Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Railroad grade crossings

As soon as automobiles took a predominent place in the moving of people and goods, grade crossings became a nuisance in Downtown Framingham. As early as 1925, the Town was open to any solution regarding their elimination. Back then, the problem was not considered a major issue and nothing came out of those early discussions.

To be perfectly clear, the main issue was the traffic jams caused by the railroad tracks crossing Concord Street (Route 126) at grade level. It is of course still a major problem today.

Fast forward to the 1950's and what was known as Scheme Five. Joseph Perini, head of a Town committee for the elimination of grade crossings (and head of the Perini Corporation), proposed a plan that would reroute the railroad tracks and Route 135 to the South of Downtown's business district, near the Ashland town line. No more grade crossings and lots of parking spaces for the businesses along Concord Street, Union Avenue, Hollis Street and Irving Street.

On March 16, 1960, Perini presented his proposal to the Town, insisting on the fact that it would cost nothing to the Town, assuming all expenses would come from State and Federal funds. He also stated that Framingham was the only sizeable community along the main railroad lines of New England with such a problem. To make a long story short, the plan was rejected probably because it was considered too much of a hassle to actually reroute the tracks (4 year project) especially when assuming (wrongly) that railroad traffic would decrease in the future.

Perini's vision of a "new" Downtown with no railroad tracks. Plenty of parking spaces surround the business district. Thanks to the Framingham Trust Company.

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