During the course of any project, it is normal that certain questions will be asked more than once. While we welcome your questions, comments, concerns and suggestions, here are some of the most commonly asked questions related to the West Chatham Roadway Design Project and their answers. If after you have read through our FAQ page, you still have questions, please feel free to contact our public involvement specialist. As the project goes on, we will continue to add information to this page. FAQ's are presented as question and answer pairs. This FAQ page was most recently updated in January of 2014.

Q: Was the concept articulated in the Town's July 2011 Project Initiation Form (PIF) set in stone?

A: Definitely not. While there was an intensive planning process that culminated in the submittal of the PIF, the proposed design elements outlined in the PIF represent a starting point for the design effort, not the end. The Town and its project team expected that changes to the PIF concept would occur based on data collected to inform the design process. This was a normal part of the design phase of any project and happens all across the Commonwealth on a regular basis. Indeed, based on the data collected to gain an understanding of Route 28 in West Chatham, Howard/Stein-Hudson developed a concept design significantly different from what was outlined in the PIF.

Q: Since traffic in Chatham is heavily seasonal, when were traffic counts taken? Were traffic counts taken when volumes are at their heaviest?

A: The Town and its project team understand the seasonality of traffic in Chatham and coordinated with the Cape Cod Commission and MassDOT District 5 regarding the most appropriate times to collect traffic data. Based on this coordination, detailed data collection was conducted during good weather at the end of June, 2013 while school was still in session. As part of this effort, the project team conducted observations, traffic counts, sight distance evaluations, and speed data collection through the section of Route 28 between George Ryder Road and Barnhill Road, including all driveways. This data was augmented by additional observations conducted during the summer and fall and compared with historical count data to provide a very strong empirical picture of traffic operations in the corridor. With regard to taking counts at the highest possible peak of traffic, the industry standard in traffic engineering is not to take counts at such times to avoid overbuilding. For example, counts for a highway would not be taken on the day before Thanksgiving since that would lead to putting down far more pavement than is required for day-to-day operation.

Q: What does the design concept recommended to the Town by Howard/Stein-Hudson include?

A: The design concept would convert the intersections of Route 28/George Ryder Road and Route 28/Barnhill Road into modern, single lane roundabouts. The two-way left turning lane, sometimes called "the TWTL" would be removed and the profile of Route 28 narrowed to two lanes with adequate shoulders on either side. New and/or improved bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure would also be added to Route 28 in West Chatham as part of the changes to the roadway in alignment with MassDOT complete streets principles. This graphic provides an image of the design concept as of January, 2014.

Q: How are left turns going to be accommodated under the design concept?

A: Detailed field observations by HSH indicate that the existing TWTL is not warranted and provides motorists with little time savings along the corridor. Under the current design concept, motorists would be able to make a left-turn directly from the travel lane. Through the inclusion of adequate shoulders that meet current design specifications through traffic would be able to safely pass a left turning vehicle in a controlled manner at low speed. The concept design also includes the advantage of motorists being able to select avoiding left turns altogether by using one of the two roundabouts at either end of the study area to reverse direction and make their turn as a right.

Q: Isn't the two-way left turn lane needed to avoid traffic congestion in West Chatham?

A: No. Extensive traffic data collection by the Town's consultant has shown that for the space it takes up on Route 28, the two-way left turn lane conveys minor traffic benefits and encourages dangerous driving including lane encroachments by drivers taking right turns and through traffic using the TWTL as a high speed passing lane. It also lengthens the crossing distance for pedestrians and exposes them to the potential of "courtesy crashes." For more information about this, see the November 12, 2013 and December 17, 2013 presentations to the Board of Selectmen.

Q: Rotaries are dangerous and the Commonwealth is trying to get rid of them. Why are they being proposed for Route 28 in West Chatham?

A: There is a substantial difference between a rotary and the proposed roundabouts. The concept design includes single lane modern roundabouts which have been proven effective at keeping traffic moving both calmly and efficiently while providing substantial safety benefits to pedestrians as compared to traditional intersections. Howard/Stein-Hudson has identified successful roundabout installations, including dual roundabouts closer together than those proposed for West Chatham in Norfolk and Amhearst. To see some of these dual roundabouts, please see this exerpt from our November 12, 2013 presentation to the Board of Selectmen. For more information about the benefits of roundabouts please see this video from the Federal Highway Administration. For information about how roundabouts are more appropriate for West Chatham than signals, please see the November 12, 2013 and December 17, 2013 presentations to the Board of Selectmen.

Q: Route 28 in West Chatham doesn't have an elevated (high) crash rate and most people obey the speed limit. Why are we making these changes?

A: While the crash rate on Route 28 is not elevated, the current configuration lends itself to potentially severe crashes. Crashes along the corridor in recent years have resulted in a fatality, personal injuries and one involving a struck cyclist. Both the public involvement process and observations by Howard/Stein-Hudson have given us strong indications that Route 28 in West Chatham is a roadway of frequent near misses and that entering the mainline from George Ryder Road, George Ryder Road South and Barnhill Road is difficult which can contribute to aggressive driving behavior and poor decision-making. While most motorists do obey the speed limit, a small cohort is speeding and the current configuration of the roadway invites them to do through a wide cross-section and super-elevated curves. The current configuration is also substantially deficient from a pedestrian and bicycle perspective and represents a hazard to these users.

Q: Could a minimalist approach, a new sidewalk and some trees, still receive MassDOT funding?

A: Any changes to the roadway beyond a simple resurfacing, such as adding a sidewalk, would require that the project meet MassDOT complete streets guidelines to be eligible for funding and approval by the agency. Simply adding a new sidewalk and improving the landscaping along Route 28 would not meet complete streets guidelines that call for improved on-street bicycle conditions. Such minimal changes would also fail to address the current design deficiencies of the roadway.

Q: I've made it clear that I am opposed to changes in West Chatham. Why hasn't the project been stopped?

A: A detailed evaluation by transportation professionals has shown that there are design deficiencies on Route 28 in West Chatham that need to be addressed. The Board of Selectmen agreed and are working to progress the design to address the issues identified.

Q: The concept design includes some property takings. Can these be minimized or eliminated?

A: The Town and project team are sensitive to the issue of right-of-way acquisitions associated with this project. Since the concept design was presented to the Board of Selectmen on November 12, 2013 the Town and its consultants have met with potentially impacted abutters and through this process, HSH has already begun reducing the level of right-of-way acquisition required. A few important points to note:

Q: I'm concerned about local businesses along Route 28 in West Chatham. How can we ensure that they survive a second construction project?

A: During the April, 2013 office hours, we heard from almost every participant that the local businesses on Route 28 are valued, should thrive, and should be part of West Chatham's long-term future. Neither the Town nor its consultant team wants to see local businesses harmed. As we go into the 25% design process, we will focus on lessons learned from the sewer installation project and construction management techniques that could be implemented to phase the work and keep businesses accessible (i.e. Route 28 open for travel). The Town and its consultant team are committed to working with local business owners on construction period issues during the design process and throughout the duration of construction. For more information about the construction period, see the December 17, 2013 presentation to the Board of Selectmen.

Q: Where is the West Chatham Roadway Design Project in terms of funding?

A: The PIF, submitted in July of 2011, served to initiate the funding process for the project through MassDOT and the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in which Chatham is located. The MPO for Chatham is the Cape Cod Commission. At present, the West Chatham Roadway Design Project is programmed on the Commonwealth's transportation improvement program (TIP) for grant funding of construction in 2016. The projected construction cost is $3,442,000 paid for by the Commonwealth. More information about project funding can be found on the Cape Cod Commission website.

Q: Are you coordinating the West Chatham Roadway Design Project with the broader Route 28 Corridor Visioning Exercise?

A: Definitely. While they are separate and distinct projects, a road design addressing 1,200 feet versus a study concerning land use for a 4-mile corridor, the two efforts do have significant planning overlap. Both projects regularly share information and when public information meetings are scheduled, they are coordinated so that interested community members do not have to choose between which meeting they want to attend. For more information on the Visioning Exercise, please visit the CCC's Project Page.

 

 

 

 

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