Franklin Downtown Undergoes $6.25M Makeover
A complex transportation construction project is helping to reshape the downtown of Franklin, Massachusetts, enhancing its appearance while improving traffic flow and pedestrian safety.
Walsh Contracting Corp. of Attleboro, Massachusetts, has a $5.2 million contract with the Highway Division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to reconstruct and resurface downtown sections of four major streets including a portion of Route 140.
Located just east of I-495 a few miles north of the intersection of I-495 and I-95 in southeastern Massachusetts, this bedroom community of 33,000 has experienced substantial traffic congestion in its downtown area for more than a decade. The current transportation project serves as the core of a multi-year roadway and streetscape plan conceived by a partnership of municipal officials and local businesses to rectify the problem.
This sweeping plan aims to improve vehicular movement through downtown Franklin, to reduce emergency vehicle response time, and to ameliorate the poor conditions of roadways. Such enhancements are expected to produce a safer, more pleasant atmosphere for pedestrians and encourage private sector investment in the downtown.
The overall plan, estimated to cost $6.25 million, is being financed through a $5 million federal High Priority Project (HPP) grant and approximately $1.25 million in state and local funds.
Route 140 Re-Route
One of the goals of the transportation contract is to change the current orientation of busy Route 140, according to Jeff Nutting, Town Administrator.
Nutting explained that at present, Route 140, also known as West Central Street, is two-way as it heads south from I-495 until it intersects with Emmons Street. From that point on, Route 140 becomes one-way southbound through downtown Franklin until it intersects with Lower Main Street, where it once again becomes a two-way roadway. (See accompanying map. Project completion dates are being revised.)
Conversely, Route 140 (East Central Street) heading north from I-95, is two-way until it meets the Lower Main Street intersection. At that point, Route 140 northbound traffic is switched to Lower Main Street. Route 140 northbound continues up Lower Main Street until it intersects with Emmons Street, then heads back down Emmons Street to intersect with West Central, where it becomes two-way once more.
Nutting said Walsh's MassDOT project will remove Route 140 northbound from Lower Main Street and Emmons Street, and restore the highway as a two-way thoroughfare on Central Street.
"This will make the downtown area more pedestrian-friendly," he said. "It will reduce traffic congestion and improve safety. And it will return the status of the Central (Street) Fire Station, which has been situated on a one-way street, back to being on a two-way street.
"That change alone reduces fire truck emergency response time by 90 seconds, which is significant when lives could be at stake."
Not a Typical Highway Contract
Construction got underway in late spring 2014, with Anthony Tavalone, CE III, serving as MassDOT's Resident Engineer, and Robert Crear representing Walsh Contracting as Project Manager.
Crear said one of the toughest challenges of the job was dealing with downtown traffic congestion. The scope of work of Walsh's contract is more time-consuming and labor intensive than a typical highway contract of equal cost. In addition to downtown road construction, this contract involves installing traffic signals with emergency preemption systems, period streetlights, traffic calming devices, resetting curbs or installing curbs where needed, constructing ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant sidewalks, resurfacing streets, making landscape improvements, and even setting up street furniture.
As part of this downtown work, crews have to move or protect some 200 trees, install 38 catch basins and 15 manholes, rebuild, remodel or change 24 drainage structures, adjust about 115 drainage structures and 25 sanitary structures, install 2,500 feet of 12-inch reinforced concrete pipe, and place, remove or reset more than 120 frame and grates (or covers). In addition, they are installing more than 6,000 feet of straight, curved, and wheelchair transition granite curbs, moving and resetting 4,500 feet of curb, moving and stacking 1,100 feet of curb, installng about 2,000 feet of precast concrete curb, and constructing new resin red brick pattern cross walks. Other work in this congested area involves building approximately 13,000 square yards of Portland cement concrete sidewalks, driveways and wheelchair ramps.
Complex Road Work
As for the road construction itself, it is substantial, diverse and intricate.
Designed by Weston & Sampson of Foxborough, Massachusetts, the roadway construction is approximately 7,730 feet, or roughly 1.5 miles, in length. About 3,900 feet of Main Street and 230 feet of Lincoln Street (Upper Main Street becomes Lincoln Street) are slated for either full depth reclamation or full depth construction, while approximately 230 feet of Summer Street is scheduled for full depth reclamation. The remaining work is to be mill and overlay (in some places, micromilling), consisting of about 875 feet of Emmons Street, 1,550 feet of West Central Street and 945 feet of East Central Street.
Road designers specify full depth reclamation when it's feasible and more economical than full depth reconstruction. In full depth reclamation, in-place asphalt pavement and some of the underlying aggregate materials are used to create a stabilized base upon which a new hot mix asphalt (HMA) wearing course is installed. The process involves pulverizing and blending the asphalt pavement and aggregate materials, introducing an additive such as calcium chloride, shaping and compacting the mixed materials, and placing the wearing course.
In mill and overlay, approximately 2 inches of existing asphalt pavement is removed using a cold planing machine equipped with a drum covered with carbide cutting bits, then a new wearing course of HMA mix is overlaid on the milled surface. In general, the term micromilling refers to equipping the milling machine with a special drum having the carbide bits placed closer together than standard drums in order to obtain a smoother milled surface.
SUPERPAVE for High Performance
Several different types of pavement structures are required for roadway construction.
However, all of the roadways being worked on have the same type of HMA wearing course - a 2-inch-thick layer of SUPERPAVE 12.5mm surface course. SUPERPAVE, which stands for SUperior PERforming asphalt PAVEments, is an improved pavement design system resulting from a six-year, $50-million Strategic Highway Research Program. It is employed as a guide for selecting and combining asphalt binder, aggregate, and any necessary modifier to achieve high-quality long-life pavement performance.
The compositions of the remaining layers of the Franklin pavement structures vary according to location.
The total estimated amounts of various SUPERPAVE mixes for this project are: 4,450 tons of surface course, 3,700 tons of intermediate course, and 1,450 tons of base course.
This substantial, diverse pavement construction takes place on just 1-1/2 miles of roads. Walsh Contracting is producing all of the SUPERPAVE and other HMA for the pavements using a 300-ton Gencor drum mix asphalt plant operated by an affiliate, Pawtucket Hot Mix Asphalt Inc. The plant is equipped with multiple mix design capabilities and has 600 tons of storage capacity.
Established in 1948 by the late John G. Walsh Sr., Walsh Contracting today is run by third-generation John G. Walsh III. The company not only self-performs earthmoving, excavation and general site work, but manufactures HMA and installs pavements as well. In addition, Walsh owns several other companies including Cumberland Quarry Corp., which is providing the project's crushed stone, and Boro Sand & Stone, which is supplying the gravel and ready-mix concrete.