State officials are looking for feedback on two design alternatives that would either install roundabouts or traffic signals at the Route 2A bridge over Interstate 95/Route 128 in Lexington near Hanscom Air Force Base.
The two alternatives, still in a preliminary design phase, are being considered as part of a $20.5 million project to replace the bridge.
The work at the bridge on Route 2A, or Marrett Road, is not scheduled to begin until 2015, but the state Department of Transportation will hold a hearing Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Lexington’s Cary Memorial Hall to discuss the project and gather feedback about the design proposals.
The state is also considering eliminating two of the four loop ramps at the I-95 interchange in an effort to improve the flow of traffic and safety of vehicles entering and exiting the highway, according to the Department of Transportation.
Michael Verseckes, a spokesman for the state agency, said the area has a high volume of traffic on a daily basis, and while the department cannot do much about the number of vehicles, it can try to simplify the traffic patterns.
“That is an overcomplicated area and a high-enough number of ramps that it’s a bit problematic for drivers,” said Verseckes.
Monica Tibbits, executive director of the nonprofit 128 Business Council, said traffic along the highway is well above capacity and rush hours are especially bad. Navigating highway exits that were designed years ago before the traffic was so heavy can be puzzling, she said.
“The confusion causes people to just stop,” she said.
Tibbits said she has not seen the design alternatives for the Route 2A interchange, but a project completed by the state last fall in Waltham that reconfigured the exit ramp pattern at the Winter Street/Totten Pond Road interchange on I-95/Route 128 has helped ease congestion.
“Streamlining some of those exits really can help,” she said.
Under one design alternative for the Route 2A interchange, the state would eliminate a loop ramp exiting from Route 2A westbound to I-95 south.
Vehicles traveling westbound on Route 2A would instead use the same ramp to I-95 south that is used by eastbound vehicles on Route 2A. A new traffic signal would be installed at the intersection of the ramp and Route 2A to manage the flow.
The same proposal would also eliminate a loop ramp from the eastbound side of Route 2A exiting to I-95 north. Eastbound traffic on Route 2A would instead begin using the same ramp to I-95 north as westbound traffic, and a new traffic signal would also be installed at that intersection.
A second proposal being considered would eliminate the same two loop ramps, reconfigure several other ramps, and create roundabouts on Route 2A at both the east and western sides of I-95 to manage traffic getting on or off the interstate.
Verseckes said the design alternative that includes traffic lights would retain two lanes of travel on both the east and westbound sides of the bridge. The working design for the roundabout would eliminate one of the two eastbound lanes on the bridge.
He said the state will also be adding accommodations for pedestrians and cyclists to the design alternatives, and the two proposals can still be expanded upon and improved.
“We do want to take the temperature of people who are going to be using this on a daily basis,” he said.
Lexington Selectman Hank Manz said Wednesday that there had been no specific talks internally or between the town and the state about the Route 2A bridge replacement project. Manz is also the town’s representative on the 128 Central Corridor Coalition, which he said has been discussing the impact of redevelopment at the old Polaroid facility in Waltham.
“What Lexington has noticed is that we are seeing an increase in cut-through traffic, which I assume is trying to avoid 128 congestion,” Manz said in an e-mail.
Chuck Paone, a spokesman for Hanscom Air Force Base, said the base’s civil engineering department hasn’t heard a lot of complaints from motorists who travel to the base using the Route 2A exit from I-95.
The exit is about 2.5 miles from the base’s Vandenberg Gate, but Paone said engineers hear more complaints about traffic leading up to its entrance off Hartwell Avenue.
Verseckes said the state does not yet have an estimate for how long the bridge work will take. He said that in all likelihood, the bridge reconstruction will be done in stages to allow for traffic to flow in both directions while the work is underway.