By Dan Miller, Contributing writer
WESTBOROUGH – New funding made available by the recent passage of federal infrastructure legislation could help fund proposed safety improvements at the intersection of Otis Street and Route 9 in Westborough, according to discussions during the board meeting on November 23.
Massachusetts is expected to receive up to $ 13 billion in funding for infrastructure improvements as a result of the legislation, according to preliminary estimates presented to the council by State Senator Michael Moore.
Westborough Joins New Senate District
Moore was at the November 23 meeting primarily to introduce himself to the board of directors, as Westborough will soon be part of the Senate District of Moore. Change is the result of electoral redistribution following the 2020 census.
Westborough is currently part of Senator Jamie Eldridge’s Middlesex and Worcester district. In January, the city will be part of the new Moore State Senate District, which Moore said will also include Auburn, Millbury, Grafton, Shrewsbury and up to about 40 percent of Worcester.
“It’s a really dangerous intersection”
Moore said federal infrastructure legislation is expected to inject up to $ 9 billion into Massachusetts, with up to an additional $ 4 billion for “separate programming.”
Moore said it was not yet known what restrictions would be in place on the money, but he encouraged the Select Board to put together a list of infrastructure projects that need to be addressed at Westborough.
The most pressing need, according to Select Board member Ian Johnson, is improved safety at the intersection of Otis Street and Route 9.
“This intersection is where we have a lot of crashes,” Johnson said, noting the large Arrive apartment complex that overlooks the intersection. “We would be delighted to give [residents] safe access to the other side of Highway 9.
“Now we are taking them across where there is no crosswalk,” he continued. “It really is a dangerous intersection.”
Moore asked if the city had a cost estimate for the project, to which Johnson replied “a lot.”
Board chairman Allen Edinberg noted that one option could involve installing a median wide enough to protect pedestrians who cannot cross the street in a single light cycle.
Edinberg added that the improvements discussed are not only important for residents of the apartment complex and those who use the roads feeding the intersection. They are also important in supporting continued business and industrial growth impacting the intersection, he said.
He specifically mentioned the recently opened Amazon Robotics facility at AstraZeneca’s former property in town. That facility now has up to 250 full-time jobs and is expected to add about 150 more, Edinberg told Moore.
ARPA discussions continue in neighboring communities
Discussions about ARPA continue outside Westborough as local leaders weigh their options amid lingering uncertainty over such federal funding.
The Shrewsbury selectmen broke their options in a meeting last week.
Hudson’s executive assistant, meanwhile, listed ARPA’s specific priorities at a board meeting over a month ago, on November 1.
That list included funding for bridge repairs, a planned upgrade of a sewage treatment plant and office space for a set of new Department of Health hires.
Prior to either of these discussions, Southborough engaged a consultant to guide its planning and use of ARPA funds.
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