Major Broadway Improvements Could Begin in 2022

A major $9.5 million improvement project for
the one-mile stretch of Broadway from City Hall Avenue to the Revere line could
get underway by the spring of 2022.

On Thursday, March 21, the Massachusetts
Department of Transportation held a public hearing on the preliminary design
plans for the roadway reconstruction. Although the state officials and
engineers outnumbered the residents in attendance for the meeting, there was a
good amount of information provided on the shape, scope, and timeline of the
road reconstruction project.

“We are finishing the 25 percent design
stage,” said Larry Cash, the MassDOT project manager. “After this hearing, we
will be advancing to the final design stage.”

The purpose of the project is to increase
safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles along the Broadway corridor
and intersecting streets in the city, according to Weston and Sampson engineer
Larry Keegan. He said there will be new turn lanes, additional vehicle stacking
room, and traffic signals at the project intersections allowing for the safer
turning of vehicles and improved safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. The
plans also include dedicated bicycle lanes through the one-mile stretch.

“There have been 97 collisions over a
three-year period” along that portion of Broadway,” said Keegan. “That is above
the state average.”

Keegan pointed to poor intersection layout,
outdated traffic signals, and deficient pedestrian, bicycle, and public transit
accommodations as being among the chief culprits for the high number of
accidents. All of those issues will be addressed during the roadway
reconstruction, he said.

In addition to the repaving of the road
itself, a major component of the work includes new sidewalks and improved
drainage.

Sidewalk improvements will mean the removal
of some trees.

“The existing trees are old and unhealthy,
lifting up the sidewalks themselves so that they are not ADA (Americans with
Disabilities Act) compliant,” said Keegan.

Other areas that will get major upgrades are
the MBTA bus stops along the route. Keegan noted that there is deterioration of
pavement and pavement markings from years of use along the mile of Broadway,
and that the deterioration is especially pronounced at the bus stops.

The proposed project will require permanent
and temporary easements from adjacent property owners, but Cash said those
easements are either temporary to allow for construction work along the road,
or are for the installation or minor regrading of sidewalks.

As with any project that involves ripping up
pavement and sidewalks to make way for improvements, there will be traffic and
construction impacts once work gets underway.

But Keegan said the plan is to keep
disruptions to a minimum and traffic flowing as easily as possible.

“No detours are anticipated at this time,”
he said.

During the day, the plan is to have a single
lane of traffic closed and have the traffic managed by police. At night, there
will be two-way traffic, according to Keegan. Access to schools, businesses,
and residences will be kept open as much as possible, he added.

Chelsea resident John Gunning asked if the
bus stops would remain in the current locations and if there would be
improvements to the bus shelters.

Keegan said engineers will be working with
the MBTA during the next phase of design to address some of those issues.

“The T wants certain things and the city
wants certain things (for the bus stops),” he said. “We are looking at
different options at this point.”

Dunning said he would like to see fresh, new
bus shelters and stops that will complement the surrounding area and completed
improvements.

Cash said design,
permitting, and right of way acquisition for the project will continue through
2019 and 2020 with construction anticipated to start in the spring of 2022.

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Major Broadway Improvements Could Begin in 2022

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