The long-awaited Main Street reconstruction project is one step closer to reality. Town Administrator Mark Purple announced last week the project has been placed on the draft three-year Transportation Improvement Plan put together by the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization. While that’s good news, Purple said if the draft is approved, the earliest the project is likely to get underway is fiscal year 2017.
The reconstruction project has been in the planning phases for many years, with the Board of Selectmen signing off on a design proposal back in 2010. A main focus of the work is improving the intersection of Routes 30 and 85 by creating left-turn lanes and installing traffic lights that can sense cars. Main Street from Sears Road to Park Street will also be repaved, and curbs, sidewalks, crosswalks, and drainage will be improved.
One controversial part of the plan calls for widening the stretch of Main Street west of Route 85 by shifting the 150-year-old stone wall that runs along the Town Common by as many as 6 feet. Moving the wall and widening the road will allow for improved access for emergency vehicles, as well as the creation of parking spaces on the south side of the street. Some trees on the Common will also need to be cut down.
Early in the design process, a private group of residents, business owners, and others called the Main Street Council, proposed burying underground the utility lines that run along Main Street while the reconstruction project was happening. Proponents said doing so would vastly improve the appearance of downtown Southborough.
While federal and state funds pay for the reconstruction work, which is estimated at $4.4M, the cost of burying utility lines would have to be borne by the town. At an estimated $8M, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously in 2012 to pass on the plan, saying it was just too expensive.
The Boston Region MPO is collecting comments on all the projects in its draft Transportation Improvement Plan, and will review those comments before finalizing funding.