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Keegan pointed to poor intersection layout, outdated traffic signals, and deficient pedestrian, bicycle, and public transit accommodations as being among the chief culprits for the high number of accidents.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.