Welcome to the Stow Planning Department blog!
Follow us for up to date information and announcements on developments, planning initiatives and various opportunities to shape the future of Stow.
At a recent meeting of the Selectmen, the Transportation Working Group provided a presentation on efforts to identify traffic data sources in Town and begin to organize and collect that data for future transportation improvements. Made up of public safety officials, and staff from Town Departments, the working group has created a process for sharing data across Departments that can then be used by hired consultants or the Town to make more meaningful assessments of traffic and safety conditions throughout Town. The presentation to the Selectmen from February 28th, outlines some of those efforts and highlights the further application of the data.
Of the next steps listed in the presentation, is the creation of a Complete Streets Prioritization Plan. Residents will be reviewing a capital item at the upcoming May Town Meeting regarding the funding for and completion of the plan, which will utilize a combination of traffic data and public input to assess priority locations for pedestrian, bike and traffic safety improvements. As an added bonus, the funding required for the creation of the plan is completely reimbursable by the state. A table from a similar Complete Streets plan completed in another Massachusetts Town can be seen in the presentation.
For more information on Complete Streets, take a look at MassDOT’s program page for Complete Streets. Once a community creates a Complete Streets Prioritization Plan, they enter into Tier 3 of the Program and are eligible for up to $400,000 annually to implement identified improvements. For more information on the types of projects that have been funded, explore Tier 3 Construction Awards at the above link. Communities as close as Littleton, have been awarded funds to make improvements to their road network. As you think about what improvements could be proposed here in Stow, keep in mind that Stow’s Complete Streets Policy requires a careful balance of safety improvements, environmental considerations and historic community character. So what may be proposed in one Town may not have the same look and feel here in Stow.
Still bearing the imprint of 1947, the Gleasondale Bridge will soon be in the midst of a redesign after 70 years. MassDOT recently hired CLD Consulting Engineers to work with their in-house bridge redesign staff. To date, the focus is still on preliminary work, such as obtaining pavement core samples from the bridge approaches. Howard/Stein-Hudson (HSH) Associates, a traffic planning and engineering firm out of Boston, has been hired to assist in the public input and engagement process once the process kicks off. HSH is the same firm that the Planning Board hired to build off of MassDOT’s right of way survey in Gleasondale, which is currently underway. They are also the same firm that is finalizing our traffic safety improvements in Lower Village. It should be a great fit to continue working with a team that knows Stow well.
The Gleasondale Bridge is listed on the Transportation Improvement Program schedule for potential 2020 replacement. This design process will allow the community to make sure that all of the important planning that Gleasondale residents have been leading will be heard and integrated to the best extent feasible. With traffic concerns, pedestrian safety and connectivity issues, and a mill tying it all together, there will be plenty to discuss at upcoming public meetings. We’ll be sure to work alongside HSH to communicate our local efforts and to see that Gleasondale residents are well represented. As soon as we have more updates we’ll be posting them here.
If there are any other questions about where the project is and where it may be going, don’t hesitate to call the Planning Department office. If we cannot answer your question, we can try to find someone who will. 978-897-5098.
The Gleasondale Working Group has been working with Planning staff to determine potential upgrades to the School Lot. Participants at last fall’s Design Forum identified potential design and use of the space, including improved parking areas, historic or educational signage, seating, and upgraded streetscape options.
The Gleasondale Working Group will meet on Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at 7pm at Town Building to discuss a draft of the School Lot Improvement Plan. Join us to provide your input!
As we mentioned earlier this summer, the Stow Planning Department has submitted an application for the 2016 MassWorks Infrastructure Grant Program, continuing to advance the community’s efforts to improve our main business district. The MassWorks Program funds municipal projects that support economic development, transportation improvements, and mixed-use development. Our application this year is stronger than ever, highlighting our Community Compact with Governor Baker Administration, our finalized traffic improvement design plans, and our recent acceptance of a Complete Streets Policy. The grant will allow Stow to move forward with our shovel-ready Complete Streets designed traffic improvements.
The Complete Streets design for Lower Village is derived from years of public input. The illustrations below, designed by Howard Stein Hudson (HSH), show how sidewalks, bike lanes, pedestrian islands, and turn lanes work together to create a more defined traffic pattern. Not only do the plans increase safety by providing a balance between road users, but the improvements utilize well placed turning lanes and raised medians to create gaps in peak hour traffic that will make it easier to make turns into and out of local businesses. To learn more about Howard Stein-Hudson, and their design process for the Lower Village final design, check out this past post.
The image below helps further visualize what these plans illustrate from a street- level perspective.
Stow finds company in Complete Streets goals. Our neighbors in Maynard adopted a Complete Streets policy, and installed temporary features as part of a pilot project last month. The pilot helped residents and visitors visualize the scope of improvements with the addition of traffic interventions, altered curb cuts, bike lanes, and even a parklet. If you visited downtown Maynard during this time, fill out a survey to let them know your thoughts!
Through the years of planning for improvements to the Lower Village corridor, we’ve heard an evolving vision of what is most important to Stow residents: pedestrian safety, reduced congestion, bicycle lanes, accessibility to businesses – balancing improvements with the Town’s rural character. Updates to Rt. 117 are part of the larger picture of improving the safety, convenience and curb appeal for Lower Village. The Planning Department will continue to focus energy on a developing partnership for water infrastructure upgrades, and we’ll be building on zoning and design guideline efforts to complete the community’s visioning.
Check back here in the weeks to come or stop by the Planning Department to look at the plans and get updates on our progress!
What are you most excited to see?
Survey On The Way
The Planning Department is in the process of contracting with Howard/Stein-Hudson Inc. to begin a survey of the public right of way in Gleasondale. All aspects of the roadway, including utilities and property bounds will be located on the survey plans to allow the community to better plan options for future improvements. The Planning Department also just received word that the approaches to the Route 62 bridge will also be surveyed by the DOT’s contractor in the coming weeks. Between the two , the Town will have a full updated survey for the bulk of the Gleasondale corridor!
Kane Land Survey
Boundaries of the Town owned parcel known as the “Kane Land” have been surveyed and the Planning Department is awaiting submission of the final plans. This survey should provide much needed clarification regarding the feasibility of future activities on the land.
Community Transportation Technical Assistance Grant
The Planning Department recently was awarded a grant to study the Hudson Road/Route 117 intersection, in light of the Gleasondale Bridge partial closure. Traffic counts were taken along Hudson Road, Route 117, as well as Gleasondale Road in Gleasondale Village. Prior to the bridge closure, Gleasondale Road saw 6062 vehicles per day. Today that number is down to 5000 per day. The big question is where 1000 vehicles every day have rerouted to? Traffic consultants with the Boston Metro Planning Organization, which funded the study, believe many are now using Hudson Road. Results of the study are currently being updated and will be available here later this summer.