Cars crowd into the Route 2 rotary in Concord as rush hour nears. File photo

Missing from MassDOT’s suggested rotary fixes – the option of using MCI-Concord land  

February 22, 2024

Since the Route 2 corridor study began in 2019, the stretch between Fitchburg and Boston has been thoroughly examined: high crash areas, congested zones, portions that might be improved with additional lanes.  

The question MassDOT has been asked more than anything else: what can be done about the Concord rotary?  

“It’s the largest area of concern,” said Neil Boudreau, assistant administrator for traffic and safety for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Highway Division, who led a virtual forum last week on the study.  

MassDOT graphic of proposed alternatives to the existing Rte. 2 rotary.

From Route 2 West, the rotary has exits on Commonwealth Avenue, Route 2 East, Barretts Mill Road, and Route 2A. Traffic backs up as drivers attempt to navigate into the correct lanes while dodging cars already in the circle; near-misses and accidents happen frequently.  

Some of the proposed solutions include:  

  • A “thru-about,” retaining the rotary while creating a “flyover” for Route 2;  
  • Various iterations of signals to allow Route 2 to continue straight while creating links and turning lanes between 2A, Commonwealth Avenue, and Route 2.  

Not included: any solutions involving MCI-Concord, which the state will permanently shut down at the end of June. MassDOT was not informed about the closure until Gov. Maura Healey announced it in early February.  

“The opening of the land at MCI does present some capabilities that we might not have had, had that remained a viable, you know, prison area,” Boudreau said.  

Select Board member Mary Hartman admitted the large amount of information presented during the meeting was overwhelming.  

“I’m concerned about the whole corridor, but I’m more concerned about what’s going to happen specifically within Concord, especially at the rotary,” Mary Hartman said.  

MassDOT graphic of proposed changes to 9 Acre Corner.

Proposed changes to intersections within Concord include:  

  • Tracey’s Corner: Minor pavement widening to develop a left-turn lane onto Route 2 from Bedford Road, as well as a sidewalk and buffered bike lane on the road.  
  • Walden Street (Route 126): Extending an island to shorten pedestrian crossing, changing an exclusive right-turn lane into a thru right-turn lane, a buffered bike lane, and a sidewalk.  
  • Sudbury Street: Pavement widening for a third lane, changes to turn lanes, and a proposed bicycle lane.  
  • Old Road to 9 Acre Corner: Adjustment to pavement markings to make a thru right-turn lane, a proposed sidewalk, and a bicycle lane.  
MassDOT graphic of proposed changes at the Sudbury Road crossing.

Boudreau said the changes would help keep travelers on Route 2 instead of bypassing problem areas by cutting through side streets.  

“We want traffic on the state highway and not cutting through the local neighborhood networks,” he said. “As part of the study, the project team presented some level of prioritization of the alternatives based on the upfront goals that we set to improve safety and mobility for all.”   

MassDOT graphic of proposed changes to the Walden Street crossing at Route 2.

Mark Gailus, who sits on the Transportation Advisory Committee, expressed concern about potential negative environmental impacts.  

“I’m speaking for myself here,” Gailus said. “I think it’s very important in thinking; I can say even considering any third lane additions to consider negative impacts on natural resources. High cost and also possibly negative safety impacts.” 

MassDOT graphic of proposed changes at the intersection of Bedford Road.

In several intersections, there are suggested pedestrian and bicycle crossing changes, he noted.  

“Going from four lanes to six lanes is going to make crossings longer for pedestrians and cyclists and light cycles are already too short, both for automobiles and for pedestrians and for cyclists crossing there’s already concerns about that,” Gailus said. 

The complete study from MassDOT will be released in March.