HUDSON — While it already has been the subject of intense study and planning by city officials, the Downtown Phase II project is now undergoing another review.
Downtown Phase II — now known as The District — is being developed by Testa Companies, which is proposing office space, residential housing, a 30- to 40-room boutique hotel, a 350-car parking deck, preserved green space, a walking trail in the northwest portion and mixed-use zoning throughout, from office-commercial to multi-family residential.
Traffic flow and parking needs are two major issues now being assessed in connection with the project.
TMS Engineers Inc. are performing a traffic study, while Walker Parking Consultants is doing a parking examination for The District. Hudson City Engineer Thomas Sheridan said the studies are underway and are expected to be finished in February 2018. Here is a closer look at some of the issues that the consultants are examining.
"The city’s goal is to preserve the charm of neighborhoods like Owen Brown Street by using traffic calming techniques throughout the project," the city's website states. "Numerous options are being considered; however, infrastructure and traffic calming solutions will not be determined until the study has been completed."
With the study that started in October, TMS is evaluating the existing and proposed traffic patterns within the downtown business sector, as well as potential impacts to neighborhoods and intersections, according to the city's website.
TMS is performing two sub-studies involving Owen Brown Street.
City Manager Jane Howington said Owen Brown Street from North Main Street to Morse Road has many historic homes along it and there is a concern that it would become a "cut-through" from Main Street to the area planned for Downtown Phase II. One sub-study will analyze "the existing conditions and potential impacts" of the new development on this part of Owen Brown, according to the city’s Request for Proposal. The sub-study is designed to "determine if traffic calming features, road closure option, or realignment/signage at [the] west end may be needed to minimize any increase in traffic …," the RFP stated.
The other sub-study addresses an area west of the Downtown Phase II site where Owen Brown travels underneath railroad tracks owned by Norfolk Southern. Howington said the underpass is "really not wide enough for two cars at one time and it’s certainly not wide enough for two cars and a sidewalk."
"As the area gets more populated and [there are] more car trips, that’s a bottleneck that we have to do something with," Howington said.
The second sub-study will analyze "the potential impacts" of the development on that underpass. This examination will, the RFP stated, evaluate issues such as "the potential of a separate pedestrian tunnel; signalized, one-way, two-directional traffic at this underpass; possible signage; low bridge warning devices due to bridge hit numerous times by trucks; estimated costs and requirements by railroad to expanding the underpass to accommodate the required lane widths…"
According to the RFP, some of the other issues being studied by TMS include:
1. Working with the Hudson Police Department to compile vehicle crash history for the last three years for many intersections;
2. Compiling vehicle, bike and pedestrian traffic counts and turning movement counts during times of high traffic volume for several intersections to determine which may need traffic signals;
3. Evaluate the development’s impact on adjacent roads and intersections;
4. Review potential residential neighborhood impacts and the effects on intersections, and examine options to address the impacts;
5. Review issues such as number of lanes needed, traffic calming needs, signal warrants, signage, roadway widths, type of roadway materials, islands, boulevards and roundabouts.
Walker Parking Consultants are studying the existing and proposed parking needs and making recommendations for N. Main Street and Streetsboro Street; the First and Main mixed use development; and the proposed Downtown Phase II/The District area, according to the city’s website.
According to the RFP, Walker is being asked to:
1. interview stakeholders;
2. review the walking and parking patterns of merchants, employees and visitors to downtown at various times of day;
3. review the city's enforcement practices, signage and punitive fees;
4. review the arrangement between the city and the First and Main development, as well as Heinen's grocery store's practices regarding employee parking and the ownership of parking lots.
5. review parking maps, studies, as well as parts of the city's comprehensive plan, land development code, the Downtown Phase II concept plan, an inventory map of existing parking locations and business surveys completed by the city.