Framingham is moving down the road to ease traffic congestion and improve access to the Framingham Tech Park and the 9/90 Corporate Center on the Western border of town.
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council presented its study of the industrial/corporate areas to the Framingham Board of Selectmen Tuesday evening. The study is funded by federal grants.
Council representatives emphasized that the presentation was a first step in addressing the expected growth of workers commuting to the area. The Council's overall objectives are more economic development, reduced employee driving to and from the sites and improved employment opportunities.
“We need to make the point that we would do nothing to discourage future development of the Tech Park,” said Selectmen Chair Charlie Sisitsky after the presentation. “We want to make traffic move more efficiently and we would do nothing like down zoning. We and the employers (of Tech Park and 9/90) have the same common goal to continue growth of industry in the town.”
The Council study found that about 9,000 people currently commute to the industrial parks and the vast majority, 84 percent, of the commuters travel solo.
The number of workers coming into the parks is expected to grow steadily. One example offered in the study is Genzyme’s plans to add 5,000 employees.
The Council study was conducted by an independent technical assistance panel assembled by Council that identified categories of strategies that could be implemented to reach the goals of the plan, which still needs to be established.
The lead strategy is labeled Advanced Transportation Demand Management and the primary goal would be to cut down on the number of cars with solo drivers coming into and leaving the parks during morning and afternoon commute times. The Council envisions initiatives by employers and the town to reduce the volume of single occupancy vehicles.
A second strategy would be to increase commuter shuttle services and ridership from various points in and out of town.
Other strategies identified by Council included:
- infrastructure improvements to the roads leading to the parks
- improved bicycle and pedestrian accessibility
- creating a sense of place where employees of the companies in the park would have activities and attractions before, during and after working hours.
Selectman Laurie Lee expressed her support of the plan and added, “We need to go in the direction of having people work where they live,” and create more employment opportunities for Framingham residents.
The Council representatives offer three steps that would be taken in the next month to convert the study to a plan:
- Have interested parties visit http://mapc.org/techpark. to learn more about the project;
- Have Framingham Selectmen and other governmental and business interests provide comment about the existing conditions and proposed strategies;
- Council will develop the strategies and comments into a plan.