By Laura Hayes, Contributing Writer
SHREWSBURY — Traffic and traffic concerns were a common theme of a Shrewsbury Planning Board meeting June 17 to discuss a potential development on the Centech Park North property on the corner of Route 20 and South Street.
“In rush hour traffic, it’s going to be a mess,” said resident Ed Giordano.
Resident David Singer, likewise, pointed out that the project’s developer, NorthBridge, is already proposing a separate warehouse in Boylston.
“It seems like that you guys are proposing an awful lot of loading dock logistics space very close to each other,” Singer said.
The developers said a tenant has not yet been identified for their project at Centech. Responding to that, Singer asked about the viability of the project, adding that it would be a “shame” if the buildings were left vacant.
“If I was a business owner looking for logistics distribution space, I’d use the other spot based on the traffic alone here,” Singer said, referencing that Boylston development.
Some residents expressed a hope that there isn’t a development on the Centech site at all. Singer suggested that NorthBridge use the land, which is also known as the Allen Property, as conservation space. It could also use the parcel’s historic barn for office parties, he said.
“Send those trucks to Boylston,” Singer added.
NorthBridge wants to construct a campus which would include two warehouses and an office building.
Traffic engineer Rebecca Brown said NorthBridge’s development is estimated to generate less traffic compared to other proposed developments on the site.
There would be two entrances — one for cars off South Street and one for all traffic off Route 20.
NorthBridge is anticipating 774 daily trips, including 93 trips during the peak traffic morning hour and 95 during the peak evening hour.
She said NorthBridge has several ideas — like onsite bicycle racks and sidewalks — to help reduce traffic generated from the site.
A traffic study was conducted, and Brown said it indicated that there would be a maximum of an 11-second delay at the intersections that were studied.
The traffic counts were collected before the pandemic in 2018 and 2019. Brown said that traffic volume has been estimated to grow by 0.5 percent per-year through 2028. As such, this study took into account data from other projects like the Edgemere Crossing at Flint Pond.
She added that another study would be conducted once the buildings are occupied.
Brown anticipated that the developers will be meeting with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation on June 22. Shrewsbury has been invited to attend that meeting.
She said that, if MassDOT restricts the developments’ access — like requiring no left turns — that wouldn’t impact their traffic operations.
Planning Board member Purna Rao agreed that NorthBridge’s development would have less of an impact than some alternatives. However, he expressed concern about trucks being able to turn left into the site from Route 20.
Brown said there were other ways the drivers could get to the entrance, like turning onto South Street from Route 9 and turning right onto Route 20, or using the Route 9 and Route 20 interchange.
Typically warehouses schedule deliveries during off-peak hours, with truck traffic usually happening before 3 p.m., Brown said. She anticipated the drivers would be able to make that turn off Route 20 during these off-peak hours.
Planning Board member Timothy Jarry, however, said he appreciated that there were other ways to get into the site.
“I think, practically, people driving trucks are not going to want to waste the time to do that,” Jarry added.