The City and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) can agree on one thing – that Beacham Street needs significant monies to improve the path to the Encore Boston Harbor casino for guests and employees.
The Beacham Street corridor is one of the only connections from Chelsea to the casino, and it is also a major freight corridor for the region’s food supply from the New England Produce Market, and the MGC voted on June 25 to award $1.5 million to Chelsea to assist in building out their re-construction of Beacham. The City applied for two grants from the MGC’s mitigation funds, which was rare for one project to request significant funds for mitigation.
Nevertheless, the MGC’s review board felt Beacham was very important. They awarded $500,000 from the Specific Impact Program based on a Casino Traffic Study the City conducted showing more traffic after the casino opened. Then the City also got a $1 million grant from the Transportation Construction Program.
“We’re indescribably excited and pleased with the Gaming Commission’s decision,” said Planner Alex Train. “This is a benefit to the community as well. By getting this Mass Gaming grant, we can finance the project independently and allows the City to finance other capital projects. It relieves an immense financial burden on us given the current fiscal condition.” The project has been in the works for some time, and is just about ready to go to construction. Train said it has been fully engineered and designed. It has also been permitted and the City plans to release it for bids this month.
“This project will allow the corridor to further its use as a freight corridor, but also it will allow it to become more of a pedestrian and bicycle corridor,” he said. The project is a full reconstruction of the area, including new drainage with double the capacity for flood absorption. They will rehabilitate the sewer and water piping, and do a full-depth reconstruction of the roadway.
There will also be a shared use path installed for pedestrians and cyclists and landscaping installed along the corridor to “green up” the area. The City has already received federal grant money for the project, and some state money as well. Everett is in the midst of planning their section of the project as well, which will allow for the entire Beacham Street stretch between Chelsea and Everett to be one, matching, contiguous reconstruction. The corridor has not been seriously improved, Train said, since it was built in the 1960s.