A wide-ranging study of the Mashpee rotary concluded earlier this month with recommendations to improve safety by retrofitting the rotary with increased striping and signage and by improving pedestrian and bike paths near the five-way intersection.
Any implementation of the recommendations made in the 66-page final report published by the Cape Cod Commission on June 11 would be made by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, said Colleen Medeiros, a project coordinator with the commission.
Ms. Medeiros said that the commission, MassDOT and the Town of Mashpee are interested in a project to retrofit the rotary but that “it is not going to happen overnight” and the project, which would again seek public input, remains “at least five or six years out.”
The study of the rotary—which included community input through multiple forums—explored options such as replacing the rotary with a smaller roundabout, creating a Route 28 overpass at the rotary, and replacing the rotary with a four-way intersection and traffic signal.
“We heard ‘keep the circular intersection,’ that’s what the public felt strongly about,” Ms. Medeiros said. She noted, “The local residents appreciate the Christmas lights at the rotary.”
The rotary—where Great Neck Road South, Route 28, Route 151 and Great Neck Road North intersect—was chosen for the study due to pedestrian safety and the amount of congestion and crashes that happen at the location.
A crash analysis included in the final report found that between 2012 and 2016 a total of 128 crashes occurred at the rotary, 25 of which involved injuries.
“We looked at all the crashes and saw they weren’t high injury, more like fender benders,” Ms. Medeiros said. “That is how it came down that maybe we don’t need a major project, just a retrofit.”
Still, more than 30,000 vehicles can transverse the rotary on an average summer day, according to a study conducted at the site in 2018 and 2019.
A rotary retrofit that includes signage, striping to indicate two lanes, and some widening of the roadways could help reduce congestion at the rotary and would be a low-cost solution with minimal impact on the surrounding properties, the report said.
“The retrofit would be an ideal solution,” said Mashpee Town Planner Evan Lehrer. “The Department of Transportation likes to invest in efficient and low-cost solutions to these problems and I think the retrofit is something they’ve seen succeed in other communities.”
Ms. Medeiros noted that the report also recommends bicycle and pedestrian accommodations near the rotary, which she described as a “pinch point” for nonmotorists.
She said that the improvements could include a widened shoulder along the rotary but “ideally I think it would be a shared-use path” for bikes and pedestrians.
With its current design, Ms. Medeiros said, the rotary forces bicyclists to ride through the parking lots of the adjacent businesses rather than attempt to navigate with motorists through the circle.
Mr. Lehrer noted the existing sidewalks and shared-use paths and described the rotary as the “missing piece of the puzzle right now.”
“The rotary is geographically centered in town, the pathways that do exist are either inefficient or there is lack of knowledge about it,” he said.
“I think one thing that municipalities in Massachusetts and around the country realize is we accommodate a substantial amount of space to vehicular transport,” the Mashpee town planner said. “Bike and pedestrian improvements can only better protect the community.”
Ms. Medeiros said that bike and pedestrian accommodations would help fulfill the Cape Cod Commission’s “vision to improve regional connectivity for nonmotorists” and noted that the “Mashpee Commons is very walkable.”
The Commons, the commercial center of town, lies just west of the rotary and has preliminary plans to develop land it owns east of the rotary as well.
The rotary study did not confine itself to the immediate area around the rotary but explored options for improving congestion and safety in the area with improvements to subsidiary intersections off each of the five main roads that meet at the rotary.
Congestion and safety at the intersection just past the rotary where Great Neck Road North meets with Old Barnstable Road could be improved with the installation of a roundabout or traffic signal.
The intersection of Great Neck Road South and Donna’s Lane has “a lot of left turns heading back toward the rotary,” Ms. Medeiros said. Diverting traffic toward Route 28 where vehicles can make a right turn, rather than a left turn as they would off Great Neck Road South, could provide a safer alternative for vehicles headed toward the rotary, she said.
Enhancement to the turning lanes near where Donna’s Lane and Jobs Fishing Road intersect with Route 28 could also help improve congestion and safety, the report said.
The report also contemplates improving transit routes for public transportation and creating pull-offs near commercial plazas for buses and shuttles.
A rotary retrofit, which is listed in the report as “high priority,” could be eligible for federal funding through the Cape Cod Commission’s regional transportation improvement program Ms. Medeiros said.
“We are hoping to move this project forward,” Ms. Medeiros said. “There will continue to be outreach if it does.”