June 15 - Transportation Plan Shared with Residents
By Tara Hughes
June 14, 2023. Winchester Town Manager Beth Rudolph along with Town Engineer Matthew Shuman and representatives from Toole Design, Alexis Vidaurreta and Erica Guidoboni, held a virtual public meeting Wednesday evening to present the draft Transportation Plan to residents.
The presenters emphasized that the plan is a living document maintained by town staff that may be changed and amended over time, and a final version will be solidified by the end of the summer after the public comment period ends on June 28th. Some residents voiced concern over such a short comment period and requested more time. To provide public comment residents should go to bit.ly/wtp-feedback
The Transportation Plan acknowledges the priorities set forth in the town’s Master Plan. It was drafted using feedback from a resident survey, with nearly 500 residents responding. At the meeting, some residents voiced their concern that 500 responses is inadequate data and better public outreach needs to be done. The hosts emphasized the participation rate is quite good and they captured invaluable data. In addition, there was concern that the survey response age range was only between 35 and 54. However, resident Maureen Mansfield said she has a summary of issues from a roughly 20-member focus group held at the Jenks Center and was asked to email the summary to the town manager.
The plan provides priority lists (using safety as a higher weighted factor) for street design projects with categories based on responsible parties and cost to inform long term capital planning, including grant funding. It also provides supporting policies and programs.
Traffic projects were identified by using crash analysis, public input, past and ongoing traffic studies and input from town and consulting staff. In the draft, 100 projects are prioritized and 18 additional recommendations made. The highest priority, high cost projects being Main Street (from the Quill Rotary to Center Falls Dam) and the Quill Rotary and the lowest priority, low cost projects being Cross Street and the Cross Street and Forest Street intersection at the Tri-Community Greenway crossing.
While many residents applauded the effort as a first step and said they were happy with the data-based research, some questioned the timeline and ability to accomplish many of the projects and the town’s ability to fund. Others wanted fast and low cost solutions, emphasizing that a number of smaller fixes could improve traffic more than a by larger project.
To read the draft Transportation Plan go to https://www.winchester.us/DocumentCenter/View/10169/Winchester-Transportation-Plan_May-2023_with-appendices The recording of the public meeting will be posted on the town’s website when available.