By Chris Kopacko, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Secretary Richard Davey highlighted a $12 million infrastructure investment proposal for Westborough and Southborough Jan. 30 as part of a larger statewide spending plan aimed at job growth and economic development.
Speaking at a transportation committee meeting sponsored by the 495/MetroWest Partnership in Westborough, Davey underlined some features of Gov. Deval Patrick's new spending proposal that are particular to the region. ?On Jan. 16, Patrick announced in his State of the Commonwealth address his plans to promote growth and expand opportunity throughout the state, particularly in the areas of infrastructure and education. Specific to the region is a $12 million investment that would fund the widening of Route 9 for a third lane between Computer Research Drive in Westborough and Crystal Pond Road in Southborough.
“One of our leverage points in Massachusetts is transportation,” Davey said. ?”So a modern transportation system is vital.”
Davey said that while state investments in roads and transportation have tripled in six years, it has not been enough.
“The debate shouldn's be about whether or not to invest, but how to do it,” he said.
In addition to widening Route 9, the proposed plan would also improve the intersection at Route 9 and Crystal Pond Road, as well as make improvements to Research Drive and Connector Road. The proposal also calls for adequate accommodations for bicyclists and pedestrians, something Davey said that is currently lacking in that area.
Davey said that without Patrick's proposed spending plan, these infrastructure improvements wouldn's be completed until at least fiscal year 2017. He said that if the Governor's plan is passed by the Legislature, these improvements would happen much sooner.
Davey also discussed the plan's proposal to increase statewide Chapter 90 funding – which reimburses municipalities of apportioned funds used for the construction, maintenance and repair of bridges and roadways – by 50 percent. For Westborough, this would mean and increase from $824,286 to $1,236,429 annually. For Southborough, Chapter 90 funding would increase from $434,185 to $651,278 annually. Hudson, Marlborough, Northborough and Shrewsbury would see increases of $299,447, $569,863, $237,837 and $494,572, respectively.
Davey said that these funding increases would be vital to helping towns combat traffic, fix potholes and maintain bridges, among other things.
When asked what the private sector could do to assist in MassDOT's proposed plan, Davey stressed public outreach.
“We need help articulating [our plan] to the residents of Westborough and Southborough,” he said. “Anyway that the private sector can assist in that, we'se open to it.”