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Route 3A Corridor Plans Explained by MassDot

Burlington officials and residents were able to dig in a little deeper on the repaving and restriping project along route 3A scheduled for the spring.

During a virtual public hearing Thursday night, most of the questions were concerns over the narrowing the streets to one lane of traffic on each side, which some residents believe will cause further congestion.

Jeffrey DiBona, a member of the Board of Appeals and Town Meeting member, said he felt like the project suddenly appeared out of nowhere.

“I think everyone is in favor of resurfacing,” he said. “I, myself, don’t like my teeth being rattled out when I’m driving down the road. Sidewalks have been a long-talked-about issue in town and any improvement is welcome. But narrowing (the road) down to one lane would be detrimental.”

MassDot put forth that “excessively wide lanes” — where drivers are not sure how to engage the road — are also a danger. The state also contends that once safety improvements are made, only a minute or so will be added to travel time along the corridor.

DiBona also wondered why traffic surveys were being conducted in May 2020, during the height of the pandemic when most people were working at home.

But Peter Wroblewski, an engineering consultant from Howard Stein Hudson, the engineering consultants supporting MassDot on the project, said the 2020 data is in addition to other numbers at the state’s disposal.

“Prior to covid, we got as much traffic volume information as we could from existing information from Burlington, Billerica and MassDot,” Wroblewski said.

The MassDot plan calls for 11-foot lanes on each side of the road, along with 3-foot painted buffers, 6-foot bike lanes and 5-foot sidewalks. Pedestrians will also be safer at crosswalks engaging one lane of traffic rather than two cars on a wide stretch of road, as part of the plan.

“A lot of people have expressed concerns they’re worried about getting sideswiped every time they travel down 3A,” said Daniel Wilk of MaassDot. “We’re trying to get a standard lane width and accommodate all modes of transportation.”

Mary Leach says she drives the 3A corridor everyday to work and it’s always a “terrifying experience.” For that reason, she is in agreement with the project despite potential congestion issues.

“I feel like it’s better to get there alive with your car not scraped to not get there at all,” she said.

Martha Simon of the School Committee had concerns about the school bus routes along Cambridge Street, especially where it intersects with County Road. She said there is little to no sidewalk at the location and bad visibility. She asked if sidewalks are added or rebuilt that special consideration be given to the students at that location.

She also requested MassDot reach out to the town for specifics on the problem.