The town announced Thursday that in response to concerns about a stretch of the recently reconfigured Main Street being too narrow to allow for emergency vehicles to pass through traffic, the road will be widened.
The portion of Main Street affected runs from Commonwealth Avenue to Mayhew Street and from Summer Street to the Fire Station.
“In September, the town began having internal discussions regarding these stretches of the roadway,” reads a press release from Town Manager Norman Khumalo. “Concerns were that, as currently constructed, these sections of the road may be too narrow for certain public safety vehicles, particularly fire engines, to easily navigate the road in the event of an emergency if other vehicles were pulled over on both sides of the road.
“The construction plans call for the narrowest portion of these stretches to be 28 feet in width from curb to curb, which is a common size for roadways in Massachusetts. Other portions of the road are 33 feet in width.
“To determine if updates were necessary, project engineers, MassDOT [the Massachusetts Department of Transportation], and town officials simulated various scenarios with different vehicles pulled over on opposite sides of the road to see if a fire engine could pass through. The results of the tests were:
“A fire engine could pass through if two smaller vehicles were pulled over parallel to the curb and if a smaller vehicle and a larger vehicle were pulled over parallel to the curb.
“A fire engine could not pass through if two larger trucks were pulled over parallel to the curb or if vehicles of varying sizes did not pull over fully parallel to the curb (i.e. the vehicles were sticking out a bit into the road).
“After conducting these tests and to ensure that public safety vehicles are provided as much space as possible to move through the area, the town and MassDOT are working to widen portions of the road to the fullest extent without infringing on private property.”
Work will begin to widen the south side of the road this Saturday from Center Trail to Pleasant Street by up to two feet, the town stated, and from Summer Street to the Fire Station by up to a foot.
The town continues to evaluate the possibility of widening the north side, with an announcement to come at a later date.
“The Main Street Corridor Project is ongoing and will not reach completion for another year. We want to address any and all potential concerns before the project is over and it is too late to be changed,” Town Engineer Dave Daltorio said. “We thank all residents, visitors and employees of Hopkinton for their continued patience as we work toward completing this project.”
The press release notes that the updates will not affect the presence of the planned sidewalks and bicycle lanes. The town is working with MassDOT to determine the expense for the updates, but it is anticipated to fall within the overall project budget. Additionally, the town is installing emergency preemptive systems at two sets of lights along the corridor, designed to clear traffic for first responders in the event of emergency calls.
“We believe that making these changes will accommodate all users of the roadway, especially our public safety vehicles, while simultaneously improving overall safety for all Hopkinton residents and visitors,” Khumalo said. “I want to express my thanks to all community members for their patience and understanding as we finish up this project and make these changes.”
Glad this was done now rather than later but seems like very poor planning on the part of the engineering firm (VHB), and DOT, who one presumes knows what road widths work. Not sure the town should foot the bill for this change, as we relied on the professionals (VHB and DOT) for guidance on widths.
Still time to correct the design, but who pays the cost?? The town subdivision standards require a “Traveled Way Pavement Width” of 30 ft. in “Non-Residential” areas – not 28 ft. That could have been a reminder to the designers if their engineering wisdom was not enough. And where was the state DOT in their review??
Yes, plenty of excuses. But why so late into the project to discover the problems? The previous commentator questions the town’s (the “town” are we the tax payers by the way) responsibility to pay the additional amount. I certainly think not! Let those whose errors or omissions caused any additional expense accept personal responsibility pay up!
Honestly HOW did this error happen in the first place? There should be no additional tax burden to the citizens of Hopkinton. This just adds to the pains this construction project has caused. How many gas lines did they hit? 3 or was it 4?
I am biting my tongue; this project is one level of incompetence after another.
How does 28′ work when our dump trucks carry 12′ plows and a wing plow that causes it to stick out further and with 2 passing plow trucks taking up 24’+ allow a firetruck to pass? And that’s if there is no snow on the sides of the road. Who is doing the math?