ADAMS, Mass. — The Traffic Commission approved the traffic circulation plan for the proposed new Cumberland Farms.
The commissioners expressed few concerns over the plan Thursday, and Town Administrator Jay Green noted they haven't really changed much from 2018.
"It is similar to what they have proposed before, and they incorporated some feedback from Community Development," he said. "So there is no concern from staff."
The Westborough-based convenience store chain had proposed to place a new store on Commercial Street between Elm and Prospect streets several years ago. The company ran into opposition in its first attempts to get through the permitting stage and withdrew its application in 2018. It restarted the process early this year.
The chain proposes demolishing Al's Service Center at 95 Commercial St. and two other structures, all owned by Carol Ostrowski, to make way for new construction.
Earlier this March, the project returned before the Conservation Commission. Cumberland Farms representatives presented this same plan but with a smaller profile.
In 2018, the Traffic Commission reviewed the project and gave it high marks. The commission felt the layout would actually make the low-accident area even safer with better lines of sight.
It was a similar story Thursday, and with few questions, the commission wrapped up its meeting with an approval in just under a half-hour.
Traffic Engineer Erin Fredette said the revised traffic study does not use current data likely skewed by COVID-19.
"We didn't want to use data collected during COVID because it is so different," she said. "So we took some slightly older data reflective a typical year we would expect."
She said they worked with the town to map out possible future projects on the roadway.
"We didn't really find anything that would change dramatically in the future," Fredette said. "So we grew our numbers a little bit to account for growth in population but other than that, we didn't make any changes to the volume."
She said the bulk of the store's customers are anticipated to be passersby already on the roadway. The expectation is 30 to 40 new vehicles entering and exiting the gas station during peak hours.
She said it was found that vehicles entering and exiting on the Prospect Street driveway are only anticipated to possibly cause a three to five-second delay. No significant delays are expected on the Commercial Street entrance.
"The Commerical Street delay is well under capacity, and there is more than enough space between vehicles for others to get out," Fredette said.
Commissioner Thomas Satko asked if there would be enough room for vehicles to pass turning vehicles on Commercial Street.
Fredette said with a proposed sidewalk and bike lane, there will not be enough of a shoulder to allow passing traffic. However, she said their study did not indicate that cars would constantly be lined up waiting for a vehicle to turn.
"There is not enough space, but we don't see that kind of problem happening," she said. "That is not to say there will never be a line of cars under certain conditions."
Satko said although this is something he would like to see, he understood it could not be done. He added that, to the town's benefit, it would slow down traffic.
"I do think [cars] will stack up a little because I have seen it," he said. "But it will slow traffic down where they go too fast."
Fredette said lines of sight will be improved with stopping time for cars traveling up to 55 miles per hour.
"Knowing cars can sometimes go over the speed limit we wanted to make sure there was sufficient sight distance at potentially higher speeds," she said.
As for deliveries, Fredette said gas deliveries will always come through the Prospect Street entrance. She said most food deliveries would likely come the same way.
Attorney Tom Reidy, representing Cumberland Farms said their next stop is the Zoning Board of Appeals for a special permit for 24-hour operation. In April, they will go to the Planning Board for site plan approval.
He said Cumberland Farms was excited to be part of the rezoned stretch of road.
"The town rezoned that area to clean it up and become a little more commercial-friendly," he said. "We are excited to be the first permitted business in that area."