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Town Officials, Residents Review Traffic Plans for Milford Casino

The proposed 3-mile collector-distributor road system for the Foxwoods Massachusetts casino is estimated by the developer to cost $100 million.

Foxwoods Massachusetts development officials say 91 percent of the traffic will come from I-495.
Foxwoods Massachusetts development officials say 91 percent of the traffic will come from I-495.
The proposed Foxwoods Massachusetts casino would draw 91 percent of its traffic from cars traveling on I-495, the developer's transportation engineers said Wednesday.

On the peak days for casino visitors, the total casino traffic initially will reach 22,700 on Fridays and 29,745 car trips on Saturdays. The traffic impact and analysis study discussed Wednesday, in a meeting at Milford High School, states that those volumes will reach 29,700 on Fridays and 36,800 on Saturdays if the gaming resort is expanded to include more tables and other attractions.

State data shows that I-495 now counts about 93,250 cars on Fridays, and 67,350 on Saturdays.

The project will impact local roads, to a lesser extent. Most affected will be Route 16 from Milford into Holliston, according to the traffic engineers. Because a new link to the highway will be created there, that area of Route 16 will have traffic increases of as much as 415 more cars an hour.

The experts say that because of that new Route 16 access, traffic will be removed from other key intersections in Milford, including up to 90 trips an hour taken off Fortune Boulevard/Route 85/Dilla Street.

The traffic study counts vehicle trips — the number of cars coming and going.

The traffic analysis was the result of a collaborative process between the developer's transportation engineer, Tetra Tech, and the town's consultant, Tighe & Bond, whose director of traffic said the report "appropriately evaluates current and future conditions" for the casino project. 

Tighe & Bond conducted a peer-analysis of the traffic impact report over a six-week period, said Joseph Balskus, its director of traffic and parking.

The Foxwoods Massachusetts report is available here. The peer evaluation report prepared by the town's consultant is available here.

Both the developer's traffic expert and the town's consultant agree that most casino visitors will use the highway, because most of the potential customers live at least 30 minutes away from Milford. The traffic counts for the casino are derived based on the population in the region older than age 21, and the number of seats at tables and casino games in the facility.
 
The region expected to produce traffic for the Milford casino includes about half of Rhode Island, portions of Connecticut and southern New Hampshire and the area of Massachusetts that includes Worcester, Lowell, Boston and other points within about an hour's drive, according to a development map.

Because the potential customers are traveling from so far away, they are expected to use the highway to access the casino, both consultants said.

Initially, Balskus said, he was skeptical that the casino would have such a small impact on local roads — with less than 10 percent of the traffic coming from any other place than the highway. Balskus is the lead engineer for the West Springfield casino project, working for the developer in that case. And in that project, 20 percent of the traffic will come on local roads.

But he said Wednesday that the towns within a 30 minute drive of Milford are relatively small, or somewhat rural, and will not produce the traffic for local roads.

"It made sense," he said.

The proposed access to the site is two-fold. The casino developer will build what is called a collector-distributor road system along I-495, extending for three miles, that would connect existing interchanges at Route 109 and Route 85 to the road, and then carry cars bound for or exiting the casino onto an access that would go over the existing interstate.

The collector-distributor roads, one on each side of the highway, to capture southbound and northbound traffic, will be separated from the highway by barriers.

Construction would consume land in the center median of the highway, to make room for the additional lanes of traffic. The outer footprint of the highway, then, would not change.

Once on casino property, the access road would connect through a link to Route 16, because federal highway requirements will not allow a dedicated access road to a private development. The connection to Route 16 will create a new direct link to the highway, and generate additional traffic on that road, engineers agreed. According to the developer's engineer, most of the new traffic would not be bound for the casino, but would be people realizing they have a direct access to I-495 from Route 16, and would use the casino's collector-distributor roads to get on it.

Milford Selectmen and residents asked questions of the traffic experts for more than an hour. In their questions, several residents asked whether steps were being taken to erect sound barriers along the highway.

Steve Pepe, who lives on Virginia Drive in Milford, off Route 109, said that to him and his neighbors, an analysis that 91 percent of the traffic will come from I-495 is not  good news. The access plan means that a 6-lane highway near their homes will become a 10-lane road, he said. "We are looking for a sound barrier," he said.

Steve Trettel, a leader of Casino Free Milford, an opposition group to the casino, pointed out that the materials, including the casino's traffic impact report, were not made available to most of the people attending the meeting until the afternoon before. How will a "30 to 50 percent increase in additional cars" on I-495 impact residents, he asked.

"Give us a clear, summary ... of what that traffic impact means," he said.
Ray Fellows July 12, 2013 at 08:12 AM
Can always cant on Sal for a laugh. I know he is only trying to rile people up. Why are we wasting so much time talking about this, there will NEVER be a casino in Milford, NEVER. We'll talk about it and talk about it then another towns name will popup and it will end up their
Sal Roque July 12, 2013 at 08:21 PM
Roger, Regarding your comment (RogerWilco July 11, 2013 at 09:41 pm) "One of the local residents asked a question at the end of last night’s presentation about about the larger issue of traffic in Milford. He mentioned the hospital expansion, the recent demolition near one of the churches on Main St. and the assisted living home on 109. Is there other new construction planned in Milford? (aside form the casino, that is)", I have been saying all along that it does not appear to me that the anti-casino movement has any issue with traffic, water or any other town related issue. My first post on the Patch also mentioned the Assisted Living facility and other construction and I mentioned that no one had ever complained about any of that. You put all the construction together for the last 10 to 15 years(?) - 6 hotels, many large residential developments, many industrial and business parks, many shopping centers and on and on - and that makes the casino development look insignificant in terms of infrastructure impact as well as traffic. I won't even mention the surrounding towns, including Franklin, Bellingham and Hopkinton with its gigantic industrial park. Did any antii-casino people complain about that? Did any of those businesses offer to put $100 million on a highway improvement? In conclusion, it looks to me that the Anti-Casino movement is really about disliking the casino for whatever personal reasons and having nothing to do with concerns about any impact on infrasture in Milford... And that is fair too! But please, they should STOP BEATING AROUND THE BUSH and tell us what they want so maybe we could all get together and help. Let's look at it like people of discernment that we all can be, when we want to be. Cities and towns have been growing. There is nothing wrong with that. But, we cannot sit by the sidelines and watch it happen and do nothing to help support the growth. Wishing that our little town will continue to be that small little village that saw us grow up or grow old may not always be the best thing to do. I don't think I really really know what I am talking about, but, based on what I have observerd lately, my guts feeling of an ordinary resident (not an expert opinion) tell me that we, Milford, are at the "point of no return." We are like a plane (not necessarily a jetplane) that is taking off. I always heard that a take-off cannot be aborted as it would result in a crash. Go drive around Milford and look around and look back ten years and tell me if you see what I see. We need to simply find solutions to all the challenges of a growing population - Milford and surrounding towns - and not distract ourselves from the real issues by pointing fingers at developers or businesses that are coming to town looking to make some money themselves, but that, in the process, could help and participate in a well structured growth of the place we call home. We must move ahead and welcome progress. Otherwise we would just be inviting a crash or stagnation or both. That's what I think. You, who may the experts tell me what you think.
Ray Fellows July 12, 2013 at 09:07 PM
Another amusing commentary from Sal. :0 There will NEVER be a casino in Milford, isnt going to happen.
Sal Roque July 13, 2013 at 09:18 PM
Ray, I know!... I, myself am amazed that such peculiar ideas could ever have come from my own mind! Well, all that matters is that you liked it. Be well.

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