Action Report on the June 9th Meeting - Update Add A Lane Project by Mass DOT

Mr. Lawrence Cash, Project Manager, from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT), updated the group of more than 50 interested people and NHNA members about the Route 128 Add-a-Lane Highway Project and its anticipated impact on the Town of Needham. Click here to see the presentation.

Project overview: The work includes five bridge locations and approximately 3.25 miles of I-95 roadway reconstruction. The roadway work on I-95, from just south of Kendrick Street to just north of Route 9, includes the installation of an additional 12 foot travel lane and 10 foot shoulder in each direction toward the median, along with new collector/distributor roads between Highland Avenue and Kendrick Street. The collector roads will provide safer weaving movements between the interchanges and provide safer traffic movements to and from the adjacent business park. The bridge locations on the I95/128 corridor include the following: Kendrick Street; Highland Avenue; MBTA RR bridge; Central Avenue bridge; and the bridge over Route 9 in Wellesley.

(Go to this site, select NEEDHAM and project #603711 anytime for the current status.)

Brief Summary of Schedule:

There are 5 segments of the project:

Phase 1: It is anticipated to begin Sept/Oct of 2015 with the reconstruction of the Kendrick Street Bridge. Noise barriers will be constructed along Hunting Road at the start of the construction. Three lanes of traffic will be open on the Kendrick Street Bridge during construction, with a substantial completion date of Sept 2017.

Phase 2: The construction in the median lane of 128 and the construction of a bridge next to the Highland Ave bridge will begin in 2017. The Highland Avenue bridge will be open during the entire project. The Central Avenue Bridge will be widened with the use of retaining walls on the outside of the current bridge, and the center opening will be filled. Sound barriers will be placed in this area as well, but not until the work in the median lane is completed.

Phase 3: The current railroad bridge will be removed and the abutments will be moved back. The plan is to "scale" back the cliff at St. Mary's street using machinery. Blasting will only be used as a last resort.

Phases 4/5: Additional lanes added through to interchange at Rte 9 in Wellesley, with a collector road and reworking of 2 of the 4 exit ramps.

Over 10,000 linear feet of sound proofing will be added along the 128 corridor. Night time work will be limited, mostly confined to demolition work. At least 1 sidewalk will be available on the Kendrick and Highland Ave bridges during construction. The new bridges over Kendrick Street and Highland Avenue will have improved pedestrian and bike lane access.

There will be biweekly meetings on site between the Needham/Wellesley/Newton Police/Fire and the MA/Dot supervisors.

There are incentives in place to have the entire project substantially completed by the Fall of 2018, and to have the Kendrick Street bridge and ramps completed within the first 2 years.

Neighborhood Feedback

The NHNA sent Larry Cash an email the day after the meeting expressing the following concerns that were brought up at the meeting by Needham residents abutting the project:

Comment 1: Residents want the sound barriers installed as quickly as possible. In Phase 2, this will be delayed until the center section work has been completed.

Comment 2: Residents of the Charles Court East Condominium association feel that there was a large portion of vegetation and screening removed to do the bridge work, and that this needs to be addressed as soon as possible as it has increased the noise and pollution to their land. They have a clear view of the highway now. You have offered to have the state landscape designer meet with them to form a plan.

Comment 3: The 3 residents of Kendrick street want the intersection at Hunting/Kendrick reviewed to increase their safety and egress to their homes, as well as exploring anything that can be done in terms of sound proofing in this area. They do not have a crosswalk at the intersection on their side of the street, and the right corner on to Kendrick from Hunting allows a constant flow of traffic making it very difficult for them to pull out of their driveways. The state and the town engineer need to review this intersection and form a plan.

Response

Larry Cash, Project Manager sent the following response immediately: "I have passed the comments ( NHNA original email) below over to our design team.

Comment 1: Installation of sound barriers will vary depending on the traffic staging. But we have expressed the importance to have the barriers built as soon as possible.

Comment 2: The bridge work at Great Plain Ave. is a separate contract. So will set up a site visit through our Landscape Section.

Comment 3: ( Intersection/sound barriers at Kendrick Street.) I have asked the consultant to look at the pavement marking plans to review the cross walk locations. This Section of Kendrick Street is already receiving proposed Noise Barriers abutting the bridge location. I don't think the person commenting understood there is already noise mitigation along the new ramps."

NHNA will be posting a copy of the power point presentation on our website as soon as we receive it from MA DOT.

Future Meetings

The tentative meeting schedule for next year is as follows:

September - Rezoning of the Industrial/Business areas off of Highland and Gould Streets - Devra Bailin

November - Marijuana Dispensary in Needham

January - Annual Meeting and approval of bylaws.

Other potential subjects for next year are the Hillside/Mitchell elementary school projects and the Rosemary Pool project.

The Board of the Heights Association would like to hear your input. If you have suggestions for meetings, or input on the tentative schedule for next year. Contact us at outreach@nhna.org.

Other potential subjects for next year are the Hillside/Mitchell elementary school projects and the Rosemary Pool project.