MassDOT Updates Council on Bennington Street Project

By Adam Swift

MassDOT recently updated the Town Council on a pilot project on a stretch of Bennington Street in East Boston and Revere that could impact traffic in the town.

While the project, which is intended to slow traffic on the stretch of road by decreasing the lanes from four to two and adding a bike path, is not in Winthrop, Council President James Letterie requested the meeting with MassDOT officials to stay ahead of the curve.

“We like to be involved,” said Letterie. “We have one way in and one way out (in Winthrop), and that stretch of Bennington Street is really the conduit between the two points.”

At last week’s council meeting, Michael Trepanier of MassDOT presented the preliminary plans for a pilot program for the Bennington Street reconfiguration.

While there will be the elimination of a travel lane in either direction, Trepanier said the main focus of the pilot program is to slow down traffic, increase safety, and potentially tie into larger regional traffic and bicycle and pedestrian traffic initiatives.

Plans for the project are currently at the 25 percent level, and that while the work, consisting largely of painting, striping, and plastic markers, could take place by next summer, Trepanier said it is too early to say that date is a certainty.

“We’ve got a lot of process to work through at MassDOT,” said Trepanier. “We’re at 25 percent design, which is really our draft design.”

While not a fully involved federal style project, he said the final plans will need to be reviewed by MassDOT and the cities of Boston and Revere before going through a formal permitting process.

“In an ideal world, we would have consensus and full support and buy-in,” said Trepanier, with the restriping taking place in late spring and early summer.

However, he noted that MassDOT still has some homework to do, especially with the Revere City Council, which has expressed some concern about narrowing Bennington Street from four to two lanes.

Trepanier said MassDOT has undertaken similar projects on roadways with higher volumes and that those projects have been successful and improved safety.

He also noted that while the Bennington Street project does not add significantly to the state’s bicycle network, it is part of a larger effort of an interstate system of offroad, high-comfort bicycle and walking pathways that Winthrop could take advantage of.

Letterie said he would like Winthrop to have some further input on the plans, especially since the Sumner Tunnel is going to be closed 24/7 from the spring through the fall.

“The traffic patterns on the weekends (when the tunnel is closed) are incredibly high on that stretch, and striping when the tunnel is closed could be a struggle for Winthrop, and we’d like some input on that,” said Letterie.

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