WINCHESTER - With all the money Town Meeting approved for various bridge and traffic improvement projects, 2020 may become the year of gridlock in Winchester.
This month, Town Meeting approved money for bridge repair/replacement work at Lake Street and Waterfield Road, plus OK’d additional money to work on the Swanton Street Bridge culvert project. Members also appropriated funds for traffic improvement at several intersections: Church Street at Waterfield Road, Main Street at Washington Street and Mystic Valley Parkway at Waterfield Road.
Combine all this with the upcoming Eversource 115kV project and there won’t be many areas in town not affected by some type of construction next year. However, don’t expect every project to commence at the same time. It would behoove the town to space them out, and town officials did mention that possibility.
(One positive: Winchester is known as a cut-through town for many people heading to Woburn/Burlington or Medford and points south, but with all the possible road/bridge work, drivers may avoid the town thereby lessening traffic somewhat.)
For the two projects in the area of McCall Middle School - Main at Washington Street and Mystic Valley Parkway at Waterfield Road - design plans are complete for the first intersection and nearly complete for the second. Both projects will exceed $1M with the Mystic Valley Parkway intersection running over $750,000 alone. Both projects include a 20-30 percent contingency.
Toole Design Group, who’s working with the town on both projects, said they hope to bid the projects out during the winter and start construction next spring. It’s not yet know if they’ll bid both projects together or separately, but the bidding process could be more competitive if the projects are bundled.
With road work and bridge work scheduled for Waterfield Road, Toole said they would tie the two together.
When it comes to the two bridge projects - Lake Street and Waterfield Road - Capital Planning Committee members voted to bond both projects, which means the town will pay the cost down over time with interest. The other option involved a “pay as you go” strategy; however, the committee needs the extra money to complete other projects and fund departmental needs (such as equipment for the DPW).
With the project in the intersection of Church Street and Waterfield Road, the Select Board originally approved some short-term changes including the removal of several parking spaces. Longer term changes include narrowing the road to shorten the crosswalk. The town should begin construction on the long-term improvements by the spring.
Lastly, when it comes to the Swanton Street Bridge work, once complete, the town will only need to finish one more flood mitigation project at the Muraco School. At that point, Winchester will finally be done with flood mitigation work.