No one familiar with the roadway would be surprised to learn that federal and state officials are concerned about the ability to sustain the traffic levels of the main Massachusetts thoroughfare. Federal money is funding a comprehensive study by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and private consultants of the regional corridor with an eye toward future improvement, both small and major.
Nothing seems to be off the table for consideration, from the addition of mass transit to re-engineering. Current design and congestion raise the risk of high speed motor vehicle accidents involving cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles.
In particular, poorly designed intersections on interstate exit ramps cause traffic backups all the way onto the highway, causing all-too-frequent rear-end collisions by approaching vehicles whose drivers do not anticipate the need to suddenly stop.
The study is looking at areas of I-495 and Route 9 in Southborough and Westborough, including the interchange with the Massachusetts Turnpike.
Some of the design and systemic changes under consideration are:
- Additional lanes, both for driving and turning
- Flyover ramps
- Semi-truck access roads
- Ramp realignments and expansions
- Curve straightening
- New signage
- Intersection redesigns
- New bridges
- Bus lanes
Currently nonexistent in the area, public transportation is being closely considered following an unsuccessful bus-route attempt about 10 years ago. However, some see future commuters as more open to the idea of using mass transportation.
All stakeholders – business owners, the transportation industry, government officials, commuters, environmentalists and safety advocates – await the release of the final I-495 and Route 495 Interchange Improvement Study later this year.
Source: Worcester Telegram & Gazette, “Long road to fixing Rt. 9, I-495 gridlock,” Donna Boynton, March 28, 2012