach meetings, and the input to the public hearing indicated that was a very beneficial and important consideration in favor of the article as the zone and the provisions are presently laid out.
The proposed mixed use zone in South Grafton is largely in an area where we currently have local business zoning. Most of the provisions of the new zone are the same as for it. Without drilling down in detail I am pretty sure you will find the sign issues will be the same as they are under the present zone - basically little or no change.
Generally under the current ZBL lighted signs do have a curfew. That is a town-wide rule that applies everywhere in all zones which allow internally illuminated signs. But note that I do not know of a case where that provision has ever been enforced, and I do not know if anyone has ever made a complaint about it that would trigger enforcement. As your question reflects there seems to be hardly anyone who even knows it exists.
Generally the answers to all your questions is that the proposed zone is intended to be the same as what we have there now and just makes the changes needed to allow mixed uses like allowing living units above businesses, and to a degree adjusting the parking requirements to better fit the situations in area. So, the rules about most of your questions are that they are the same as what is there now.
The last time I looked into it the Town did not have a bylaw to regulate noise. I believe the police may have some ability to deal with noise, and there might be some sort of controls at the state level. But I don't think we have anything that is based on a specific provision in a Town bylaw, and that too is town-wide.
By the way, on the lighted sign curfew: the current law says something like they must be turned off no later than a half hour after the business closes. But it does not speak to when they can be turned on. The proposed warrant article for signs cleans up that detail as well as several others. View Comment