Towns seeking study of road, focus on 3A rotary
Focus on 3A Rotary to Nantasket Beach
When all is said and done, the route stretching from Hingham’s 3A Rotary to Nantasket Beach in Hull could incorporate pedestrian and bicycle paths, crosswalks, increased parking facilities, and trolleys allowing for remote parking and public transit to attractions in the towns.
According to local officials, conditions have changed markedly since the area’s transportation structure was put in place.
The closure of Paragon Park in 1985 significantly lightened the traffic load on the four-lane road, which was widened in the 1930s to accommodate the thousands who attended the park regularly.
The restoration of the train line, which includes a stop at Nantasket Junction, has also reduced the number of vehicles into and out of the peninsula.
On the other hand, traffic has been increased by growing populations in the two towns, and the creation of major destinations along the route, such as the District Court, Hull Medical Center, and Nantascot Place Condominiums.
“[We need to] look towards improvement in the future,’’ said Philip Lemnios, Hull’s town manager.
“There are some folks in town and in both communities that will tell you that maybe there’s too much capacity for the roadway, [that it needs] more bike lanes and pedestrian access,’’ he said. “Some say it would be great to have weekend shuttle access from the park for the train [or] to the beach or shopping centers in Hingham. . . .
“The first step is [to ask] what do you have, catalogue it, collect the data.’’
With those ideas in mind, Hingham and Hull jointly applied this month for a $200,000 grant from the State Transportation Improvement Plan for a study that would look at the road and suggest improvements.
The proposal has been in the works for about a year.
“Each of our communities has interest in what goes on in our own community, but this corridor is something that is regional in nature, so looking at it jointly seems to make a lot of sense,’’ Lemnios said.
From Summer Street to Rockland Street to George Washington Boulevard, the study would be a comprehensive “Complete Streets’’ concept design, aimed at looking at the transportation modes, the need to handle Nantasket Beach’s 500,000 seasonal visitors, and the requirement for increased year-round public safety.
The first phase of the project would also include public workshops to see what kind of changes people have in mind for the road.
Hull is also pursuing the revival of the ferry system, which might ease the traffic burden of people going onto and off of the peninsula.
Although Hingham has signed on to the project, town officials are quick to point out that majority of the benefits of such a study would go to Hull.
“This is an initiative that is spearheaded by Hull . . . it’s of most concern to them. But we’re good neighbors and we’re supporting them,’’ said Hingham’s town administrator, Ted Alexiades.
According to Alexiades, Hingham’s main priority remains the Derby Street Corridor, which is also looking for funding from the State Transportation Improvement Plan to improve what has been deemed a dangerous traffic sector.
Changes for the road could include traffic lights at the on- and off-ramps at Route 3, bicycle lanes, and a reconfiguration or realignment of the Gardner Street intersection, “which is the single most problematic intersection in town from a safety standpoint,’’ said Roger Fernandes Hingham projects engineer.
Even though the town is seeking funding for the projects from the same pot of money, Hingham officials hope both can be achieved.
“We hope it doesn’t come down to a choice between one or the other,’’ Alexiades said. “But the town is very clear that it’s in the best interest of [Hingham] to repair the Derby Street corridor before we do any other projects.’’
The project has already received money from the state to design a section of the road from Gardner Street to Recreation Park Drive. The functional design report has already been completed, Fernandes said.
The town also plans to spend $220,000 to design the stretch from Cushing Street to Pond Park Drive. Already, the town has set aside $135,000 for the project: $75,000 appropriated from 2011 Town Meeting, and $60,000 from a contribution from A.W. Perry Inc., which built the South Shore Bone & Muscle Center at the Industrial Complex nearby.
The design work will begin with that money, with the remaining $85,000 most likely to be requested at Town Meeting in 2013.
Once both design components are completed, the state has agreed to fund 100 percent of the construction costs, expected to be around $7 million.
Although the Hull improvement would affect people who use the beach, the Derby Street improvements are more important for safety and would also have implications for Norwell and Weymouth, Fernandes said.
The Derby Street corridor is also the key to fiscal success in the region.
“We need to [stay focused on Derby] for the economic vitality of Hingham and for the region. It will be our priority until we accomplish that,’’ Alexiades said. “It’s not to say that we can’t support our neighbors in Hull for a project for them.’’
In the end, the funding decision is up to the state.
“The actual work itself, the study, might only take six months. But [getting] the funding for the study could take a lot longer,’’ Fernandes said. “[And] it’s usually difficult to get the study money from MassDOT.’’
Jessica Bartlett can be reached at email@example.com.