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The Much-anticipated Mudville Traffic Study is Here!

by Chris Cain
December 1, 2018

When I studied science in school (in addition to reading, writing, and 'rithmetic of course), the professor would say, "In God We Trust, All Others
Bring Data."  Holliston's Board of Selectmen must have gone to the same school because they wanted data before considering any traffic volume and speed mitigation strategies in Mudville.  The McMahon group recently delivered their 104 page report to the Selectmen (and to the public via the town's website).

Rather than having everyone read the entire report, below are some of the data presented in a 'did you know' format.

Did you know the current speed limit on all streets in Mudville is exactly the same as on Route 16 in downtown Holliston - 30 mph.  Looking at the
compilation photo above, what might strike you - besides that there are no speed limit signs anywhere in Mudville?

Did you know that there are seasonal variations in traffic volume?  The initial Mudville traffic volume study was done in December 2016 and the most recent study was completed this October.  McMahon adjusted the counts based on MassDOT norms to provide a more 'apples-to-apple' comparison.

Did you know that in December 2016, 722 vehicles traveled on School, Spring, and Pleasant Streets during a day?  During the most recent study, the volume increased to 1,095 vehicles per day.  No data were collected on Union Street during either study (presumably because all traffic transiting the other three streets ultimately end up on Union on the way to Central Street).

Did you know that 1,095 vehicles per day is a low volume in McMahon's report? "However, the resultant traffic volumes remain low on local roadways and the minor increase does not adversely impact traffic operations in the study area. Traffic mitigation is not warranted on the basis of re-routed traffic. However, the local roadways, particularly in Mudville, are narrow, the roadway edges are not clearly defined, and the residential structures are located in close proximity to the roadways."

Did you know that peak volumes during both studies happened between 7:15-8:15 am and 2:45-3:45 pm?  Eastbound traffic was higher in the morning and Westbound traffic was highest in the afternoon.  These times and directions suggest that traffic volume is correlated to the beginning and end of school days.  The same times that Mudville students and parents are walking to and from school.

Did you know that 85% of the traffic traveling through Mudville went 28 mph or less during the most recent study (no speed data were collected in the Dec 2016 study)?  The highest speed clocked in Mudville during the recent study was 45 mph on Pleasant Street!  The 85th percentile figure is used when setting posted speed limits.

Did you know that traffic counters (human) were deployed at the corners of Union and Central and Linden and Woodland to track the types of vehicles and pedestrians moving through each intersection and which way traffic turned at those intersections?  Not surprisingly, most vehicles were cars and SUV / pickup trucks.

Did you know that the most recent traffic study indicated that FEWER vehicles turned left from Central onto Union?  Moving up on a scale of A-F from a C to a B. Some drivers seem to be using the new downtown traffic signals to make a left turn onto Route 16 rather than rely on the kindness of Route 16 drivers to make the left turn from School, Spring, or Pleasant Streets.

Did you know that the most recent traffic study indicated  MORE vehicles are turning from Linden onto Woodland?  On the same A-F scale, this intersection moved down from a D to an F.  McMahon uses D as a reasonable traffic flow - not too easy; not too hard to use the intersection. 

Did you know what McMahon recommended as traffic mitigation /'calming' actions based on their observation, "Given these conditions, traffic mitigation in Mudville could be considered to control travel speeds, address turn radii at intersections, and to provide a safe environment for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists."? 

1) Install pavement structures(bumps); 2) Create one-way streets; 3) Add striping; 4) Add speed feedback signage.

Did you know why McMahon did not include reducing the speed limit and / or adding stop signs in their recommendations?  State statutes proscribe why / how a municipality may lower the speed limit from the state standard for unmarked roadways of 30mph.  Lowering the limit to 25mph is relatively easy under the current statutes.  Moving to a 20mph limit is a more extensive process - but not impossible.  Based on McMahon's experience, stop signs lose their effectiveness and become 'rolling stops' when enforcement is not in place.

At the conclusion of McMahon's recent presentation to the Board of Selectmen, Chairman Jay Marsden said "we have our marching orders to do some research on mitigation, one-ways, signage and the process to lower speed".

It is important for all readers to know that my wife and I live on Pleasant Street.  I am grateful that there are now data that validate our informal traffic monitoring based on the traffic sounds and house-shaking.


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Comments (5)

I agree with you Peter.

- Mark | 12/5/18 12:48 AM

In my opinion the lights are a failure. I live on Washington street a 1/4 of a mile outside of downtown. Traffic is stopped outside my front door throughout the day. I am in sales and use WAZE as my GPS. WAZE regularly tries to send me through Mudville to avoid the lights downtown. Hiring McMahon to evaluate the negative impact of their design is a clear conflict of interest. Did you really think they would find fault in their design. The traffic study was a waste of town resources. We should have engaged a third party to evaluate the situation.

- Jonathan Varrell | 12/4/18 6:54 PM

If you think Mudville has traffic, come down to Locust and High St. They are avoiding the light at High and Woodland. No markings or lines or speed bumps on this road. Not safe. People don't stop at the stop signs just as you say roll through. We also have trucks and the road is posted for 2 1/2 ton limit.

- Laurianne Wills | 12/4/18 9:53 AM

I'll probably get blasted for this, but here goes...Aside from rush hour, which I feel is pretty much the same, downtown traffic doesn't seem any worse to me. I can't speak for Mudville, but based on my downtown travels, I found that turning onto Washington from Central, Green or Hollis is *much* easier than it used to be, especially left turns. It takes a little longer off Central than I would like, but I'm willing to trade that for a safer intersection there, as well as at Hollis and Green. Traffic flow from Hollis and Central seems "fairer" and I don't see the disorganized mess at Central that used to be the norm before the lights. Highland and Washington backups are still here, and I doubt they will ever go away -- there's just too much flow trying to move through town at rush hour. At least the new signals enforce some order on it. It will take a little while, but I'm going to be very interested when we can compare the accident rates in the Hollis to Green St stretch of Washington before and after signal installation. Perhaps I have a higher tolerance for delays, but I'd rather get where I'm going safely than faster.

- Peter Simpson | 12/4/18 8:44 AM

Did you know -- they presented the same material from a previous year which town meeting attendees had dislike vehemently and which again at their 2nd town meeting had thrown the public into an uproar. Why wasn't McMahon (note that THE McMahon HERSELF was at that meeting)prepared especially when we were voting on funding for the project)? Have/Did they taken into account the lights at Highland, Rt 126, and Lowland? Makes me wonder why we are still paying them when there are so many questions (unless they are trying to make it right and are not charging the town). Anyways, I still avoid downtown on my commute home (I'm near the Medway Line) -- too much traffic on Rt 16 and it is backed up to Highland.

- Karen Fung | 12/2/18 3:29 PM



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