The Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission released a report last week titled Route 9 Development and Traffic Analysis which looked at both current and future traffic on Route 9 in the towns of Shrewsbury, Northborough and Westborough. Not surprisingly, the report said many intersections were already over capacity and traffic would only get worse with more development. Improving intersections with vehicle detection and coordinating signals to minimize waiting time were recommended, but the focus for meaningfully improving capacity going forward was clearly on developing alternate means of getting around such as walking, bikes and public transportation. It's the public transportation piece that got me thinking about Worcester's AIRLINE BRT system, the AIRLINE East branch serving Shrewsbury and, more to the point, connections at it's eastern terminus at Fairlawn.
|AIRLINE East (Red), Proposed Route 9 Bus (Orange) and Proposed Shrewsbury I-290 - Route 9 Highway Connector (Blue)|
|Simarano Dr. Connector (Exit 23C) off of I-495 in Marlborough (Image Rotated Approx. 45 degrees Counterclockwise to Match Orientation of I-290)|
Intermodal Transit Station at Route 9/I-290 Connector/Maple Ave Intersections - I should be clear that the only way I would support developing the above highway connector was if it were a part of a bigger plan to support the development of multiple modes of transit both within Worcester and along the Route 9 corridor. It seems to me that the existing vacant industrial land and building (and presently listed for sale I believe) just east of the intersection of Route 9 and Maple Ave. would be a great location for an intermodal transit terminal similar in function (but certainly not scale) to the intermodal Alewife Station in Cambridge.
|Potential Location for Intermodal Transit Station Just East of the Route 9 and Maple Ave. Intersection in Shrewsbury|
A large parking area (surface initially, structured parking when the demand justifies it) would serve those arriving by car and provide users with three options - jump on the AIRLINE East to get to all points in Worcester, pickup the Route 9 bus to get to points along Route 9 in Shrewsbury, Northborough and Westborough (and points east), or travel to Shrewsbury center and other local points via the WRTA run Shrewsbury local service (present day WRTA Route 15). Some further thoughts on this intermodal station:
- This station could serve as a convenient jumping off point for getting to Worcester - get on the AIRLINE East bus and you can ride all the way to ORH within 1/2 hour while reading a book or catching up on those unread e-mails.
- This station would provide Shrewsbury with a great opportunity to promote Transit Oriented Development (TOD) along Route 9 and could serve as a model for the growth of the balance of Route 9 in Worcester County going forward.
- UMASS Memorial Medical Center - University Campus continues to grow and it seems like I see satellite parking lots for their employees all around town - this intermodal station together with the highway connector would allow UMASS to consolidate it's employee satellite parking in one convenient location and share both parking and transportation facilities instead of covering 100% of these costs themselves. The UMASS Memorial Medical Center - University Campus is tight, the less land that needs to be dedicated towards storing vehicle, the more land that is available for labs and offices focused on saving lives.