Downtown Framingham could have a completely new look within two years, if everything goes according to the plans presented at a public hearing Thursday night.
The plan, presented by engineering firm BETA, calls for widened sidewalks, synchronized lights, more crosswalks and changes to the heavily-discussed rotary in front of the Memorial Building.
Reactions to the change at the rotary at Union Avenue and Concord Street ranged from applause to outrage. More than two dozens residents attended the hearing.
Planning Board Chair Tom Mahoney said the current traffic circle design of the intersection functions at a D level. Mahoney continued to say changing the intersection to a traditional light wouldn’t improve the functionality beyond that level.
“I think the cost benefit is not there,” Mahoney said.
On the other hand, many who took the microphone said the intersection needs to be changed because of the high number of crashes there.
“From my view in the Arcade building I’ve seen several fender-benders take place there in just the past two weeks,” said Framingham Downtown Renaissance Executive Director Holli Andrews.
The estimated project cost is $8 million, via federal and state funding.
Other major intersection changes include the addition of a traffic light at the Irving Street intersection and the combined intersection at Lincoln and Clinton streets.
No changes were proposed for the train crossing.
"The train and the tracks are the problem and nothing is going to be right until something is done about that," said Precinct 6 Town Meeting member Robert Bolles.
Changes to downtown Framingham go back for many years; the most recent change was the addition of the rotary a decade ago. Before that committees had looked at the problem as far back as the 1930s, according to one speaker.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) sponsored the hearing. The presentation was based on a 25 percent plan and will need to be ratified by MassDOT before a more concrete plan is submitted at the 75 percent level. Final construction begins when the plan is at 100 percent.
Senior Traffic Engineer for BETA Ken Petraglia said if they stay the course with the current plan a final submission could be the summer 2013 with construction beginning summer 2014.