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A shared use path is off-road infrastructure that is physically separated from motorized vehicle traffic and designed for use by people of all ages. They are designed for two-way non-vehicle travel options for a wide variety of settings, such as walking with a stroller, riding a bicycle, or jogging. Shared use paths are typically paved and ADA compliant to meet the versatile needs of users.
In the context of this project, a shared-use path will:
Learn more about shared-use paths here.
The shared use path cross section will also reduce the curb-to-curb width of pavement along the corridor when compared to the cross section with buffered bike lanes (as shown in the following images).
The goals of the original MassDOT Healthy Transportation Policy (2013) state: “…to ensure all MassDOT projects are designed and implemented in a way that all our customers have access to safe and comfortable healthy transportation options at all MassDOT facilities and in all the services we provide.” A key phrase here is “all of our customers”, not just the avid experienced cyclists. This policy is geared towards attracting the “interested but concerned” bicyclist discussed above.
MassDOT took its policy further in 2020 with a new Engineering Directive (E-20-001) to apply guidelines for bicycle facilities based on vehicular speeds and volumes. The speed limit and volumes on Route 30 place this roadway in the category of requiring a separated bicycle facility in the form of either a shared use path, side path, separated bike lane, or buffered bike lane.
Through coordination with the Town, MassDOT, and the public, the preferred alternative selected was the 10-ft shared-use path (SUP). The typical cross-section includes 11-ft travel lanes, 3-ft shoulders, and a 10-ft shared-use path with a grass buffer. The grass buffer varies in width depending on space and constraints, and in some areas, the shared-use path directly abuts the roadway.
Another Important reason why a shared use path is being proposed along this corridor (as opposed to another type of bicycle accommodation), is that it will contribute to a greater shared use path network that is in design along Route 30 in Weston and Newton. There are currently four projects along Route 30 with proposed shared use paths that will connect to one another:
Combined, the shared-use path connected with the three other projects along Route 30 will result in approximately 4.5-miles of continuous shared-use path along Route 30 in Weston and Newton. This 4.5-mile path connection will begin at the Natick/Weston town line and extend to Lyons Field in Newton.
The proposed typical cross-section includes 11-ft travel lanes with 3-ft shoulders. From the Natick town line to Newton Street in Weston, there is a proposed 10-ft shared-use path that will run along the south side of the road with a grass buffer between the path and the roadway. This grass buffer varies in width but is most typically 3’- 5’ wide with a granite curb. At Newton Street, the path crosses to the north side of the road as it continues east.
The shared use path cross section includes 38-ft of impervious area compared to 41-ft of impervious in the buffered bike lane option. Over a 3.7 mile corridor, this equates to the shared use path option having 58,608 SF of impervious area LESS than the buffered bike lane option.
At signalized intersections, cyclists on the shared-use path will follow the pedestrian signals. At unsignalized intersections and driveways, shared-use path users have the right of way. This is the same condition for on-road bike lanes except for at signalized intersections where users of an on-road bike lane would go with the vehicular signal.
MassDOT is currently starting the design process for the project to connect the eastern limits of this project to the western limits of Route 30 over the Charles River bridge (shown on page 4). The intent is for that section of path to be constructed at the same time as the Weston Route 30 project. By that time, the Route 30 over the Charles River bridge project and the Newton Carriageway project will be constructed.
At the western project limits, the current design proposes a crossing with a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) to provide a safe crossing for cyclists to reach the appropriate side of the road (depending on their direction of travel). The western limits are at the Town line and therefore any extension of the shared use path would need to be initiated and designed by the town of Natick (and then Wayland shortly after). While there is still the possibility that a bicycle may continue to travel on the wrong side of the road, there will be pavement markings and signage that will guide cyclists to cross.
There is a variable-width buffer proposed between the shared-use path and road for this project which typically includes a 6-inch vertical curb and grass/ landscaping. There are areas of this corridor where there are various constraints such as trees, wetlands, or walls that have impacted the ability to provide a full 5-ft buffer. However, additional vertical separation can be evaluated to add more comfort to path users. This can be in the form of a barrier such as a wooden split-rail fence. Any barrier or fence placed would be done in a way to minimize impacts to sight distance at driveways and side streets.
Bicyclists are still able to travel on the road with vehicles on Route 30, as they would for any other roadway aside from those that explicitly prohibit bicycles, such as limited access highways.
Yes. The shared-use path will be ADA compliant. Shared-use paths are designed to serve users who have diverse modes of travel, have a variety of trip purposes, and are meant to accommodate to a wide spectrum of ages, abilities, and comfort levels.
However, there is an approximately 800 ft section of Route 30 east of Oak Street where the grade of roadway is 6.57%. Because the path follows the alignment and natural profile of the roadway, the path is allowable to be over 5% according to ADA/AAB guidelines. From the U.S. Access Board PROWAG
R302.5.1 Within Street or Highway Right-of-Way. Except as provided in R302.5.3, where pedestrian access routes are contained within a street or highway right-of-way, the grade of pedestrian access routes shall not exceed the general grade established for the adjacent street or highway.
In order to improve this condition for cyclists, the design consultant, Howard Stein Hudson, will look to widen the path to 12-ft while also adding a centerline for the path. This will help keep cyclists on their respective sides of the path to reduce conflicts between those traveling downhill and those climbing uphill. Additional width will be given to the uphill side. Also note, that within this 800-ft stretch of roadway there are no intersecting driveways or side streets along the path.
The traffic counts were collected in September 2018 when school was in session. The 25% design was submitted in the fall of 2020, and when the traffic analysis was completed (2018-2019) the 2018 traffic count data collected was the most appropriate data to use. During the pandemic, MassDOT issued an Engineering Directive prohibiting new traffic counts to be collected due to the impacts from COVID-19 on the travelling public and directed engineers to use historic data from 2014-2019 whenever possible. New traffic data is only allowed to be collected with approval from MassDOT. This directive is still in place, although it is expected to be lifted soon.
All intersections along the corridor were evaluated for traffic signals. Six met signal warrants. After evaluating each of these six intersections, the recommendation from the consultant was to propose new traffic signals at Winter Street and Oak Street, and a hybrid pedestrian/ emergency signal at Ash Street. This design was based on traffic volumes, speeds (40-45mph), crash history, sight distance, and the ability to provide safe pedestrian and bicycle crossings.
At Winter Street a signal would improve safety and delay for drivers turning onto Route 30. Currently there Weston Route 30 Reconstruction Project Questions & Answers is a lack of sufficient sight distance for drivers exiting Winter Street from both sides. A signal would also provide a safe crossing for pedestrian and bicycles. On the contrary, a signal does introduce a new delay for vehicles traveling on Route 30 at this location.
At Oak Street, a signal would improve safety and delay for vehicles turning onto Route 30 from Oak Street and Fields Pond Rd, and would also provide the ability to add a left turn lane on Route 30 westbound. A signal would provide a safe crossing for pedestrian and bicycles. However, as with Winter Street, it would introduce a new delay for vehicles on Route 30.
A hybrid emergency-pedestrian signal is proposed at Ash Street. This signal will only be activated when a pedestrian or bicyclist pushes the button, or when emergency vehicles need to exit or enter the fire station.
The design is proposing new traffic signals at the Winter Street and Oak Street intersections. This design was based on traffic volumes, speeds, crash history, sight distance, and the ability to provide safe pedestrian and bicycle crossings.
A hybrid emergency-pedestrian signal is proposed at Ash Street. This signal will only be activated when a pedestrian or bicyclist pushes the button, or when emergency vehicles need to exit or enter the fire station
These signals will use video detection. Route 30 will have a green light unless a car approaches on one of the side streets.
While it is possible to set the signals to flashing yellow during off-peak hours, it is not a typical design, and the video detection should remove the need for that.
Some examples of these types of shared use paths that run parallel to an adjacent roadway include:
to these types of facilities either as a path user or driver.
These roads with paths include
Given the recent change in MassDOT guidelines for bike accommodations along streets with higher volumes and speeds, there are several projects in design around the state that will have a similar type of shared use path running alongside a roadway.
Some of these projects in design include:
The conceptual plan presented at the 2018 Weston Town meeting was prior to any data collection and preliminary analysis. While the current design is similar to the initial concept, changes in multi-modal accommodations were required. These changes in project scope can occur for numerous reasons:
It was through this conceptual design process that we learned more information regarding the existing conditions (average daily traffic and vehicular speed) of Route 30 in Weston. In addition, design guidelines were updated by the MassDOT after the 2018 Town Meeting.
Analysis of the existing conditions and the update to the MassDOT design guidelines required modification of the proposed cross-section. The process and reasoning for the design change were discussed at various public meetings by way of the Traffic and Sidewalk Committee.
A 3.7 mile corridor project that is adding a shared use path, unfortunately, will involve some tree removal. Based on the layout of the 25% design and given the trees documented in the survey as well as the Town’s GIS located tree inventory, the tree removal count currently stands at 177 trees. The Town’s GIS inventory includes a tree health assessment and of the 177 trees: 39 are dead, 1 is in critical condition, 21 in poor condition, 71 in fair condition, 43 in good condition, and 2 in very good condition. There will be proposed tree plantings as part of this project that will replace trees at a goal ratio of 2:1. If that number of proposed trees cannot fit within the project limits, the municipality is often provided with trees to propose outside the project limits, or other vegetation may be proposed in some locations to improve screening for residential abutters and provide aesthetic landscaping improvements where space allows.
There have been numerous public meetings related to this project:
Traffic and Sidewalk Committee (T&SC) meeting:
Meeting with Project Team: Weston DPW, Engineering, Town Manager; MassDOT District 6, and design consultants Howard Stein Hudson (HSH)
Pre-25% Public Information Meeting hosted by the Traffic and Sidewalk Committee (T&SC):
Traffic and Sidewalk Committee (T&SC) meeting
Traffic and Sidewalk Committee (T&SC) meeting
Select Board meeting
The MassDOT 25% Design Public Hearing is tentatively scheduled