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Citizens for Limited Taxation

Framingham looks to replace downtown rotary February 11, 2010
Dan McDonald 508-626-4416 Metrowest Daily News
FRAMINGHAM -- The town has a $7.5 million plan it hopes will breathe new life into the economically stagnant downtown.

Thanks to a late Tuesday night selectmen vote, Framingham is going ahead with a plan that would significantly change traffic flow and spruce up the streetscape of its central business district.

Under the initiative, the rotary in front of the Memorial Building will be replaced with traffic lights. The plan also includes the addition of traffic lights at the Hollis and Irving Street intersection, south of the downtown railroad tracks, and the Clinton and Concord Street intersection, north of the tracks near the Memorial Building.

All of these lights would be synchronized, which would help ensure better traffic flow, according to the plan.

The town hopes the design can be completed by next January.

Park Street Common will be renovated under the plan. Other improvements include more street and sidewalk buffers of green space, more shade trees lining downtown thoroughfares, concrete seating on the sidewalks and new lampposts, curbing and sidewalk design.

The plans are intended to make the downtown, which is marred by a combination of blight and empty storefronts, more aesthetically pleasing while reducing traffic snarls and making it easier for people to walk around.

"We're working toward the big picture which is ultimately the revitalization of the town," said Alison Steinfeld, director for economic and community development. "We need public investment to leverage private investment."

The downtown rotary is clogged with traffic several times every day.

When a train travels along the at-grade crossing at routes 126 and 135, traffic sometimes backs up all the way along Concord Street to the Memorial Building.

The congestion exacerbates problems for businesses. Some business owners feel that would-be shoppers avoid the area because of traffic.

A three-year study revealed that the downtown corridor - from the Lincoln and Concord intersection down to Irving Street - has seven times the rate of vehicle crashes as the statewide average for an urban area, according to a presentation by the town's consultants spearheading the plans, BETA Group and Cecil Group.

The plan that would do away with the rotary proposes to use green space as a buffer along the edges of the new-look three-way intersection.

The consultants also recommend installing brick accents to the sidewalk and combination seats and planters near the intersection of Hollis and Irving streets.

Along Concord Street, the plan proposes brick accents on the sidewalk in a herringbone pattern and scored concrete, among other things.

The town hopes a 12-year-old, $4.5 million federal earmark will take a significant bite out of the project's estimated costs.

The town received the earmark in 1998 to renovate a bridge that spanned Rte. 9. However, the state fixed the bridge of its own accord. The town still has the federal money and it can be used for such a project, but the design has to be completed by January 2011 for that to happen.

There is also a $500,000 earmark specifically for downtown use that could, and likely will, be tapped for the project.

The January deadline may change, said town engineer Bill Sedewitz, but that is what the town is aiming for.

"It's an aggressive schedule," he said.

Designs will likely be funded with Chapter 90 money and "possibly some block grants," said Steinfeld.

The plan could dovetail with any attempt to fix the at-grade rail crossing, town officials say.

"This is going to give a breath of life into the downtown," said Selectman Laurie Lee.

Selectmen Chairwoman Ginger Esty, who abstained from voting on the project, said she was not convinced that removing the rotary would be the best solution.

"The key is when the trains come through, all bets are off," said Esty yesterday.

Chris Walsh, a Framingham architect served on a town task force to examine the downtown rail crossing and attended Tuesday night's meeting, said he is on board with the proposal but noted "once you go with synchronization, you live and die by it."




Attract shoppers to WHAT BUSINESS in down town?????????????????????????????


Washakum Will

More lights? Give me a break. there are too many lights in downtown area. It s a joke.



Yeah, sure... like that fiasco that took 2 years to build on the corner of maple and Franklin streets.


Rich S

The congestion exacerbates problems for businesses. Some business owners feel that would-be shoppers avoid the area because of traffic.

Let's see here....do people avoid going downtown because:
most shop keepers don't speak English
there is little to nothing of interest there unless you want a hoodie or a shiny soccer shirt
there's hardly any parking
there are loads of derelicts roaming the streets thanks to all of the lovely social service agencies
or- is it because the traffic situaion is tough?
Yeah.....I'd have to say it's the traffic alright.....


'All of these lights would be synchronized, which would help ensure better traffic flow, according to the plan.'

Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, just like the Dennison lights right? Ha ha ha ha ha. what a joke.

We don't need any more lights!!


How will the money spruce up the area? Does it include the moving expenses for the relocation of SMOC and the Salvation Army? Does it include money to relocate all the ex-convicts off of whom SMOC has made a bundle?



The elephant in the room is that the railroad tracks cross the street and traffic comes to a complete halt for minutes at a time. This happens further up Rt 135 at Beaver Street also. What major town
has this problem in this day and age? Nothing will change the traffic problem in Framingham until the traffic is diverted under or over the tracks or by completely diverting all traffic away from the city center and widening the overpass at Fountain Street. Making the town center pedestrian only would make Framingham a much more desirable place to visit.



I hope somehow they can install traffic lights 'PRESS 1 FOR ENGLISH', 'PRESS 2 . . . . . etc', because 'keep right', 'vehicles in rotary heve the right of way',etc sure don't work, if no one abides by them ,and no one enforces them.



That flushing sound you hear is the result of another MORONIC decision by elected officials. With or without these lights the days of shoppers coming to downtown Framingham are over. People want one stop shoppping (ie:malls). $7.5 mil for lights??? Outrageous considering the OBVIOUS more pressing needs (schools, fire protection etc). of the town.



Aren't there better graveyards to invest in?



When was downtown not economically stagnant? Maybe when JC Penny and Woolworths were still there, back in the 60's-70's, when I used to go with my Nana, and we could walk downtown without worry. And the Friendlies was actually a Friendlies!! At least there is still Pan-Pan...right?



It makes me very sad to think of downtown Framingham. I remember it as it was. A travel agent who sold tickets to LOTS of other places, a bakery to buy the BEST goodies where the customers and the wait staff spoke English, a shoe cobbler, a wonderful bookstore, an ice cream shop for an afternoon treat, all gone. The $$ won't do the job, anohter traffic light won't help traffic flow. No, downtown in its glory days is gone.



$7.5 million the town doesnt have. Downtown Framingham is a PIG STYE and changing the traffic pattern is the LEAST of your problems. THE BEST MOVE I EVER MADE WAS ONE OUT OF NORTH BRAZIL



Absolute waste of $. They just put that rotary there a few years ago! Stop wasting OUR money!


Frank Uranio

Lights are not going to fix traffic jams...THE RAILROAD TRACKS ARE THE PROBLEM!
Work on that first, if you have to tear down buildings that don't serve a purpose then do it.

Money has already been wasted to restore the rotary for the third time at Concord and Union ave, not to mention the lovely shrubs and flowers that block your view into the rotary is part of that waste.

And didn't we just fix up the Park st. Common about 12 years ago with that esoteric design. Sucky Idea!

Do your traffic studies and worry about a bunch of transient businesses that will never serve my purposes.

When I was a kid the downtown area was my world, Bell Shops and Gorman's were empty then too, that was the middle 70's...

What's wrong with that picture? It would serve a better purpose as a stupid parking lot at this point. Get yer heads out of your a** and try to use the money wisely on the downtown area!


Framingham Ed

So the federal earmark is 12 years old? Good to see pork never dies, it just gets wasted on something else.



This rotary was put in because Town Manager George King thought it would improve traffic and give downtown an attractive appeal. Who paid for that change? The Park Street Common was just redone for about a half million. Does everyone get the sense that the people running Framingham just don't get it? This town needs so much and this is the best they can come up with. This town sucks.


gk chesterton fan

Why here's a brain storm: Go with traffic lights when the rest of the country and the world are going with roundabouts. This will be an unmitigated waste of money! The only thing that needs to be done is to shave about 1.5 feet off the bump out on the westerly side of the rotary so 2 lanes of cars can make it through that choke point and stack closer to the tracks.

Statistically, roundabouts reduce the number of accidents- traffic lights increase the number of accidents!!! This is ludicrous.

Traffic does not move downtown because of the trains and the pedestrians preempting signal phases and disregarding ped phases. None of this $7 million will do anything for these problems.

The traffic is a quagmire all the way to route 9 because the town specifically reduced Concord Street to 2 lanes from 4. to slow traffic down and increase pedestrian safety. Put in medians along Concord Street to control pedestrians and bring back 4 lanes.

Further- we have sunk a fortune in that downtown common already. The problem is not with the common, it's with the 'clients' of the social services downtown that deter people from going downtown. Spend the money on relocating those services elsewhere- Detroit for example, plenty of vacant space there.

So the mentality is this- we may have $4.5 million Fed dollars so it must be spent, not necessarily wisely and let's throw a couple three more million of our own. Brilliant!!



Lights will never improve the rotary situation. This is ridiculous waste of our tax $.



the area in and around downtown has a 7 times higher accident rate. How many of those accidents have at least one driver without a valid license? If people knew the rules of the road and how to properly use a rotary, (my guess is people who grew up in Massachusetts know how to use one) there would be fewer traffic problems, and probably far fewer accidents around downtown. It is a general lack of knowledge in what the rules of the road are that cause half the issues to begin with.



Traffic or no traffic Framingham down town will not change
Its what the cat (smock) drag in that people avoid.
I remember the street sales J C penny /Woolworths
And you could walk down town and even catch a flick
Now days I drive to Natick to get what I need the back way
I keep asking my wife time to move,
Move down town to Framingham center they have the parking
And traffic lights and Rt #9 and the flow is great no trains no salvation army
No drug clinics,
NO more overrides give the fat to the schools not to the Brazilian illegal



It's crime ridden and trashy, and there are no stores worth shopping in. I avoid it like the plague.

I guess the town is keeping town employees working though, even if unnecessarily, I'm sure they are happy about that.


civic minded

Hello? Is anyone who is in a decision-making position reading these comments? These comments are what you need to hear before spending $7.5M of OUR MONEY on this lame-brained bandaid idea. Traffic sometimes backs up to the Memorial building??? How about another 1000 feet back from there, numerous times daily? Just think about how much fun we will have during this construction phase. Throw in a couple of trains and we should be backed into Ashland on 1 side and Route 9 the other way.


fram opinion

I think everyone here has valid opinions probably because these are the folks that drive this everyday like myself. I think this is a complete waste of money. I agree we need to find a way to have the traffic or the trains go under the road just like the Natick stop...it makes the most sense and will illiminae the noise factor as well since the residents have to constantly listen to it, granted I live there and knew the situation but would love to improve it in that way. Syncronizing the lights doesn't work the way it is now, what makes them think adding more lights would resolve the problem? It would just create more frustration and it would take LONGER to get to where I live and get thru downtown! HELLO???!!!! Who do we call to voice our opinions and stop this?



Giving the drunks and addicts that stagger about downtown even more trees to pee on seems like a nice gesture, but it is futile. Until we stop importing them here, all the money in the world will not fix it...all we are doing is cleaning up the the surrounding towns/state's mess. And honest to God why would any sane person want to open a business in the middle of all this, but if you say this you will get sued. If you get rid of SMOC you will have a whole different town..just the truth, so sue me.



It's the trashy neighborhood and the residents of downtown that keep people away. Even though I live in Framingham, why would I go to the crappiest neighborhood in the area to do any shopping? The money would be better spent on efforts to force SMOC out of the area.



I'd love to see the 'breakdown' of costs that add up to $7.5 mil...what a ripoff. And people wonder why this country is broke???



It would be much better money spent to give the illegals tickets to go back where they came from. That right there would save millions in associated costs for the city.



I'd be afraid of getting in an accident in that area: Most of the locals don't have valid licenses or auto insurance.



Most likely the same contract that built the college President's garage for $400K. When you renovate a house you first remove the trash . . . gut the town first (SMOC, aliens, criminals) and start with a clean slate. It's the only way. But recently attending a BOS meeting, these people are clueless.



Let's see we have lights now that aren't working in a synchronized way and now Framingham want to put another set in for 7.5 million. I'll bet if they play their cards right they can get stimulus money and also a nice kickback from the contract to those that propose it. What could be a crazier idea then more light and more trains allowed. WOW

BEEP, BEEP  $1Million in interest alone! I thought we were broke!!!! When you have $5 million here, and $5 Million there and you seem to conveniently fail to mention that in front of TM or at a selectmen's meeting, what does that say about fiscal responsibility?

Who's minding the nut house here?

'There is also a $500,000 earmark specifically for downtown use that could, and likely will, be tapped for the project.' How about tapping it to get back some of the productive folks that got laid off? Sidewitz, if you were one of the lay-offs how would YOU feel about this?

Designs will likely be funded with Chapter 90 money and 'possibly some block grants,' said Steinfeld. Is SHE in any danger of being laid off??? I didn't think so!

'The plan could dovetail with any attempt to fix the at-grade rail crossing, town officials say.' RIGHT! Too stupid to dignify with a comment. The plan could dovetail with opening a new Nieman Marcus downtown. I think the latter might be more realistic.

'This is going to give a breath of life into the downtown,' said Selectman Laurie Lee. Another genius! When is SHE up for re-election? Bye bye Laurie Lee. How about a breath of life to the school children, the seniors, or even mom & pop? Laurie, I am sure it will be very pretty to look at from your office in Mem Hall.

'Selectmen Chairwoman Ginger Esty, who abstained from voting on the project, said she was not convinced that removing the rotary would be the best solution.' GUTLESS!! Never thought I would call Esty gutless, but if you know what you know, and I am sure you do, you need to vote and vote AGAINST these hair brained schemes, Ginger. Some people actually respect you and believe in you.

'The key is when the trains come through, all bets are off,' said Esty yesterday. OK, then why spend $5 Million on it??

Chris Walsh, a Framingham architect served on a town task force to examine the downtown rail crossing and attended Tuesday night's meeting, said he is on board with the proposal but noted 'once you go with synchronization, you live and die by it.' Hey Chris, 'once you make a stupid statement you live and die by it.' THIS IS THE IDIOT WE ARE ALL WAITING TO SEE RUN AGAINST PAM AGAIN? THIS IS AN IMPROVEMENT, ISN'T IT? Chris, wake up sir. If you want to replace Pam, you need to at least show us you are as smart as she is, and this isn't any way to show us that. Listen to mother, here Christopher, 'Wake the heck up, stand up straight and ask the right questions!!'

Not even a loop-the-loop rollercoaster over, under and around the tracks will help us here.



hahaha yea right UnionAver...How about an we take a walk through 'the weeds', then we can take a walk to the train station where some one with an arm like Roger Clemens just smashed out 2 windows and the glass has been on the platform for a week.Then we can waltz over to Bottle Bills and watch the homeless turn in their cans.Then to cap off our tour of the friendly downtown area,we can go to Arlington Street and score some heroin to be shot up in that lovely little park.



Nice rant Clarene Darrow...

Never thought I'd agree with you, but you seem to be spot-on about lots of the stuff you are raising. (you need a grammatical fix hear and thear, but I will give you a pass, even though you are, apparently a lawyer.)

UnionAver, You are going to take a lot of heat for your statements from the Rizofactors and from the Wolfeman and their loving backers, but I cannot tell you how absolutely right you are, IMHO. Framoingham is a festival of color, language and diversity, and that is what makes it so cool to all but the Immigrantophobes. Glad you spoke up about that.



Might be a good idea, get you through the trash area of town faster!



'Life is good... in Downtown Framingham!'

Seriously??? Framingham could be so much more. The downtown area is a trash hole of users and abusers. I am seeing more arrests of homeless people on drug violations, which is a good thing. The Framingham police are working to clean it up, but you can't clean up a town where a methadone clinic is stationed in the center. People are always coming to try to get treatment, and people are always falling out of it. People are breaking into houses because they were turned away from methadone clinics. SMOC has half of South Framingham filled with section 8 vouchers, and are paying more for apartments then a middleclass family could afford. Our welfare system is riddled with fraud.

Brazilians are the least of Framinghams worries. In fact Brazilians are for the most part hard workers. The fraud lies with SMOC and the users they are bringing into the area. They see Framingham as an easy target with lots of recourses for there drug addict clients. SMOC doesnt care about the people of Framingham. They claim to be a place of social change, but the basic idea of over burdening a community and completely throwing out any sort of balance is irresponsible. You cant put a subset of people (drug users & criminals) in a community and expect them to flourish. Its not in the best interest of the community or the client.

These methadone treatment clinics located in the heart of Framingham are always going to be an issue.

Life is good Sure it is, and I like living in Framingham, but if you think a train, or a rotary have anything to do with economy of downtown your on crack like the rest of them.


Rich S

I walk all over the downtown routinely without fear of attack or miscommunication with someone that doesn't speak English.

I once worked in a building downtown. I also rode the commuter rail into Boston for quite a while. UnionAver states he has no issue regarding miscommunication with someone that doesn't speak English. I routinely had people walk up to me selling things or whatever and speak to me in Portuguese. I once tried to get a haircut downtown. Low and behold nobody in the shop spoke English so I walked out since they couldn't understand when I tried to tell them how I wanted my hair cut. People would come into my office and be mortified when we couldn't accommodate them by speaking Portuguese. The Brazilian buffets are OK if you like all your food caked in salt. AutoBrite is a good car wash. In fact I also worked there back in high school. You can get there by Fountain St. to 135 though so it eliminates the traffic headache. The same goes for Framingham Bakery. I have absolutely no interest in the Russian market, the Korean market, the Japanese market, the Guatemalan market, or the Brazilian bakery where the day laborers congregate. I used to watch them every morning from my office window.

UnionAver also states: I walk all over the downtown routinely without fear of attack. Well my friend you don't like to confront reality- do you? During my commuter rail days I had some episodes. One morning when I was putting my money in the parking box at the station there was a man using a pair of needle nosed pliers trying to pull the money out of the slots. I yelled at him and he came at me brandishing the pliers. I held up my brief case to block the attack and he just decided to run away. There is a cop at the station every morning and I reported it but nothing ever came of it. Of course you would routinely find empty liquor bottles on the ground down there as well as the occasional puddle of vomit. Pan handlers would also be out every now and then. Spare Change Guy was always a pleasure to deal with. I saw him in South Station a few months back so it appears that hes relocated and no longer gracing downtown with his presence- darn! There was another time when I parked in the town garage across from the old registry building. At the end of the day I arrived back in town at 6:50. It was winter and it was dark out. I climbed the back stairs in the garage to get back to my car and I encountered a gentleman with his pants down in the stairwell. It looked like he was defecating. I just walked by and pretended I didn't see him. Imagine if a woman happened upon this scene.

Embrace our differences and embrace your community? No thanks. Quite frankly I'm embarrassed that the downtown is part of my community and with very good reason.
Life is good... in Downtown Framingham? I beg to differ.



At least the bums will have a nicer place to hang out at



Didn't they just build that stupid rotary? I don't get it. Build a damn express tunnel under downtown so I don't even have to see it anymore.



WOW!!!! I'm speechless. That's it. I don't know what to say. I feel numb....... WOW!!!!



It would be better to close off downtown to traffic. Take the properties on Freeman St., Frederick St., etc. by eminent domain and build a 'flyover' straight from Concord St. in front of Dunkin Donuts. It may cost more than the 7.5 million but it would serve a couple of purposes. Have traffic avoid the trains and get rid of the scum in that area.



I stay out of that area because of the traffic which is all day long! Anything they do can be better than what it is!



This has got to be THE biggest BOONDOGGLE Framingham has EVER proposed!!!

It took close to 6 months and over $100,000 to fill a SINGLE pothole on the Central Street bridge in Saxonville, so how long will this take and how much will it REALLY cost?!

Inquiring minds want to know, especially the illegal aliens who will benefit the most from this ''reviatilzation''...

P.S. c0cktail



they should fill up a dump truck with all the brazilians and dump it in brazil....



it has nothing to do with the train or the traffic - It's the illegals! Build an ICE building and clean up the area!



It will take a lot more than getting rid of the rotary to revitalize Downtown Framingham. If I had the business acuity not to mention the money surely there is some way to reinvent American business. Everything but everything from sea to shining sea in this country is made in China. From underwear to pots and pans. It's really pathetic. One would THINK some allegiance to the country could exist in American business. Yeah yeah I know it's cheaper to make goods there well who cares. I still if I had the knowledge try to get things manufactured HERE despite the unions and the benefits. If health care could be provided by the government American business could focus that money into manufacturing things. There needs to be a start. We cannot depend on a useless government to get it going. I sound conservative but I'm beginning to economically at least think that we. I remember Dennison a business which breathed life into Framingham in the days of old. GM closed, tons of business closed. If capitalism is so great why can't someone come up with the bucks to rev up the engine. Do it through manufacturing clean energy, environmental clean up, and then we need to manufacture our own pots and pans and do it right.

There is NO substitute for quality workmanship and America USED to provide that. I bought a lousy shower rod at Bed & Bath ...made in China NATURALLY. That lousy thing is made SO poorly. It looks nice but there is no lock to lock it in place. Twice it's come down on my head!! Once I almost fell in the shower because of it. I bought a mug at the Christmas Tree Store and called and asked if it had lead in it. They said they could not guarantee it did not.

I don't forget those things. I want business to get its act together and give us American made products and I WILL buy American made products even if I have to pay a little more. We used to be as China is now. Well, LET's do that again. I wish I had the youth, the knowledge and the financial acumen to use my skills and get this country moving again government be damned. I'm SICK of their promises BOTH parties and they get NOTHING done but stuff their pockets with OUR money! Used to be a liberal but I am rethinking my politics. This administration has not lived up to the change I thought would occur BUT I cannot stand the Republican social values. Economically maybe they have some points but I will never vote for people who want the social issues they do. It's too bad because our economy needs a SHOT in the arm and we cannot rely on government. It just won't happen! Just my opinion.



I just read Rich F's post.....UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sickening truly sickening. Why wasn't the police called? Especially about the man in the stairwell. I used to take the train and have stories of my own of drug addicts passed out in the elevator and I had to use the elevator with them sprawled out. I understand people's problems BUT there is a LIMIT and Rich f....brother that is just a disgusting story and as one human being to another I am sorry you had to endure that!!!! Awful.




As an update to this story: in order to keep expenses down, illegal aliens will be employed to lay the new herringbone brick work, mow the new green space and prune the new shade trees.

Stay tuned for further developments...



I suggest we spend the 10M on new Caterpillar bulldozers. I like to call it my open/green space



It's about time that Slampan got a face lift. 7.5 mil couldn't even help that mess!



I think you should KEEP the rotary...Keeping out-of towners driving around in circles is the only way you will keep them in that PIT of a town !!! BWA-HAHAHAHAHA...BBBWWWAAA-HAHAHAHAHAHA



We use to go to the Movies back in the early 60s where the Denison building is now. Coming from Natick we went over the tracks where McDonnal's was or is now. Then when we left we ened up going down to Concord St. and turning left to cross the tracks again. Usualy the train keep us from making the crossing without waiting about 10 minutes to cross. I came back to Framingham in 2004 and nothing has changed except you can not turn left off Dennison Ave to Concord now. The train is the problem oh wait the people who make the changes are the problems, They are stupid it seems. Nothing will change downtown till the trains are gone or the road goes under for north south traffic. Would be cheeper to dig under the tracks and make the trafffic drive under to cross the whole Rt. 135 . Get rid of some of the building around that part of town and make a real effort to move the traffic. Stupid government waist money all the time to hire friends for the work.



The only light that will help down town Framingham is the one used to start the fire.



People, the town has sat on 5 million dollard in funds for over 12 years, with interest that's like 9 million now on a bad day. Why has nobody noticedthis fat sitting there all these yers ?



how do you trust them to stay on budget or time after the main st bridge fiasco.



You can put all of the lipstick you want on this pig..... and all your're going to get is a pig wearing 10M
dollars worth of lipstick. Oink, oink, oink.... that's why they call it pork.

Bumpouts, shade trees, wrought iron benches, planters, ornate street lights; it's still going to be Framingham; NOT WELLSLEY, NEEDHAM OR NEWTON.

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