Common Traffic Trial FAQs
Posted on 05/25/2021
School & South Street Corner of Common FOXBOROUGH COMMON TRAFFIC

With change comes questions and here we hope to answer some of the most commonly asked questions we have received and give a bit of background information on this project and why we are doing this trial. We hope this helps address your concerns. However, if you still have question or would like to provide comments on this project please email Lance DelPriore at [email protected]

Why are we changing the Common’s traffic pattern?
The Board of Selectmen, as road commissioners, the Department of Public Works (DPW), Foxborough Public Safety and the Planning Department (“the Town”) have been looking at the function of the roads around the Common for several years now, responding to many resident concerns with traffic backups, pedestrian safety and parking.

The traffic pattern around the Common is unique in that there are seven streets, including a state highway (Route 140), directing traffic to and through the area. Approximately 14,000 vehicles pass through each day. If we were focused solely on moving vehicles through the area as quickly and as efficiently as possible, you would see a different design.  But, the Common area serves as “the heart of Uptown Foxborough” by attracting many pedestrians.  For this reason, we are trying to find a balance between moving cars (and many trucks, it turns out) through Uptown with improving pedestrian safety and comfort.  

By way of background, during the outreach phase of the Foxborough Master Plan, the importance of Uptown and the Town Common to Foxborough residents was emphasized by the following results:

Uptown was ranked the 2nd most critical issue facing the Town in the next 10 years (the casino, which was withdrawn, was #1)
Uptown and The Common were the highest ranked “Favorite Place in Town”
Uptown was seen as the top location in Town needing improvement.

... and why are we doing this now?The Town has been focused on addressing concerns about traffic, pedestrian safety and parking for several years now.  The first phase involved changes to the Main Street approach in front of the Marilyn Rodman Performing Arts Center in order to address lengthy backups down Main Street during rush hour.  The change to that end of the Common began as a trial, but was so successful that the Board of Selectmen voted to make the modification permanent.  Our DPW completed installation of the permanent curbing just last month. If you recall, when that trial started out folks were startled by the barrels and cones.  Soon travelers became accustomed to the pattern, traffic no longer backed up to the DQ, and now that construction is complete, the improvement blends seamlessly with the Common and vicinity.  

Phase Two of addressing traffic and pedestrian safety around the Common was always planned to focus on the South and Central Street exits, most particularly addressing the cars that exit onto Central Street from the inside lane of the rotary.  After the successful Phase One trial at Main Street, we intended to proceed to Phase Two immediately, but these efforts were paused due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  We did not want to run a trial with so few people traveling the roadways.  

Why the Shared Streets program?Earlier this year, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts opened a grant program called “Shared Streets and Spaces”. Through this program, the Department of Transportation sought to assist municipalities in meeting their individual needs for more and safer outdoor recreation, commerce, community activities, and mobility. We applied under their “Main Streets” program which provides “funding to invest in local downtowns … by repurposing streets, plazas, sidewalks, curbs, and parking areas to facilitate outdoor activities and summer programming, including but not limited to facilities for eating, shopping, play, and community events and spaces for all ages.”  

Foxborough received “free” (paid for by the State) consulting services to look at our Uptown traffic and to assist us in determining steps that could be taken to improve pedestrian safety. We went into the program planning to look solely at crosswalk locations.  However we soon learned that a lot goes into crosswalk locations and that there are many other strategies to improve pedestrian safety more effectively.  One benefit to us focusing on improving pedestrian access to and around the Common at this time, in addition to improved safety, was that we became eligible for grant funding to do the Phase Two work already planned.   

We focused on the School Street angled parking for the Shared Streets grant because we have heard many concerns about the angled parking spaces, particularly that there is no access from the angled spaces on School Street to the Common without walking behind parked vehicles.  Residents have expressed a desire for full access around the exterior of the Common fence.  Additionally, in the past we have heard concerns from School Street businesses that visitors have to cross School Street at times to park.  As such, we focused our efforts on testing whether parallel spaces could work on School Street which would then allow improved pedestrian access around the Common, outside the fence.

During the trial, the captured space behind the parallel parking spaces on the Common side of School Street, in front of the fence, is meant to be used by pedestrians. It allows full access outside the fence on that side of the Common.  We knew the parallel parking spaces would be a challenge in this area, but after careful consideration, much of which was discussed at televised Board of Selectmen meetings, it was determined that a trial, a test of this approach, was warranted.  It should be noted this trial layout meets all safety and dimensional standards; no parking spaces have been lost (substituted 19 angle spaces with 20 parallel spaces; however first space on Central Street is blocked off net change to Uptown parking is zero); and parallel parking spaces are effectively used elsewhere Uptown.  Additionally we have seen a decrease in speeds on School Street, which is a benefit and one of the primary goals of this trial. If this trial is successful, the distracting orange cones and barrels would be replaced with low profile permanent construction materials, similar to up at Main Street.  

Who designed these changes? The Shared Streets grant funding allowed Foxborough to utilize the professional engineering services of Kittelson & Associates, Inc., a Transportation Engineering and Planning firm retained by the State to assist communities like Foxborough. Working with DPW, Planning, and then ultimately with the Board of Selectmen sub-committee (see below), the staff from Kittelson & Associates developed a design with a focus on pedestrian safety, in addition to eliminating the ability of vehicles to exit onto Central Street from the inside lane. The pedestrian safety is increased by reduced exposure time on crosswalk widths, along with the added sidewalk space between the parallel parking spaces and the outside of the Common fence. While the many orange cones and barrels can seem distracting, in addition to marking travel lanes, they also narrow exposed crosswalk areas.  What this means is under permanent conditions, the roadway would be narrowed in those areas currently marked with cones, which would mean pedestrians are exposed to passing vehicles for a shorter distance. 

Who approved this plan?DPW and Planning first presented a concept plan for this expanded Phase Two work (including a change to the angled parking spaces) at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting of January 19, 2021.  With many questions to be answered, a sub-committee of two members of the Board of Selectmen (Stephanie McGowan and Ed O’Leary) was created to work with DPW, Planning and Public Safety to evaluate the concept.  The sub-committee met on February 1, 2021, and presented their findings to the full Board of Selectmen on March 2, 2021, at which time the three week trial was approved.  

Were Town funds used for this project?
No, all design and materials were funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Shared Streets and Spaces grant program.

How long will this last?The trial began May 17, 2021 and is scheduled to run three weeks.  The Board of Selectmen will discuss the outcome of the trial at their meeting on June 8, 2021.

Are adjustments being made to original design?The Department of Public Works has been actively observing temporary layout since the original installation and has made various minor adjustments to improve the overall traffic flow.  Some of these changes include the removal of three section of rubber curbing entering the South Street and Central intersection.  Also, the removal of a few sections of interior rubber curbing from the outside lane.  One long time problematic parking space was removed on Central Street to improve turning radius, but one was added with the parallel parking layout so the total net parking remains unchanged. The DPW will continue to observe and make changes as needed.  

What if I have comments or questions?The purpose of the trial is to test a layout that balances the movement of vehicles around the rotary while improving pedestrian safety and access.  Feedback is welcome, and in fact is appreciated. 

Please send comments to Town Engineer Lance DelPriore via email at 
[email protected] and take our survey