A traffic study carried out on the proposed Beauport Gloucester hotel by a Watertown consulting firm says that project will have a limited impact on Commercial Street traffic.
Developer Beauport Gloucester LLC submitted the traffic study, carried out by Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. of Watertown, as part of its City Council special permit packet. The study reviewed traffic on Commercial Street and other nearby intersections in July and last October; it also suggested several improvements to roadways near the project.
Vanasse’s study states hotel traffic would wouldn’t add much to traffic on Commercial Street and come at off-peak hours. The road conditions, from inadequate signage to lack of well defined lanes, have more to do with the traffic flow, it states.
“Site (hotel)-generated traffic represents a small fraction of the total traffic flow through the area,” Vanasse’s study states. “ … Field observations indicate that the lack of well defined lanes … traffic control, combined with … closely spaced intersections, heavy traffic volumes and long pedestrian crosswalks contribute to poor traffic operation in the area under existing conditions.”
Beauport Gloucester LLC, owned by New Balance owner James Davis and Cruiseport Gloucester’s Sheree DeLorenzo, applied for its special permit for a new hotel last week in the newly created hotel overlay zone covering the site of the former Birdseye building. The company plans to build a 101-guest room, 61-foot tall, $20 million to $25 million hotel on the site.
With the hotel will come some planned infrastructure improvements, but how those improvements are financed, said John Cunningham, the project’s attorney, will take a lot of thought and negotiation. Cunningham could not be reached for comment on this story.
Vanasse’s study expects 750 feet of Commercial Street west of Birdseye will be rebuilt, with new curbing, markings, signs and sidewalks. The study also recommends better markings and signs and reduced lane widths at intersections from Commercial to Angle Street.
The hotel and hotel project’s impact on Commercial Street businesses and Fort Square residents, said Michael Faherty, an attorney representing Mortillaro’s Lobster, isn’t clear yet.
“We’ve preliminarily read the plan and it raises significant issues for us, but we’re not in a position to take a position until we have more details,” Faherty said. Those details, he said, will emerge as the City Council and Planning Board review Beauport Gloucester LLC’s proposal. The council’s Planning and Development Subcommittee will meet to discuss Beauport’s proposal at its meeting Wednesday night.
The Vanasse study counted cars for its morning peak traffic on weekdays from 7 a.m to 9 a.m and evening peak traffic from 4 p.m to 6 p.m. On Saturday peak traffic was counted from 11 a.m to 1 p.m. Commercial Street’s early-morning truck traffic from businesses like Ocean Crest and Neptune’s Harvest, Intershell and Mortillaro’s Lobster starts earlier.
Truck traffic starts between 4 a.m and 5 a.m. and runs until between 9 p.m and 10 p.m, the study states.
Commercial Street sees around 1,880 vehicles per day, according to the study, with about 110 per hour at the weekday morning peak and 100 per hour at the weekday evening peak. The Beauport Hotel will generate between 530 and 745 daily back and forth trips and around 40-75 back and forth trips per hour at peak hours.
The Vanasse study reviewed traffic patterns from from Kent Circle to Fort Square, including Tally’s Corner and the intersections of Washington, Middle, Angle and Main Streets. It proposes a host of improvements for them as well.
“The identified deficiencies and vehicular congestion can be expected to continue in the future, independent of the project, if traffic improvements are not implemented,” the study states.
The study doesn’t lay out who ought to pay for those improvements. But beyond that, said Faherty, he’s not sure any improvements on Commercial Street can happen until the city finds the initial layout and taking documents for the road. Those documents would show when Commercial Street became a public road and what it’s engineering specifics, like width, are. He said his office has not been able to find them.
“The starting point is a layout,” Faherty said, “until we get past that point as to where the actual road is it’s very hard to have the rest of the discussion.”
Steven Fletcher can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3455, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenGDT