The Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization today approved funding for the reconstruction of the Belmont-Trapelo Corridor. The MPO is the joint local-state-federal committee that allocates federal highway funds and the 20% state match to those funds. The MPO has approved $14.6 million in funds for the Belmont-Trapelo Corridor in the 2012 element of its new three year plan. For full detail on the Belmont-Trapelo project, click here.

This approval is a huge milestone for Belmont, for Watertown and for the thousands of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians who use the corridor daily. The MPO only approves a project after state highway engineers have approved the design. The approved design reflects years of work by Belmont officials and collaboration with Watertown officials. The Planning Department conducted the original economic development study over 10 years ago. That study articulated the need for a safer, more neighborhood-friendly roadway. The Town Engineer, the Traffic Advisory Committee, and the Board of Selectmen collectively spent hundreds of hours sorting through the concerns of business and residential abutters to come up with an approach that was broadly accepted. On the basis of this work, the town’s engineering consultants for the project, the BSC Group, finalized a design that has been recognized as one of the best project designs in the Boston area. The project is being funded in 2012 because it rose to the top among dozens of competing projects in a third-party professional ranking process based on project need and design quality.

As Selectman and since 2007 as state representative, I have followed the MPO process carefully to keep the project on the MPO’s radar screen and to assure that all questions raised by MPO members and staff were promptly answered. I also worked with Congressman Markey’s office to procure a $330 thousand federal earmark for design funding for the project. Congressman Markey’s successful efforts on this earmark gave the project a very important additional boost in the process.

Construction funding for 2012 means that the project must be advertised for construction bidding before September 30, 2012. Construction would probably actually start in early 2013. Over the next 12 months, the town will work closely with the state highway engineers to iron out issues that may arise in the final planning stages of the project — typically right of way and construction management issues. One cloud on the horizon is the possibility of federal transportation funding cuts. Until 2012 federal transportation is approved and until final bid documents are posted, the project is still at risk. But today’s MPO vote is a huge step forward.

Also approved by the MPO today was $3.0 million in 2013 funding for Arlington’s Mass. Ave reconstruction project. The project covers a much shorter road segment but resembles the Belmont-Trapelo road project — it is also a reconstruction of an overwide former streetcar line to make it more neighborhood friendly.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

10 replies on “$14.6 Million approved for Belmont-Trapelo Corridor”

  1. Are there plans available online anywhere for the Trapelo project? I’ve heard a lot about the East Arlington Mass Ave project (via the arlington email list), and like a lot of the ideas, but hadn’t heard a peep about Trapelo. I know for Arlington they had posted pdfs of the plans at 25% and I think at 75% stage as well. Looking to see the same for Belmont if possible. Sounds like a much larger-scale project.

    1. Belmont is further along and many of the hearings happened longer ago. There was a lot of attention on it previously. I don’t see online plan postings, but I’ll send a note to the engineer to check if I’m missing anything.

      1. Will, I have a copy, I think it was 75% design, from July 2008. (several PDFs and a powerpoint presentation)

        I recall that we were told that almost no changes were possible, and that we should not expect to enlarge the nominal bike lanes at the expense of car lanes. I did request a six-inch shift in the entire car roadway to enlarge the bike lane on one side (adjacent to parking spaces) at the expense of the bike lane on the other side (not adjacent to parking spaces); I don’t know if that change was possible or implemented.

  2. In a note to the Arlington List, Mark Kappalein says: “Brownsberger got the numbers wrong. He wasn’t at the meeting. I was. He only listed one of four line items for the project’s funding. The total of all four is: $5,887,336. Actually, I did come by the meeting and sat for a while behind Mark and my aide was present for the entire meeting. However, he is right that I only picked up one of the line items in the post above and the four items total $5.9 million. Interested readers can view the plan themselves at the link in the post above.

  3. What is wrong with the Belmont-Trapelo Corridor? It would be nice to have some catch-up information for those of us who only get interested in local affairs around election time.

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