The Town expected to hear last Thursday if the Main Street Reconstruction project could keep its slot on the “TIP” list of transportation projects. Apparently, a vote on pushing the project from FY17 to FY18 is now expected to happen on June 2nd.
According to Town Administrator Mark Purple, state staffers to the MPO are recommending the schedule push. But the decision, scheduled for June 2nd, will be made by the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization).*
Public Works Superintendent Karen Galligan seemed optimistic last Tuesday about Southborough holding its place. She told selectmen that MassDOT seemed in favor of keeping the project. She explained that other small projects weren’t ready to fill the project’s slot. And she believed that support from legislators who helped get Main Street on the TIP, could help the Town hold its place.
If the project stays on the TIP, easements will need to be re-addressed at Special Town Meeting. If that happens, the Town plans to educate the public better on the project and what the alternative(s) would be.
There were several opinions on why Town Meeting voters failed to pass easements in April. Some believed that residents rejected the project with full understanding. Others believed that residents held misperceptions. And some believed that opponents turned up to block the vote while supporters stayed home, not realizing the project was on the line.
There was agreement from both sides that voters didn’t have another plan for comparison. Chair John Rooney said he believed voters should understand the choices when making their decision.
There was discussion about how to assess the cost of a non-TIP project. Galligan pointed out that choices in the project impact the costs. She furthered that in seeking public feedback there were always several conflicting opinions. She suggested a committee of reconstruction opponents take point on the alternate plan.
Main Street Design Working Group Chair Martin Healey pitched his group’s familiarity with issues. Healey said he believed fellow members would be willing to work on it.
In the end, selectmen decided to hear on the TIP vote before deciding their course of action.
*Editor’s Note: What’s the difference between the MPO and its staff? The MassDOT (Dept of Transportation) website explains:
MPOs are comprised of state, regional, and local governmental representatives that prioritize and select what transportation projects to fund each year using their allocated of Federal money. . . both the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (the regional planning agency) and the Central Transportation Planning Staff (Boston MPO staff) provide staff support to the [Boston area] MPO.