By Dan Miller, Contributing Writer
WESTBOROUGH – New funding made available by the recent passage of federal infrastructure legislation could help pay for proposed safety improvements at the intersection of Otis Street and Route 9 in Westborough, according to discussion during the Select Board’s Nov. 23 meeting.
Massachusetts is expected to receive up to $13 billion in funds for infrastructure improvements as a result of the legislation, according to preliminary estimates presented to the board by state Sen. Michael Moore.
Westborough to join new senate district
Moore was at the Nov. 23 meeting primarily to introduce himself to the board, as Westborough will soon become part of Moore’s state senate district. The change is a result of redistricting following the 2020 census.
Westborough is currently part of Sen. Jamie Eldridge’s Middlesex and Worcester district. Come January the town will be part of Moore’s new state senate district, which Moore told the board will also include Auburn, Millbury, Grafton, Shrewsbury and up to about 40 percent of Worcester.
‘It’s a really unsafe intersection’
Moore said the federal infrastructure legislation is expected to pump up to $9 billion into Massachusetts, with up to another $4 billion coming in for “separate programming.”
Moore said it’s not yet known what restrictions would be in place on the money, but he encouraged the Select Board to put together a list of infrastructure projects that need to be addressed in Westborough.
The most pressing need, according to Select Board member Ian Johnson, is safety improvements at the Otis Street and Route 9 intersection.
“That intersection is one that we have numerous accidents there,” Johnson said, noting the large Arrive apartment complex that overlooks the intersection. “We would love to give [residents] safe access to the other side of Route 9.”
“Now we have them crossing where there is no crosswalk,” he continued. “It’s really an unsafe intersection.”
Moore asked if the town has a project cost estimate, to which Johnson responded “a lot.”
Board Chair Allen Edinberg noted that one option could involve installing a median wide enough to protect pedestrians who cannot cross the street in one light cycle.
Edinberg added that the discussed improvements aren’t just important for the apartment complex residents and those using roads feeding into the intersection. They’re also important to support continued commercial and industrial growth impacting the intersection, he said.
He specifically mentioned the recently opened Amazon Robotics facility at the old AstraZeneca property in town. That facility now has up to 250 full-time jobs and is projected to add roughly 150 more such positions, Edinberg told Moore.
ARPA discussions proceed in neighboring communities
ARPA discussions continue outside of Westborough as local leaders weigh their options amid some continuing uncertainty about this federal funding.
Shrewsbury selectmen broke down their options in a meeting last week.
Hudson’s Executive Assistant, meanwhile, listed specific ARPA priorities in a Select Board meeting more than a month ago on Nov. 1.
That list included funding bridge repairs, a planned wastewater treatment plant upgrade and office space for a set of new Health Department hires.
Before either of those discussions, Southborough hired a consultant to guide its planning and utilization of ARPA funds.