Roadway Revitalization Stimulates Economic Growth for Winchendon
The Town of Winchendon is getting back to its roots by re-energizing a downtown hub. Working with Tighe & Bond and MassDOT, the town reconstructed Central Street (Route 202) between Front Street and Maple Street. The project provides a safe, accessible, and multi-modal corridor with the goal of spurring economic growth in downtown Winchendon.
The town has a rich industrial past with woodworking being at the center of local manufacturing enterprises. The business community’s expansion into the creation of furniture and wooden toys earned Winchendon the nickname “Toy Town” at the turn of the 20th Century. Wanting to see the town flourish like in years past, local leaders began investing in important infrastructure.
Calling on the Experts
Since 2004, Tighe & Bond has been the Town’s on-call engineer and completed a variety of projects across most of the firm’s discipline areas. This project has included the full reconstruction of several roadways, with Central Street being the most recent, completed this past June. The existing conditions of Central Street and underlying utilities had deteriorated and no longer met the needs of the community. Preliminary assessments of this roadway began in 2015, and Tighe & Bond engineers soon designed a new vision for the main corridor that would accommodate pedestrians, bicycles, and motor vehicles while replacing the subsurface utilities.
Balancing Aesthetics and Functionality
The design covered the full-depth reconstruction of the roadway with changes to the curb lines and a minor shift of the centerline of the road. The introduction of streetscape features and complete streets elements improve both safety and aesthetics of Central Street.
Central Street now includes two sidewalks, two bicycle lanes, two travel lanes, and one parking lane. The new cross-section improves safety and accessibility for all users and enhances the community’s existing resources, such as downtown businesses and the North Central Pathway. The new sidewalks include Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant grades and curb cut ramps to ensure that downtown is accessible to all, including an aging population in Winchendon.
New signage and pavement markings were installed to improve roadway safety operations. Pavement markings include a double yellow centerline and single white edge lines to separate the travel lanes from the bicycle lanes and the parking lane. The new signage meets current state and federal standards, including readability and retro-reflectivity. In addition, pedestrian rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFBs) were installed at strategic locations to alert motor vehicle operators when a pedestrian intends to cross the street.
New ornamental street lighting was installed to provide a uniform and effective system with aesthetic value. Various amenities, such as bicycle racks, benches, trash receptacles, and a transit shelter were thoughtfully placed to enhance the roadway corridor and provide a sense of place. Plantings and landscape elements were introduced on the corridor where space allowed. Traffic calming measures, such as pedestrian bump-outs, were used to help control motor vehicle speed and improve safety at crosswalks.
Underneath the surface of the road, utilities were replaced to increase the reliability of the sanitary sewer and public water supply, as well as improve the collection and treatment capabilities of the storm drain system. To enhance treatment capabilities, new storm drains were installed and have several Best Management Practices (BMPs), including catch basins with deep sumps and hoods and strategically sited stormwater treatment units (SWTUs).
Funding the Revitalization
A vital part of Tighe & Bond’s role in working with the Town of Winchendon is to help obtain funding to keep these projects moving. After preliminary review and planning was completed, this project was identified as a strong candidate for the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), administered by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). Working with the Town, Tighe & Bond completed the project initiation process and was successful in helping the Town secure project approval and TIP listing. The final construction cost was approximately $4.8 million. In addition to the primary TIP funding, Tighe & Bond helped the Town secure approximately $400,000 in grant dollars from the MassDOT Complete Streets program for the reconstruction of the intersection of Central Street and Maple Street at the north end of the project.
Additional projects that tie into Central Street, including the reconstruction of Walnut Street and Chestnut Street, were designed and constructed through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program during the development of the Central Street project. CDBG grants are federally funded and designed to help underserved communities meet community development needs such as infrastructure, revitalization, and economic development.
A Vibrant Future for Winchendon
The Central Street reconstruction project is at the center of the Town’s focus to revitalize their local economy and provide a downtown experience residents can be proud to call their own.
“It looks great on Central Street. Tighe & Bond’s long-time partnership with our community streamlined the process of redesigning downtown because they understood what Winchendon needed for infrastructure and aesthetics. We are so pleased to see our vision come to life,” said Brian Croteau, Winchendon DPW Director.
The successful project has drastically changed the look and feel of downtown Winchendon while providing accommodation for all users through a focus on ADA compliance and multi-modal accommodation. New streetscape elements add to the livability of downtown. The infrastructure improvements will provide the backbone for continued future growth and economic development in “Toy Town.”