FITCHBURG -- Improving intersections to enter or exit Route 2 could be a key to addressing traffic issues and improving safety, state transportation officials told leaders from around the region Friday.
"Beyond the (Concord) rotary, the primary pinch points are the intersections," said state Department of Transportation District 4 Highway Director Paul Stedman, whose district starts in Concord and stretches to Cambridge.
He and District 3 Director Barry Lorion, whose district encompasses Central Massachusetts, met with members of the North Central Route 2 Transportation Task Force who pitched the need for improvements for the highway.
"We are really interested in what you have to say," Lorion told those in attendance.
Another fix the task force has talked about to alleviate traffic in the region could be to get rid of the Concord rotary.
Improvements have been proposed to replace the rotary with an interchange and bridge over Route 2 to relocate Commonwealth Avenue to the intersection of Routes 2A and 119.
The project is in early design stages and hasn't been included in the region's long range transportation plan, Stedman said. Getting the project listed as a priority would make it eligible for funding, but there are other transportation projects around the state and in the district that are competing for money.
Fixing the Concord rotary is a priority, Stedman said.
"A lot of this is trying to create some order out there," Stedman said.
Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella, who serves on the MassDOT board, said it could be good to reach out to communities around the rotary to come up with a plan.
Focusing westward on the North Central region, Fitchburg Mayor Stephen DiNatale asked about what could be done to improve traffic on South Street and Merriam Avenue leading onto Route 2 in Fitchburg.
DiNatale referenced a design to install a roundabout to enter Route 2 on Merriam Avenue, which was drafted by S.J. Mullaney Engineering. Its president, Steve Mullaney, who also serves as chairman of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, was in attendance.
Lorion said there are opportunities for better signage on that road.
An area in Fitchburg MassDOT is interested in is Mt. Elam Road and its traffic signal, he said.
Lorion and Stedman also gave the task force updates about MassDOT's Route 2 projects in the works.
In Leominster, a $5.6 million project would widen and reconstruct intersections on Route 13 from Hawes Street. It's expected to be advertised for construction at the end of the year.
Route 2A and Route 140 in Westminster would receive upgrades to manage traffic more efficiently, be safer, and add bike accommodations.
Gardner's roundabout at the intersection of Route 2 and Route 68 will be modernized with improved signs and pedestrian paths.
An interchange improvement project in Lancaster in the preliminary design phase would relocate one of the ramps at Exit 34 heading eastbound.
In both districts, previous projects along Route 2 have included bridge replacements and intersection reconstruction.
Rep. Jon Zlotnik, D-Gardner, said he is hopeful about the smaller projects and the potential to improve travel on Route 2.
"Even if Concord is heavy lifting and will take time, the little things will help," he said.
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