Transportation Planning

Bicycle Parking Program

The FRCOG Bicycle Parking Program provides bike racks for public use, free of charge, to our member communities. This opportunity is made possible through a contract with MassDOT, which will reimburse the FRCOG for the cost of bike racks through the Federal Highway Administration Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program. Participating Franklin County towns will be able to select the bike racks that they prefer.  The racks will be ordered by the FRCOG and delivered to towns on a first come, first-served basis. In order to be able to provide bike racks at no cost, the FRCOG must have a commitment from each participating town that they will be promptly installed. For information on how to receive free bike racks, see the Bicycle Parking Program information page.

Most Hazardous Intersections in Franklin County, 2011-2013

The Most Hazardous Intersections in Franklin County, 2011-2013, reports on data from motor vehicle crashes in Franklin County and identifies locations with repeated crash occurrences.  Trends in the factors contributing to crashes were examined, and the most hazardous intersections in Franklin County are ranked. The report includes an overview of the Top Five Most Hazardous Intersections in Franklin County. For further information, please contact Transportation Planning Engineer, Laurie Scarbrough at lscarbrough@frcog.org.

2011-2013 Hazardous Intersection Final

Alternative Transportation Maps

A series of three Alternative Transportation Maps are available for the areas of Greenfield/Turners Falls, Shelburne Falls, and Orange. The maps provide information on the location of bus routes, bus stops, the Franklin County Bikeway, sidewalks, and popular destinations such as parks, schools, and libraries. Also included are tips and resources for taking the bus, walking, and bicycling as a form of transportation. The maps were mailed to households in downtown Greenfield, Turners Falls, Shelburne Falls, and downtown Orange, with the goal of encouraging more trips to be made via alternatives to the personal automobile. For further information, please contact Land Use Planner, Alyssa Larose at alarose@frcog.org.

Greenfield Turners Falls Alternative Transportation Map

Orange Alternative Transportation Map

Shelburne Falls Alternative Transportation Map

Complete Streets

The FRCOG is working to promote complete streets in Franklin County.  Complete streets are roadways that have safe access for all users including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders. Complete streets are defined as streets for everyone. As part of this effort the FRCOG completed the Franklin County Complete Streets Project (2012) in which five locations were chosen, analyzed and complete streets improvements were recommended. A link to that plan is located here. As a result of this report, improvements were incorporated into several pending transportation roadway and intersection projects to make the locations better for all transportation users. During 2014, a follow-up project in which ten additional locations throughout Franklin County were chosen, analyzed and potential improvements identified.  A link to the 2014 Complete Streets 2 Report is located here.

For further information please contact Senior Transportation Planner II, Elizabeth Giannini at giannini@frcog.org.

Franklin County Regional Transportation Plan 2016

Every four years the FRCOG takes a comprehensive look at transportation needs, issues, facilities, and potential funding of the Franklin County transportation network over a 25-year time horizon to update Franklin County’s Long Range Regional Transportation Plan. The FRCOG has completed the 2016 Regional Transportation Plan.  The final chapters are available below. For further information, please contact Senior Transportation and Land Use Planner, Megan Rhodes at mrhodes@frcog.org.

Link to the 2016 Regional Transportation Plan (available as PDFs and Word files)

Link to Meeting Air Quality Goals in Transportation (August 2015). This report documents recent progress made by MassDOT and the MPOs in meeting air quality goals established through state and (currently former) federal regulations applicable to Massachusetts. It consists of two parts: 1) A “progress report” that documents future carbon dioxide (CO2) emission estimates from the transportation sector as part of meeting greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals established through the Commonwealth’s Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), and 2) An informational analysis of future vehicle emissions of ozone precursor pollutants – formerly a federal “air quality conformity” requirement for areas of Massachusetts.

Link to previously completed Franklin County Regional Transportation Plan.

2012 Regional Transportation Plan.

Scenic Byways
The National Scenic Byway Program is a federal transportation program which recognizes and celebrates scenic roads throughout the country. In Massachusetts, eligible roads are officially designated as Scenic Byways through an act of the Legislature. There are five state designated Scenic Byways in Franklin County, the Mohawk Trail (Route 2), Route 112, Route 116, and Route 122. Additionally, there is one nationally designated Scenic Byway, the Connecticut River Byway (Route 63 and 47) in Franklin County. Each of the Byways has its own unique character and story which are highlighted on http://www.bywayswestmass.com, a website launched to provide information on the Byways of western Massachusetts. For further information please contact Senior Transportation Planner II, Elizabeth Giannini at giannini@frcog.org.

Link Federal Scenic Byway Program website http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/.

Scenic Byways Land Protection Project
With funding awarded through the National Scenic Byway Program, the Scenic Byway Land Protection Project allows the FRCOG funding to work on permanently protecting important scenic, natural and agricultural landscapes along the Scenic Byways in Franklin County. The project is being completed as a cooperative effort working with the Franklin Land Trust, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Massachusetts Department of Agriculture (DAR) and the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game. At the inception of the project this cooperative effort was defined in an unprecedented Memorandum of Understanding that was crafted and executed between MassDOT, DCR, DAR, FRCOG and the Franklin Land Trust. To date, a total of 915 acres of landscapes critical to the Mohawk Trail, Connecticut River and Route 112 Scenic Byways have been permanently protected.

For further information please contact Senior Transportation Planner II, Elizabeth Giannini at giannini@frcog.org.

Land Recently Protected Near the Connecticut River in Erving

Land Recently Protected Near the Connecticut River in Erving

Mohawk Trail Historic Preservation Project
The FRCOG is working with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) to complete the Mohawk Trail Historic Preservation Project. The goal of the project is to assist in the preservation of historic properties that are located on the Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway. The project has two components: 1) to prepare Historical Survey Forms and/or National Register of Historic Places nomination forms for several properties along the Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway, and 2) to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of developing and administering a revolving loan fund to assist landowners of historically significant properties on the Mohawk Trail. The FRCOG has been working with local Historical Commissions to identify properties that are of historic significance along the Mohawk Trail corridor. For further information please contact Senior Transportation Planner II, Elizabeth Giannini at giannini@frcog.org.

Route 116 Scenic Byway Corridor Management Plan 

The Route 116 Scenic Byway is the most recently designated Scenic Byway in Franklin County. It was designated by the Massachusetts Legislature on August 4, 2008. In Franklin County, the Byway travels through the towns of Deerfield, Conway, and Ashfield. It is a scenic drive through rolling farm fields and forested areas into the Berkshire Hills. A Corridor Management Plan was recently completed for the Byway. The plan was a joint effort of the FRCOG, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. The Route 116 Corridor Management Plan can be viewed here. For further information please contact Senior Transportation Planner II, Elizabeth Giannini at giannini@frcog.org.

Connecticut River Scenic Byway Corridor Management Plan Update
The Connecticut River Scenic Byway is both a Federal and State designated Scenic Byway. It is the only federally designated Scenic Byway in Massachusetts. In Franklin County, the Byway travels on Routes 63 and 47 in the towns of Northfield, Erving, Montague and Sunderland. The Byway travels through the heart of the Connecticut River Valley and the neighboring farmland, floodplains, and historic villages. A Corridor Management Plan was originally completed for the Byway in 1998, and provided recommendations for promoting economic opportunities while protecting the natural, cultural, and historic resources of the Byway.

With funding awarded through the Fiscal Year 2012 National Scenic Byway Discretionary Grant Program, work is currently underway to update the Corridor Management Plan for the Connecticut River Byway. The FRCOG staff is receiving comments on the draft Corridor Management Plan until Wednesday, June 29th, 2016.

Please see the draft chapters:

Chapter 1 Introduction

Chapter 2 Scenic Resources

Chapter 3 Natural Resources

Chapter 4 Recreational Resources

Chapter 5 Archaeological and historical resources

Chapter 6 Transportation Resources

Chapter 7 Community Planning

Chapter 8 Tourism and Traveler Services

Chapter 9 Economic Development

Chapter 10 Action Plan for Franklin County

For further information please contact Senior Transportation Planner II, Elizabeth Giannini at giannini@frcog.org.

Connecticut River Scenic Byway Tri-state Bike Map
The FRCOG has coordinated to create a bicycling map for the tri-state (Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire) section of the Connecticut River Scenic Byway area. The FRCOG worked with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC), Windham Regional Commission (Vermont), and the Southwest Regional Planning Commission (New Hampshire) to develop a print and an on-line bicycle facility map. A pdf of the print map can be viewed at Connecticut River Byway Bike Map.

The on-line versions of the maps can be viewed in Google Earth. To access this electronic map, you must download the FREE Google Earth application. Then click on the link below to save the Bikeway Map file to your computer. (Use File Open in Google Earth to add the map and view it.)
Download Google Earth
Download the Connecticut River Scenic Byway Bike Map for Google Earth

The project also includes the installation of some wayfinding signs to aid in navigation along the recommended bicycle routes and also the purchase of bicycle parking racks at some key visitor oriented locations in the Hampshire County section of the Byway. The intention of the project is to enhance the bicycling resources in the tri-state area of the Connecticut River Scenic Byway. The project has presented a unique and welcomed opportunity for the Massachusetts based regional planning agencies to coordinate and work with their counterparts in New Hampshire and Vermont. The project is intended to build on a growing tourism industry sector – bicycle touring. For further information, please contact Megan Rhodes at mrhodes@frcog.org.

Franklin County Bikeway
The Franklin County Bikeway is a county-wide regional bicycle network. The Bikeway consists of both shared roadway routes and off-road bicycle paths. The original 44-mile section of the Franklin County Bikeway is centered along the Connecticut River Valley and marked with a wayfinding sign system. This section of the bikeway network consists of: a loop through Greenfield, Deerfield, Montague and Gill, which includes the Riverside Greenway Bikepath in Greenfield and the Canalside Trail Bikepath in Deerfield and Montague; a northern spur over the East Mineral Road bike/pedestrian bridge to Northfield; and two southern spurs, one to Sunderland and the other to Leverett/North Amherst. This section was completed after approximately 25 years of planning and design. Generally, the shared roadway routes make use of predominantly low traffic roads, and the off-road bikepaths provide connections that are suitable for all level riders.

In 2009 an update of the Franklin County Bikeway Plan was completed which defined routes to expand the Bikeway to cover the entire county and also to connect to the bordering counties and states. Wayfinding signs have not yet been installed on these expanded routes, but the entire county-wide network (approximately 240 miles) is included in the Franklin County Bike Maps.  There are plans to also install Franklin County Bikeway wayfinding signs on the routes that are not signed already, generally those in the east and west county area. The FRCOG is working to identify locations for the signs.

The Canalside Trail Bikepath in Unity Park in Turner Falls

The Canalside Trail Bikepath in Unity Park in Turner Falls

Three maps (Eastern Franklin County, Central Franklin County and Western Franklin County) were developed to direct cyclists along the Franklin County Bikeway network, and also to provide guidance with regard to which routes are best given their experience level. Because of the hilly terrain, some routes are very challenging, and better suited for more experienced cyclists. The maps provide information on whether a particular route is suited for a novice, intermediate or experienced bicyclist. The maps are available upon request from the FRCOG or at a variety of locations throughout the region including the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce and local bike shops. Digital versions of the maps can be viewed by clicking the appropriate link below, but please note that these files are files are quite large:

Eastern Franklin County Bike Map

Central Franklin County Bike Map

Western Franklin County Bike Map

The Franklin County Bikeway can also be viewed on-line in Google Earth. To access this electronic map, you must download the FREE Google Earth application. Then click on the link below to save the Bikeway Map file to your computer. (Use File Open in Google Earth to add the map and view it.)
Download Google Earth
Download the Franklin County Bikeway Map for Google Earth

For further information on the Franklin County Bikeway please contact Senior Transportation Planner II, Elizabeth Giannini at giannini@frcog.org.

Walk Franklin County Maps
As a collaborative project with the Greenfield YMCA’s Walk Franklin County Program, the FRCOG previously developed a set of pocket sized walking maps for the 26 towns in Franklin County.  The maps depict short walking routes in the historic districts and downtown areas.  The maps also include points of interest along the routes. The FRCOG recently reprinted the 8 most popular maps as part of the Franklin County Mass in Motion program.  These eight maps are currently available by request as laminated paper maps or as a digital version through this link.

Transit

The FRCOG also conducts transportation planning for public transit in the region in coordination with the Franklin Regional Transit Authority (FRTA). The FRCOG periodically conducts studies to assess transit services and ongoing unmet transit needs in the Franklin County region. These include the West County Transit Study, the North County Transit Study and the East County Transit Study. The FRCOG will be conducting a Transit Study for the towns of Wendell, New Salem, Leverett, and Shutesbury this fiscal year.

The FRCOG recently partnered with the FRTA on their Comprehensive Service Analysis (CSA).  The CSA examined their fixed route services and recommended phased improvements. The FRCOG helped the FRTA with their public outreach efforts.  A series of public forums, called Community Conversations, were held in May 2014 around the region.

Based on the recommendations of the CSA, the FRTA is now proposing changes to its fixed route system and fare structure. The FRCOG is again partnering with the FRTA on public outreach.  There will be four public meetings held during October.  The public comment period on the proposed changes ends on October 26th, 2015. For more information about the proposed changes, go to www.frta.org.

The FRCOG completed an update to the region’s Coordinated Public Transit – Human Services Transportation Plan (CHST). This plan, in coordination with other transportation service providers in the region, assesses the transportation needs of persons with disabilities and seniors within Franklin County.

The FRCOG completed an East County Transit Study in September 2016.  This study examined the feasibility of initiating fixed route transit service to the East County region, which includes the communities of Leverett, New Salem, Shutesbury, and Wendell.  A survey was conducted of all households in the four-town area, with a very strong response rate.  While it does appear that there is potentially demand for a form of transit service, current funding levels do not support start-up at this time.

For further information on transit planning at the FRCOG, contact Megan Rhodes at mrhodes@frcog.org.

Also, a video on how to load your bike on the bus is posted here.

Traffic Counting Program
The FRCOG has operated and maintained traffic counting equipment since 1991, primarily for the purpose of conducting state-requested counts required by our contract with MassDOT. However, fulfilling this obligation has taken only a portion of the traffic counting season, making it possible for us to use the equipment to conduct local traffic counts at no charge to our communities and support ongoing planning studies. The FRCOG operates automatic traffic recorders which have the capability to collect vehicle classification and speed data at most locations. The count season typically runs between May and October. The results of the counts uploaded to the MassDOT traffic counting master database that can be accessed at any time by visiting this link: http://mhd.ms2soft.com/tcds/tsearch.asp?loc=Mhd&mod= Traffic count requests can be made in writing (mail, fax or email) to Laurie Scarbrough, Transportation Planning Engineer at lscarbrough@frcog.org.

Pavement Management Program
Roadways are critical assets in the local and regional transportation network. They provide a connection between people, goods and businesses, and the condition of the roadways has direct impacts the safety and efficiency of the transportation network. Therefore, it is critical that the condition of our roadways is examined routinely and long-term planning is conducted for the maintenance of our roadways. A Pavement Management System (PMS) is a planning tool that collects and monitors information on current pavement conditions, evaluates and prioritizes alternative maintenance, rehabilitation and reconstruction (repair) strategies. To complete this Pavement Management Analysis FRCOG inspects all paved Federal Aid roadways that are under Town jurisdiction in Franklin County, on a three year rotating schedule. Roadways are automatically surveyed and reports are shared with the Towns as they become available. Roadways falling under Town jurisdiction are those roadways for which the Town is responsible for its repair and maintenance. For further information please contact Laurie Scarbrough, Transportation Planning Engineer at lscarbrough@frcog.org.

State Data Center Affiliate
Through its function as a State Data Center affiliate, the FRCOG is able to provide statistical information upon request to residents, organizations, businesses and municipalities in Franklin County. Staff have expertise in finding and analyzing data on a variety of topics, including demographic, economic, housing, transportation and local government. Commonly referenced data sources include the U.S. Census Bureau’s American FactFinder, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Labor Market Information, and the UMass Donahue Institute’s Massachusetts State Data Center. Staff complete data requests free of charge, unless the request requires a significant amount of data collection and analysis. The data requested is most often used to produce local and regional planning documents, write grant applications, conduct research, or develop business plans.

To facilitate greater access to important data, FRCOG is participating in a partnership with other Pioneer Valley based organizations to create an online resource. As this project progresses, additional information will be posted.

To submit a data request or for more information about this service, please contact Senior Economic Development Planner Jessica Atwood at jatwood@frcog.org or 413-774-3167 x123.

Passenger Rail

The investment of nearly $125 million dollars from the Federal Railroad Administration beginning in 2010 has led to the upgrade of the Connecticut River Main Line railroads tracks (roughly paralleling Interstate 91), the construction of three new passenger rail stops in Greenfield, Northampton, and Holyoke, and the relocation of Amtrak service back to those communities with the new stops.  Known as The Knowledge Corridor, Amtrak currently operates its “Vermonter” service one round trip per day between St. Albans, VT and Washington D.C. on the new tracks.  The southbound train arrives in Greenfield (at the home of the FRTA and FRCOG offices at the John W. Olver Transit Center) at approximately 1:45 p.m., returning northbound at 4:30 pm.  Work is currently underway planning for expansion of service on these tracks, with hopes for approximately 4 additional round trips per day between Greenfield and Springfield.  It is hoped that this expansion will dovetail with additional rail increases to our south, as Connecticut and Springfield look to launch up to 17 additional round trips per day between New Haven and Springfield starting in January, 2018In an ideal situation, expanded commuter rail service between Springfield and Greenfield would start around the same time.  

The FRCOG is also participating in work to expand Amtrak service from Boston to New Haven, and Boston to Montrealboth via Springfield.  Known as the Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative, this service will utilize the new Knowledge Corridor tracks for the north-south aspects of these trips, while the Inland Route tracks between Boston and Springfield will support the east-west leg.  Final recommendations have been compiled, and work continues to solidify details and secure funding for equipment and operation start-up.  More information can be found at http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/northernnewenglandrail/Documents.aspx.

Transportation Improvement Program
The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is a prioritized, multi-year program for the implementation of transportation improvement projects in the Franklin region. Any project intended to receive federal transportation funds must, by federal regulation, be listed in an improvement program that includes broad public participation. The TIP is drafted each year, and includes detailed project evaluations that take into account need, community support, additional benefits, project readiness, and funding availability. The TIP is an expression of intent to implement the listed projects. A final commitment of funds for each of the projects has not been issued.

The FRCOG planning staff works closely with the MassDOT Office of Transportation Planning (OTP), the MassDOT Highway Districts 1 and 2, and the Franklin County Transportation Planning Organization (FCTPO) to ensure that these prioritized TIP projects are advertised and funded. Projects on the TIP were solicited from Franklin County municipal officials, MassDOT Highway Districts 1 and 2, the Franklin Regional Transit Authority, and the Franklin Regional Planning Board.

The 2017-2021 TIP was endorsed by the FCTPO on July 25, 2016. It will be in effect from October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017. Below are links to the documents.

2017-2021 FCTPO TIP Adjustment 2 Final

2017-2021 FCTPO TIP Transit List Adjustment 2

Franklin 2017-2021 TIP Full Text

Please contact Maureen Mullaney at mmullaney@frcog.org or 413-774-3167 x 129 if you have any questions about the TIP.

The Franklin County Transportation Planning Organization endorsed the 2018-2022 Transportation Improvement Program on May 23, 2017. This TIP will be in effect from October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018. Links to the documents are below:

2018-2022 FCTPO TIP Highway Project List

2018-2022 FCTPO Full Document

2018-2022 FCTPO TIP Transit Project List

The Draft FFY 2018-2022 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), the federally-aided highway and transit portion of MassDOT’s FY 18-22 Capital Investment Plan (CIP), has been posted to the MassDOT website (http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/planning/Main/StatewidePlans/StateTransportationImprovementProgram.aspx) for public review and comment through May 30th.  With assistance from the MPOs, this marks the first year that the STIP development and programs align with the MassDOT CIP. We appreciate the cooperation in the development of your respective TIPs and this Draft FFY 2018-2022 STIP.

Unified Planning Work Program

The Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) describes the scope and estimated cost of work tasks to be conducted by the transportation planning staff of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) on behalf of the Franklin County Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) over a single fiscal year contract year. The UPWP outlines the region’s long and short-range transportation planning objectives and describes how these objectives will be met.

This UPWP has been developed to reflect State and Federal requirements, as well as local priorities and needs. Specific tasks have been identified through the analyses conducted and recommendations generated for the 2000, 2003, 2007, 2012, and 2016 Regional Transportation Plans. Tasks within this UPWP are also a direct response to previous work and input from the Franklin County Transportation Planning Organization, and the Franklin Regional Planning Board.

The 2017 UPWP (October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017) was endorsed by the Franklin County TPO on July 25th, 2016.

Franklin 2017 UPWP FINAL

The 2018 UPWP (October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018) was endorsed by the Franklin County TPO on May 23, 2017.

Franklin 2018 UPWP final

For more information on the UPWP, please contact Maureen Mullaney at mmullaney@frcog.org.

 

Proposed Critical Rural Freight Corridors (CRFCs) and Critical Urban Freight Corridors (CUFCs)

The FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act) directed the FHWA Administrator to establish a National Highway Freight Network (NHFN) to strategically focus Federal resources and policies toward improved performance of highway portions of the U.S. freight transportation system. The NHFN is made up of four components:

  1. The Primary Highway Freight System (PHFS): The most critical highway portions of the U.S. freight transportation system.
  2. The Remaining portion of Interstate roads not included in the PHFS.
  3. Critical Rural Freight Corridors (CRFCs):  Public roads not in an urbanized area that provide access and connection to the PHFS and the Interstate with other important ports, public transportation facilities, or other intermodal freight facilities
  4. Critical Urban Freight Corridors (CUFCs): Public roads in urbanized areas which provide access and connection to the PHFS and the Interstate with other ports, public transportation facilities, or other intermodal transportation facilities

Massachusetts is allocated 150 miles of Critical Rural Freight Corridor (CRFC) mileage and 75 miles of Critical Urban Freight Corridor Mileage (CUFC). Of this mileage, Franklin County has been allocated 33.39 miles of CRFC and 0.72 miles of CUFC. This is based on Franklin County’s centerline mileage as a percentage of Massachusetts as a whole. States and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) are responsible for designating public roads for the CRFC mileage and CUFC mileage in accordance with the FAST Act.

The Franklin County Transportation Planning Organization released a list of proposed CRFCs and CUFCs for public review and comment on April 25, 2017 (link here). There will be a  21-day comment period from Friday, April 28 through Friday, May 19, 2017. Please provide any comments to Laurie Scarbrough by email at lscarbrough@frcog.org or by mail to 12 Olive Street, Suite 2, Greenfield, MA 01301.