Column: Three new West Concord developments add up to traffic nightmares  

October 14, 2023

By Robert Andrews 

Development goes on and on, seemingly without end. Developers are always looking for properties to develop and often build million-dollar houses on properties they acquire.  

In a town like Concord, good properties to develop become more and more scarce. The properties that remain impinge upon protected wetlands or conservation areas. They contain hillsides and big trees that must be removed for the development to proceed. They may open on streets that are already blocked at certain times of day by heavy, slow-moving traffic.  

Is it really of value to the community to allow these developments to go forward? Currently proposed developments along or near Main Street in West Concord are a case in point. There are now three development projects on the drawing board and before the Planning Board. None of them seem to be in remotely ideal locations and each will potentially slow down already heavy traffic.  

One of these projects is at the site of the E&S gas station, where Commonwealth Avenue bends sharply past the prison and out onto the Route 2 roundabout. The developer wants to put up a three-story, multi-use building containing both commercial establishments and residences. This is a very busy intersection where large numbers of cars are bumper to bumper heading out to Route 2 at least once a day. Cars going in and out of that location, which will have limited parking space, could turn a bad traffic dream into a nightmare!  

Another is a subdivision proposal for the two-and-a-half-acre property located behind 1053 Main St. This is a heavily treed and hilly landscape harboring much wildlife. It is scarcely large enough to accommodate four house lots with a new private road to access it, and the houses built will be expensive ones that many people could not afford to occupy. The only entrance and exit is near the busy intersection of Main Street and Baker Avenue. 

The third project is a very large apartment complex to be located on Baker Avenue that will have over 200 units. It seems inevitable that many of the residents will have cars that will need to exit or enter Baker Avenue close to where the proposed 1053 Main Street development will go.  

Each of these projects has certain merits, but collectively they add up to an extreme overloading of an already overloaded street.  

I personally live along this road with my wife. One thing that has always delighted us about our location is how close it is to Emerson Hospital and to the medical offices on Baker Avenue. It has, however, been getting harder and harder to break into the Main Street traffic at certain times of day. We are at the mercy of kindly drivers in getting access to the road. As the situation worsens and drivers get more impatient and irritable, a longer wait seems inevitable, just to get into creeping traffic. This is not, for us, a happy thing! Is it good planning?