The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is ponying up over $6 million for the reconstruction of Revere Street.
During the design process, several Town Councilors have expressed concerns about the state requiring a bicycle lane as part of that project. However, if the town wants to substantially change those plans for a bike lane, it would have to go back to the drawing board and would likely endanger the $6.4 million in state funding, according to Andrew Valcovic of CHA consultants.
Valcovic appeared before the council at its Nov. 14 meeting to update members on a recent meeting with MassDOT concerning the bike lane, lighting, and tree removal along the proposed half mile of Revere Street from the intersection of Revere, Main, and Winthrop streets to the intersection of Highland and Crest avenues and Revere Street. The project includes the reconstruction of both of those intersections with improved traffic signals, along with the bicycle lane.
“The last time we met and gave a presentation going over the project, Town Council asked us to go back to MassDOT and ask questions relating to bicycle accommodations, as well as some additional funding for things like trees, bus stop shelters, and lighting,” Valcovic said. “We met with MassDOT on Nov. 4 with about a dozen engineers and people at MassDOT, and they indicated that any changes to the bicycle accommodations would require us to revisit the design exception process, which could be a lengthy process and they worried it could delay the project and jeopardize funding for the project altogether if we went back to the design board on bicycle accommodations. That might not be the news you were looking for, but that is where things stand at this point in relation to the bike lanes.”
There were also concerns about the removal of four to seven trees along the route of the project, the majority of those being smaller trees of two to four inches in diameter.
Valcovic noted that the design plans call for 20 replacement trees as part of the project. He said the designers are still working with the town and its tree committee to determine what types of trees will be planted and where they will be located.
Public works director Steven Calla noted that he and Town Manager Tony Marino were working on a formal request to MassDOT for lighting upgrades, additional trees, and solar-powered crosswalk signs to be included as part of the project.
Precinct 2 Councilor John Munson asked how many parking spots would be lost as a result of the road reconstruction.
Valcovic said about eight spots would be lost near the Shirley Avenue intersection due to the bike lane, while another two spots would be lost at the Governors Drive intersection due to a bus stop being moved. However, Valcovic noted that those two spots might be regained in the future as part of the MBTA’s bus route redesign program.
“The net loss would be five to 10 spots, but what’s important to understand is that five of those spots being used today aren’t really compliant with MassDOT standards,” said Calla.
Councilor-at-Large Rob DeMarco said it was still concerning that the town was losing parking spaces.
“It all adds up, we give a little bit here, give a little bit there, and we’ve already had a parking issue,” said DeMarco.
Council President James Letterie said the process is a give and take between the town and the state.
“When you are getting $6 million, you go by MassDOT standards, and I think one of the reasons why the project originally was supposed to start at Metcalf Square and go all the way down, one of the reasons it got cut in half, was because Winthrop Street was unable to accommodate MassDOT’s requirements,” he said. “I think this is something the town has to understand in the future if there are potential projects there, and you have to talk about this before the project comes to fruition rather than after it.”
The current timeline for the Revere Street project is for it to go out to bid next summer, with construction beginning either in the late fall of 2023 or the early spring of 2024, according to Valcovic. “Then we are looking at an 18 to 24 month construction period, and would probably wrap up by the end of 2025, but it could go into the spring of 2026,” he said