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Holliston - Local Town Pages

Lowland Street traffic study recommends closing Lowland Street at rail trail, residents encouraged to send comments to Select Board

By Theresa Knapp 

In an attempt to control heavy commercial vehicle traffic on local roadways, specifically Lowland Street, traffic engineers have recommended the closure of Lowland Street at the rail trail crossing (with a pipe gate or remote control gate that would allow emergency vehicle access) and improved signage throughout town. 

On Aug. 28, the Select Board accepted a report by McMahon Associates which laid out its recommendations. The report can be found at Residents are encouraged to review the document and send comments to the board. If a public hearing is warranted, it would be held sometime after the Oct. 16 special town meeting. 

At the August meeting, Chairperson John Cronin said, “This board, several months ago, had begun the process of examining circumstances up at the Lowland area of Lowland Industrial Park. There were some complaints about property damage and accidents and repeated abuse of the heavy commercial vehicle exclusion in that area. After several public meetings, we discussed some options and one of them was to hire a traffic engineer to perform a study with some recommendations.”

At the meeting, the board heard from traffic engineer Michael Pompili of McMahon Associates, a firm that previously worked with the town on the heavy commercial vehicle restriction that is currently on Woodland Street; the firm also helped the town to apply to MassDOT for a restriction on Lowland Street that was ultimately not approved. 

Pompili said that, when they took traffic counts in that area in 2021, “There were about 230 trucks per day on Lowland Street, and 260 on Woodland…With the closure of the bridge on Woodland Street, now Lowland has become the de facto detour route for that traffic and trucks have been ignoring the heavy commercial vehicle exclusion on Woodland Street and truck traffic has increased on Lowland causing property damage.” 

Pompili said they did not collect traffic counts for this effort, but it was suggested for the future. 

McMahon Associates’ recommendations included: 

– Close Lowland Street at the rail trail crossing with a pipe gate or remote control gate (which would allow emergency vehicle access) 

– Install detour signage for the Woodland Street bridge closure to be updated to route detoured traffic via Whitney Street

– Collect traffic counts at Washington Street at Whitney Street, and perform traffic operations and signal warrant analysis 

– If a signal is warranted, install temporary traffic signals 

If traffic lights are needed, Pompili recommended “the town could implement temporary traffic signals such as trailer mounted traffic signals on an extendable arm, or temporary wooden poles with wire-mounted signals spanning above the intersection.”

In addition, the firm recommended changing ‘no truck’ signs from “except local deliveries,” which can have several interpretations, to “no trucks over 2 ½ tons.” 

“But that’s probably not enough to correct the issue,” said Pompili, noting trucks could continue to ignore the signs, especially if there is no enforcement, and could view any imposed penalty as “the cost of doing business.” 

Other considerations included overhead height barriers (similar to the deterrents on Storrow Drive) like hanging tubes; narrowing the road with curb extensions or chicanes (curb extensions that alternate sides of the road); and dead-ending the roadway at the rail trail.