For Immediate Release - October 05, 2012

$8 MILLION ANNOUNCED TO ADDRESS TRAFFIC REMEDIATION IN DOWNTOWN FRAMINGHAM

Funding will alleviate chronic traffic at the intersection of Routes 126 and 135

FRAMINGHAM – Friday, October 5, 2012 – Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray today joined federal, state, and local officials to announce $8 million in funding from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to mitigate chronic traffic congestion at the intersections of Route 126 and Route 135 in downtown Framingham. Lieutenant Governor Murray also announced an additional $350,000 in funding awarded by MassDOT to support a study that will evaluate four potential solutions identified by previous studies and help the state and Town of Framingham move towards a long-term solution for addressing traffic at this critical intersection in Framingham’s downtown district.

“The intersection of Routes 126 and 135, or Concord Street and Waverly Street, have experienced significant delays for vehicles and pedestrian traffic for decades,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray. “Despite planning reports and studies over the years, a viable solution has not been addressed. However, our Administration has stayed at the table in working with local officials to be proactive and this funding will provide much needed relief for downtown commuters, residents, and businesses.” 

The $8 million in funding, including state and federal funding, will be incorporated by MassDOT and the Town of Framingham through improvements into the existing project to upgrade Route 126 between Lincoln Street and Irving Street, currently in the design phase and expected to be advertised in Fiscal Year 2013. Upon completion of this project, MassDOT will observe traffic conditions in the corridor and report back on the change in congestion and queuing with the new designs.

“The revitalization of downtown Framingham and the traffic improvements to this busy intersection will benefit local businesses and commuters alike,” said Congressman Edward Markey. “Today marks the first step in providing long overdue relief to the traffic congestion that has hampered this community for years. I look forward to working with Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray and the Patrick Administration to seeing this project through to completion.”

"A safe, reliable transportation system is essential to a healthy and vibrant economy," said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard Davey. "The improvements we make at this intersection will help reduce traffic and improve public safety for the residents and visitors of this busy community."

Infrastructure improvements to remediate traffic at this intersection will include upgrades to the existing signal equipment, installation of improved crosswalks and ADA ramps, installation of more advanced train pre-emption systems, upgraded traffic signal plans and/or the use of Adaptive Signal Control. To assist in the evaluation of corridor improvements, MassDOT is currently drafting a Road Safety Audit along the Route 126 corridor. The audit will be ready later this year.

“Resolving the problem of traffic gridlock created by the railroad grade crossing and the intersection of Routes 126 and 135 is critical to the future of downtown Framingham,” said Framingham Town Manager Robert J. Halpin. “The strength of the partnership between our federal, state, and local governments in tackling both the short term and long term solutions to this problem has been exceptional and will be the key to our success as we move forward. A special thank you to the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Murray and to Congressman Edward Markey for their outstanding support for what we are trying to accomplish in the Downtown area.”

"I am very pleased that these short-term solutions to the at-grade crossing issue are moving forward immediately to improve our public safety, economic prosperity, and quality of life,” said State Senator Karen Spilka. “We have taken many steps to spur economic growth in our community and in order to fully revitalize downtown Framingham, we must resolve and remediate this intersection once and for all. This critical project hinges on not only financial support but also on continued collaboration on all levels - state, federal and local  - going forward so that a long-term plan can be finalized to give Framingham the permanent solution it has spent the last 100 years waiting for.”

“The intersection of the Railroad, Route 126 and Route 135 in the heart of downtown Framingham has been a bottleneck since the advent of the automobile,” said State Representative Chris Walsh. “Now as we are planning and working to rebuild our transportation system to work for us in the 21st century it is imperative that this intersection be upgraded. The Patrick-Murray Administration has been working with state and local officials to improve both the commuter rail reliability and traffic congestion and this project is a huge first step in creating both a high speed rail link to Worcester while maximizing the livability, walk-ability and quality of life in downtown Framingham.”

“Downtown Framingham is critical to economic growth in the region,” said State Representative Tom Sannicandro. “As we ease the traffic in this area and fix the rail crossing, we’re going to see more commerce, more businesses open, more jobs, and economic development that will benefit all of the MetroWest.”

The announcement falls on the heels of Lieutenant Governor Murray finalizing the historic agreement between CSX Corporation and the Commonwealth, which is paving the way for additional train service along the Framingham/Worcester line. By working closely with local and state officials, Lieutenant Governor Murray announced additional funding for this critical infrastructure project in Framingham to proactively plan and prepare for traffic remediation as the Commonwealth takes over ownership and control from CSX of the rail tracks along the Framingham/Worcester line. As a result of the Commonwealth’s agreement with CSX, including ownership and control of the tracks along the Framingham/Worcester line, railroad gate down times in Framingham have already reduced from approximately 21 minutes to approximately 11.5 minutes in the AM peak hour, and down from approximately 9.5 minutes to 6.5 minutes in the evening PM hour. While this has led to reductions in traffic congestion, today’s funding announcement will build on this trend to reduce traffic once construction is complete and adaptive signal control technology is in place.

Lieutenant Governor Murray also announced yesterday that as a result of the agreement with CSX, beginning October 29, 2012, the Commonwealth will immediately increase commuter rail service on the Framingham/Worcester line between Boston and Worcester with the addition of three new inbound and three new outbound trains between the two cities for a total of 31 stops arriving or departing Worcester station. In addition to this new train service, one inbound special express and one outbound special express train will be added in the spring of 2013 for the Patrick-Murray Administration to reach the goal of 20 round trips by October 2013.

“Investments in traffic calming measures and streetscape improvements are critical components in attracting further commercial investment in downtown Framingham,” said Bonnie Biocchi, President and CEO of the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce. “The MetroWest Chamber applauds the Patrick-Murray Administration and our legislative partners for funding these important improvements and for their transformative changes to the rail system that services and affects downtown Framingham. These investments will yield long-term benefits to Framingham including stimulating economic activity, improving traffic flow, increasing pedestrian safety, and cultivating greater aesthetic appeal throughout downtown.”

"While the CSX transaction has already brought real benefits to downtown Framingham, this state funding will bring further improvements to our traffic flow and is much appreciated," said Paul Matthews, Executive Director of the 495/Metrowest Partnership. "The Patrick-Murray Administration has been a true partner in addressing this problem, and recognizes downtown Framingham's importance to the entire 495/MetroWest region, as well as the inter-relationship between transportation and economic development."

To learn more about the Commonwealth’s historic agreement with CSX Corporation and the Patrick-Murray Administration’s investment in rail transportation, visit www.mass.gov/governor/rail.

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