The reconstruction of Middlesex Turnpike is planned to take place in two phases. There will be seven new intersections with traffic signals, sidewalks, and new storm water management system. Phase 2 (the project about to start) begins at the intersection of Route 62 and Network Drive in Burlington with a new four lane cross section roadway across the MITRE field connecting to Middlesex Turnpike and continuing on thru the Crosby Drive/Plank Street intersection in Bedford. Phase 3 includes the reconstruction of Middlesex Turnpike from the end of Phase 2 across new culverts carrying the Shawsheen River thru to Manning Road in Billerica. The design of this phase is under review by MassDOT at the 75% level.
Since 1995, Bedford, Burlington and Billerica have expended a combined total of $4,111,887 for engineering design services related to the Crosby Drive/Middlesex Turnpike Transportation Improvement Project. In addition, Bedford has appropriated $1,700,000 and Billerica has appropriated $850,000 for the acquisition of the right of way needed to construct the project. In addition, the Town of Bedford has completed the purchase of a sensitive conservation land for $1,600,000 to have the project comply with new USACE permit requirements. This represents a total local community commitment of $8,261,887 towards the reconstruction of this important roadway system. In addition, there has been a tremendous commitment by the abutting businesses along the corridor who have granted land and easements for the project to proceed
Although the project will impact 52,655 square feet of wetlands, the project will provide for 83,940 square feet of wetland mitigation located along a tributary to the Vine Brook on the MITRE property. All environmental permits for Phase 2 of Middlesex Turnpike have been approved.
The environmental permitting process for Phase 3 is underway by preparing the variance request for the project. The design is currently being modified based on initial comments by DEP regarding the stormwater management system. The TriTown Committee has been working collaboratively with DEP to prepare a design to meet requirements before official submittals to expedite the review period of the project.
The project will reduce or eliminate congestion in the corridor, resulting in a significant improvement in air quality. The new corridor-wide storm water management system will improve water quality throughout the Shawsheen River watershed.
Right of Way
In 2003, the Town of Bedford alone acquired 44 land parcels, 16 permanent drainage easements, and 85 temporary easements for work within Bedford to proceed. Cost to cure damages have been paid to 44 properties. Due to the length of time to implement the project, the temporary easements expired. Right of Entry permits have been acquired for all parcels within the impact of Phase 2 of the Crosby Drive/Middlesex Turnpike project and a Right of Way Certificate has been issued for this portion of the project.
The Town of Billerica voted to take the necessary land by eminent domain in their 2004 Town Meeting. In turn, the town hired an MHD approved appraiser to assess the market value of the takings required for the Phase 3 portion of the project within Billerica. The town is in the process of updating the appraisals for current market value and will be taking the land upon completion of the updated appraisal effort.
Several new developments within the Middlesex Turnpike corridor have been directed towards the Smart Growth concept. Three new high density residential housing developments on Middlesex Turnpike have been recently completed or are underway, allowing affordable housing opportunities within walking distance of quality jobs. Mixed use developments have even provided retail and restaurants within this previously industrial only area. The concentration of potential riders has assisted mass transit with scheduled service by the MBTA and LRTA. The project provides means for less reliance on the automobile including the installation of sidewalks and bike lanes which do not presently exist on Middlesex Turnpike.
The area businesses are filling up rapidly, approaching a high level of occupancy, as witnessed by the recent move of I Robot, Zink, and GSI into the project area. The infrastructure of the area must be improved to sustain the economic viability of this corridor. Towns along the entire Route 3 North corridor are meeting regularly to discuss common interests in managing the growth of this desirable area for businesses. The Town of Bedford is committed to spending at least $900,000 to replace the water main within the project so that adequate water supply and fire fighting capabilities continue to be present.