Legislators update on Westborough commuter rail parking lot project   

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The lot now stands virtually empty, as this photo from Sept 28 taken at 12 p.m. shows.

By Jennifer L. Grybowski, Contributing Writer

Westborough – During the Sept. 22 Board of Selectmen meeting, State Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) updated the Board on the status of the commuter rail parking lot expansion project on Smith Parkway.

Kane noted that project is slated to add both street parking and 52 spots to the footprint of the lot itself – but due to COVID impacts, financing is currently on hold. She did point out, however, that in riding by the lot earlier that day, there were only 11 cars in the lot, which she attributed to more people working from home these days.

Kane also gave an update on the I-495/I-90 interchange project, saying it is moving closer to fruition, with a timeline of construction beginning in late 2022 and running to late 2026 or early 2027. A $21 million grant has been secured from federal highway funds for the project. She pointed out that the state is prioritizing the project for the interchange because it is one of the highest incident interchanges for accidents. Although it was hoped accident incidents would go down when the tolls were removed, they actually increased because there is now no slowing down and people are changing lanes where they weren’t before.

Dykema noted that although the town had hoped to include BWALK trail improvements into the 495/90 project, MassDOT has determined the area is outside the construction envelope. However, MassDOT also noted it will ensure nothing will happen in the construction envelope to prohibit work on the trail.

Gregoire reported on two local land bills pending before the legislature, one regarding the former Green Thumb property on Rt. 9 and another regarding a sliver of land on Lyman St. that was never properly dealt with as part of a transfer of the Westborough State Hospital property.

“We are doing everything we can,” she said. “Hopefully we can have both these pieces of land wrapped up in in proper hands in short order.”

The commuter rail lot in 2018 was so full, a sign advised patrons to Grafton or Ashland.