Project FAQs

What is the goal of this initiative?

At Town Meeting in November 2019, residents voted to conduct a design study as part of the Town’s downtown revitalization project. The Town enlisted VHB, a civil-engineering consulting and design firm, to help conceptualize improved transportation for everyone who travels to or through Wakefield center in cars, on foot, by bus, or on bikes. Voters at the April 2019 Town Meeting approved moving into the second phase of design for this project. With resident and merchant input, these concepts will be used to create plans that can be submitted for state and federal funding.

Why is multimodal transportation so important?

Multimodal transportation systems provide safety and accessibility for all traffic types, including non-vehicular. Streets, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and mixed-use paths could all be components of such an infrastructure. Integrating multimodal best practices is a requirement for Massachusetts Department (MassDOT) funding.

What is the focus area of this project?

The project will center on Wakefield’s downtown. Specifically:
  • Main Street, from Franklin Street to Church Street
  • Albion Street, from Main street to Gould Street
  • Water Street, from Main Street to Shaw’s supermarket
  • Lake Avenue and Spaulding Avenue 
  • Common Street, from Church Street to Main Street 
  • North Avenue, from Main Street to Broadway 
Initial discussions and feedback regarding intersection challenges and parking options have expanded to include side streets off the northern section of Main. View a project map.

How will concepts be created?

VHB has conducted traffic analyses, a road-safety audit, and walking tours to gain an objective, data-driven basis on which to work. Focus groups were conducted throughout the Spring of 2019, both with stakeholder groups—like business owners, community leaders, and town departments—and with the general public. Through these facilitated meetings, VHB gained an understanding of the challenges, opportunities, and ideas our residents and businesses have for the downtown areas. Concepts will be continually refined. 
In addition to project discussion at Town Meetings and in focus groups, the following public meetings were held:
  • July 30, 2020 via Zoom
  • February 11, 2019 at the Galvin Middle School
  • March 21, 2019 at the Galvin Middle School
  • April 9, 2019 at the Americal Civic Center
  • June 18, 2019 at the Americal Civic Center

Where can I see the concept options?

There are PDF versions and supporting video narratives of all five concepts. This process involves continual refinement, and public feedback will be critical as the designs evolve.

I’ve heard the term “urban planning” used during the meetings. Is the goal to make Wakefield more like a big city?

While some tend to associate the word urban with large cities, urban planning is an industry term that refers to the practice of developing the health and vibrancy of communities large and small. It considers physical facilities, transportation systems, natural resources, and the economy when visualizing possibilities for the future. VHB understands the strong history and community character that Wakefield holds and is cognizant that proposals should enhance its charm.

I wasn’t able to attend the public meetings. Can I still participate?

If you’d like to provide feedback, we welcome you to use this interactive form to send comments directly to VHB. 

What was presented at the April 2019 Town Meeting?

Voters at Town Meeting on April 29, 2019 approved moving into the second phase of design for this project. With resident and merchant input, the concepts will be further refined. This will include: creation of a 3D model of the project area to produce geometric plans (horizontal and vertical); design of the roadway pavement; drainage and utility design; landscape architecture; traffic signal design; lighting design; and selection of the streetscape and sidewalk materials at a 25 percent level.
As the design is engineered, the Town will meet with MassDOT to review the project design and prepare the applications for construction funding. Once MassDOT approves the project for eligibility for state and federal construction monies, the preliminary design (25% design) will be submitted to them for review and formal approval.  When the project gets approved at the 25 percent stage, another public meeting will be held to solicit additional input from residents and business owners.
Each stage of the project is engineered further, has more design detail, and seeks additional comments from the Town and MassDOT. Phase one of the design process totaled $331,500 and included a traffic analysis of the downtown area; parking assessment; alternative roadway, sidewalk, and traffic signal configurations; and public meetings. Voters at the April 2019 Town Meeting approved $390,000 to implement phase two. The Town will seek state funding to pay for the construction of the project.  

Will this project extend to other areas, like Greenwood and North Ave?

The current scope of this project is limited to: Main Street, from Franklin Street to Church Street; Albion Street, from Main street to Gould Street; Water Street, from Main Street to Shaw’s supermarket; Lake Avenue and Spaulding Avenue; Common Street, from Church Street to Main Street; and North Avenue, from Main Street to Broadway.

Is parking a component of this project?

VHB has extensive experience conducting parking capacity analyses and planning and engineering parking designs in cities and towns. They will utilize that proficiency when creating project concepts. VHB also has expertise in the types of designs the Commonwealth of Massachusetts typically considers when approving project funding. 
They have carefully analyzed the parking options that currently exist in the downtown area and are conscious of how the concepts could impact the number of spaces Wakefield has. As part of their work, they are investigating new ways to utilize our space.