Update on downtown upgrade

Dec 13, 2019 by

Published in the December 13, 2019 edition.

By MARK SARDELLA

WAKEFIELD — You may not have heard much about it recently, but that doesn’t mean the Envision Wakefield downtown infrastructure upgrade project isn’t still moving forward. VHB, the civil engineering consulting firm that the town has retained for the design of the project, will be meeting with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) on Dec. 19 to go over current plans and get feedback.

Chairman Edward Dombroski provided a status update at this week’s Town Council meeting. Dombroski has taken a lead role in spearheading the project. He said that after the Dec. 19 meeting, VHB will have greater guidance and will obtain answers to some of the outstanding questions that were raised at the public forums held earlier this year.

The immediate goal is to get to the crucial 25 percent design phase for the $15 million project, Dombroski said, so that the town can get on the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for state and federal funding.

One new wrinkle, Dombroski said, is that the Albion street portion of the project has the potential to be part of the MassWorks program, which would allow that part of the project to get done faster.

At Town Meeting in November 2018, residents voted to fund a design study as part of the downtown revitalization project. The town enlisted VHB to help conceptualize improved transportation for everyone who travels to or through Wakefield center in cars, on foot, by bus or on bikes. Voters at the April 2019 Town Meeting approved funds for the second phase of design for this project. With resident and merchant input, these concepts will be used to create plans that can be submitted for state and federal funding.

Pedestrian-scale lighting, new trees and sidewalk foliage and additional medians are proposed. The plans also aim to improve the flow of traffic and create a better vehicular experience. Intersection geometries can be corrected to improve circulation, adaptive traffic signals can be installed and way-finding signs can guide residents and visitors to parking, local designations and regional routes. There are also opportunities to create parking efficiencies and enhance the beauty and vitality through streetscape improvements.

This initiative can also bring Main, Water, Albion and surrounding areas up to standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means increased safety at street crossings, including narrowing the crossing distance at some of the widest points of Main Street, and accessible sidewalks.

Dombroski said that after VHB meets with MassDOT on Dec. 19, the town will offer another series of public forums in the New Year to discuss further developments regarding the project.

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In other business this week, the Town Council:

• Approved a Change of Manager application for Tonno Wakefield at 175 North Ave.

• Approved applications from local businesses for renewals of Common Victualler Licenses, Liquor Licenses, Lodging House Licenses, Entertainment Licenses, Automated Device Licenses and Class I (new) and Class II (used) Auto Dealer Licenses.

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