The Massachusetts Department of Transportation recently announced that it is extending the Road Diet Pilot Project that is currently taking place on Main Street, Route 28, in Reading.
The pilot, which began in late April and was originally scheduled to conclude this fall, will now be extended through the winter months into 2021 to allow a more comprehensive sampling of data to be collected and evaluated during future time frames when traffic volumes may be more comparatively aligned to pre-COVID-19 levels.
The impacts of COVID-19 on traffic volumes and patterns in Reading and across the commonwealth have been significant. Although traffic volumes have continued to increase as a result of the phased reopening in the commonwealth, MassDOT wants to make sure that traffic data and public input being collected on the pilot are accurate and representative of future traffic conditions. While MassDOT expects that final lane configurations will be determined and installed in Spring 2021, exact dates will depend on weather and traffic conditions.
MassDOT plans to announce the results of the pilot evaluation and determine final lane configurations in March 2021. If it is determined that safety is not improved and traffic impacts reach unacceptable levels for an extended period of time, the lane configurations will be returned to the original pre-pilot conditions after the pilot evaluation period ends and the final pavement surface and permanent pavement markings are installed.
Road diets are proven safety countermeasures that reduce the number of conflict points and make travel safer for all roadway users. A study conducted by the Federal Highway Administration found that four-lane to three-lane road diets reduce the total number of crashes by 19-47%. Some road diets have shown an even greater improvement as much as a 70% reduction in crashes along a single stretch of road.
The road diet pilot on Main Street will reconfigure travel lanes within the existing roadway to create a center left-turn lane along the corridor and dedicated left-turn lanes at signalized intersections. This reconfiguration of travel lanes will simplify turning movements for cars, help provide more consistent traffic flow and reduce the likelihood of severe crashes and injuries for drivers and pedestrians.
For information, visit https://mass.gov/route-28-in-reading-resurfacing-and-road-diet-pilot.