There are certain givens when it comes to the Westborough rotary: confused out-of-town drivers, and a passing truck. But a new proposal may take one of those constants away.
At its March 27 meeting, the Board of Selectmen voted to send a letter to Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Secretary Richard Davey in support of allowing trucks from Harvey’s to access the Mass Pike from Route 135 near the Hopkinton border. Allowing the access will significantly reduce the number of trucks going through the downtown areas of both Westborough and Hopkinton, explained.
The idea is not new, but it has gained momentum in light of a recent focus on congestion at the Routes 495/90/9 interchanges. MassDOT recently commissioned a project team to examine remedies for the increased traffic.
“They find that in the next 20 years, gridlock will occur at Route 495 south and Route 9 east in the morning and, in the evening, on Route 495 south again,” said Town Planner Jim Robbins.
At a public meeting in Westborough on March 27, MassDOT consultants projected up to a 20 percent increase of traffic on Route 495 and up to a 10 percent increase in traffic on Route 9 over the next two decades. For that reason, a number of proposals are being considered to alleviate the pressure. These include possibly widening off ramps and adding extra lanes.
Both Malloy and Robbins support the idea to allow trucks from Harvey’s to use gated access roads onto the Mass Pike that are currently only used by emergency personnel. One road leads into the Westborough Service Plaza and would allow the trucks to enter the Mass Pike westbound. The other leads directly onto the Mass Pike eastbound. Both are on the Westborough-Hopkinton border and next to the Harvey’s facility. It was suggested that the move would take a large number of Harvey's trucks out of the Routes 495/90/9 congestion.
The issue, Robbins said, is that it would be allowing public access for a private company. The access roads are owned by the state.
Granting permission would require legislation. The selectmen learned that the next step was to send a letter of support to Davey.
“I think this makes sense to proceed in this fashion,” said Selectman Tim Dodd.
The motion was passed unanimously.