WOBURN - City Engineer Jay Corey last night released additional details about ongoing talks with East Woburn's business community to create a new slip ramp onto I-93 from Cedar Street.
The city engineer's brief presentation came roughly five-months after the aldermen formally asked Mayor Scott Galvin to provide an update about the potential highway infrastructure project.
In April, Ward 5 Alderman Darlene Mercer-Bruen explained Galvin's office had recently joined with Cummings Properties President Dennis Clarke to pursue the slip-ramp concept, which could sweep considerable amounts of traffic off of the busy Washington Street corridor.
At the time, Mercer-Bruen, who had sponsored a resolve asking for additional information, wanted to see if her colleagues would join in supporting the partnership.
"It's a real way to get traffic off of Washington Strreet, and we're not taking about billions of dollars or taking anyone's homes or properties," the Ward 5 alderman said in an interview last spring. "I think the ultimate goal is to get this on the radar."
The idea of erecting a slip ramp from the end of Cedar Street, a dead-end thoroughfare off Washington Street near the Hilton Woburn Hotel and BJ's Wholesale, was first proposed well over a decade ago as part of MassHighway's ill-fated plans to modernize the I-93/95 cloverleaf.
Under that proposal, which ultimately died alongside the doomed interchange design, a temporary connection onto I-93 southbound would be established to facilitate traffic flow during construction of the new cloverleaf flyovers.
However, with the Woburn Landing and Woburn Foreign Motors developments bringing even greater congestion to the Washington Street corridor over the past year, Mercer-Bruen approached Clarke last winter and suggested dusting off the state's old slip-ramp plans.
"Last year, I reached out to Dennis and asked what he thought about it. [MassDOT] had always said the slip ramp was going to be temporary, but we always thought [that proposed improvement would ultimately become permanent]," Mercer-Bruen explained in a recent interview.
At the time, Clarke, whose company has considerable real-estate interests in East Woburn, explained Cummings Properties would be happy to contribute funding to update the old design. Galvin, then brought into the fold, ultimately sought and obtained permission to tap a portion of city mitigation fund to utilize the services of transportation engineering firm Stantec to review the design.
Since those discussions, the previous congestion on Washington Street has vastly improved with the addition of new adaptive traffic signals, which adjust the entire corridor's light signals based off of real-time conditions.
While heralding that change, city officials still believe the Cedar Street slip ramp could drastically improve traffic conditions not only on Washington Street, but on surrounding roads used by commuters each day. And unlike the larger I-93/95 cloverleaf proposal, which would have resulted in the seizure of dozens of homes in Reading, Stoneham, and Woburn, the state's plans for the Cedar Street solution could be implemented with no land takings.