Shrewsbury receives award to prevent flooding on Route 20

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Shrewsbury receives award to prevent flooding on Route 20
Drone photography shows Route 20 in Shrewsbury. Photo by/Tami White

SHREWSBURY – Flooding on Route 20 may soon be a thing of the past.

On April 10, Governor Maura Healey’s office announced that Shrewsbury and Worcester had been awarded $3.7 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the Route 20 and Grafton Street Interchange Project. 

The grant, which was awarded as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, represents 80% of the total project costs.

“This award is a gamechanger for Worcester and Shrewsbury. We need to act now on critical transportation infrastructure projects like this, which will provide urgently needed relief for communities impacted by flooding and strengthen resilience,” said Healey. “We are grateful for the support of leaders in Worcester and Shrewsbury, our congressional delegation and the Biden-Harris administration for helping us deliver on this project and others that will benefit generations to come.” 

The area has a history of flooding, which often results in road closures, delays, safety concerns, and vehicle damage. Much of the existing drainage infrastructure was built in the 1930s and is unable to sufficiently drain the highly developed watershed. The area experiences serious flooding roughly 10 times per year, and in 2021 an incident led to several vehicles becoming disabled and passengers needed the assistance of first responders to safely get to dry land. 

Preventing flooding is an opportunity to improve water quality and increase transportation infrastructure’s climate resilience for a deficient stretch of critical roadway while supporting projected growth in Central Massachusetts.   

“Shrewsbury’s newly adopted Climate Action and Resiliency Plan notes the need to prepare for the current and coming impacts of climate change including flooding, which happens often along this section of Route 20,” said Select Board Chair Beth Casavant. “With increased commercial and residential development, this funding will make our community safer by modernizing aging infrastructure to meet the challenges of today’s climate. State and local partnerships like this lead to better outcomes for all.”  

Through this project, a dedicated trunk line and numerous new drainage inlets will be installed, including improvements to existing drainage infrastructure. These improvements will increase the ability of the low-lying area to drain during storm events, greatly reducing flooding frequency and duration. A stilling basin will also be added at the outfall location, which includes both existing and proposed outfalls, to reduce the potential for soil erosion at the outfall.   

“Roadway flooding stops commuters from getting to work, kids from getting to school, and emergency vehicles from providing assistance,” said Congressman Jim McGovern. “This investment of $3.7 million in federal funding will allow MassDOT to replace and expand the outdated drainage system for the Route 20 and Grafton St. interchange in Worcester. I know this section of road is prone to flooding, and thanks to the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, passed by House Democrats, overseen by Secretary Buttigieg, and signed into law by President Biden, we got this done.”  

 

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