Mass. Ave. construction seems on track for 2014

construction signThis summer at a neighbor’s pool, at the barber shop, and around town, people are asking me when construction is going to start on Mass. Ave.

If I had definite information I would publish it here. But I follow this issue more than most people, so for what it is worth, I think March or April of 2014 is likely.

Certainly it can’t be much earlier than that. On the other hand most of the external obstacles are behind us.

The Town faces an administrative deadline of September 30, the end of the fiscal year for the federal government. Between now and then the Town and its consultants must fill in a million blanks in the technical specifications.

This work is neither trivial not guaranteed, but it is quite feasible. The Town has forged ahead with the 100% plans in late April and the draft easements plans in June.

In February a public hearing on the project generated testimony from the neighborhood and beyond that was overwhelmingly favorable, part of a 4-year trend of steadily growing support.

On the other hand a town-wide vote on Mass. Ave. in early April is, predictably, having no effect on this process. The measure rendered itself politically ignorable due to its wording (studiedly ambiguous), its timing (too late) its legal status (nonbinding) and its outcome (close). The Selectmen’s unanimous vote to move forward after the vote in April was no surprise.

Assuming the Town hits its September 30 deadline, the project must be formally bid and contracts signed before construction can begin. That pushes things into the 2014 construction season.

The project has slipped many times since planning began in 2008 but this deadline looks like the Town’s to lose.


5 comments so far

  1. Linda Guttman on

    Yippee!!!! Waiting with bated breath!

    • Adam Auster on

      Well, maybe best not to abate your breathing for too long! But let’s hope there are no more delays.

  2. Mark Kaepplein on

    How is there steadily growing support when the vote showed people in the project area didn’t want to lose a travel lane by a 10% margin? The vote was late because Selectmen and TM opposed revealing that people didn’t want lane reduction and blocked all attempts at democracy that they could.

    All five Selectmen have put their names to false statements. Two days before the vote, a postcard funded by BoS Chairman Dunn claimed “If we delay any longer, we will have to pay for it ourselves.” This was never true, and the project missing the September FFY2013 deadline will show that money does not simply dry up. Belmont’s Trapelo Road project has been through more delays, yet, the funding commitment remained.

    The current delay is the fault of Selectmen. By insisting on the loss of a travel lane, they put half the funding is in jeopardy. CMAQ funding is based on reducing traffic congestion and the resulting air pollution from it. Removing a travel lane makes claiming a reduction in traffic congestion much harder. The Federal Highway Administration has a responsibility to taxpayers that funds targeted for a use are used responsibly as intended. So, blame the lane removal advocates for project slow downs. If the feds approve the 75% plans after getting all their concerns answered, then they can start working on the 100% level plans.

    Taking of about 240 easements from about 100 property owners is a lengthy legal process. It delayed the Trapelo Road project nearly a year. Already Arlington has violated procedures. Appraisers are required to ask property owners if they want to be shown where the easements are on their property, and have not.

    Selectmen need to approve eminent domain takings, followed by document submissions, paying property owners, and eventually paying and filing deed modifications with the Registrar of Deeds. The money all comes from the town’s Chapter 90 state road repaving funds. Those are being made up for and then some from the tax override.

    Its a lot of work, so, I’m doubtful the project can go to bit in federal fiscal year 2013. If the project goes out for bidding sometime in the winter, it still might be possible to have the sidewalks torn up a year from now, provided the loss of a travel lane and many other technical details are worked out.

    • Adam Auster on

      We’ll see what happens about the deadline. Seems like it’s all up to the Town now.

      I’ve already weighed in on the conspiracy stuff, so I’ll pass this time.

      • Mark Kaepplein on

        Well, its not all up to the Town. There is lots of work to be done by many parties. Its no easy job to get everything ready for going to bid, even for a relatively small project like Arlington’s.

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