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LYNN

Lack of parking a worry on road upgrade plan

Even as they welcome the overall project, Lynn officials are expressing some concern about the preliminary design of a planned state upgrade of the Route 129 section of Broadway.

Their worries, which reflect those raised by businesses and residents at a recent public hearing, include the planned removal of several parking spaces in the business area, and the possible lack of enough spaces near residential homes at the southern end of the project.

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“Overall, we are excited about the project,’’ James Marsh, the city’s community development director, said by e-mail. “However, this is our opportunity and the residents’ opportunity to express concerns and effectuate change with any issues they have with it.’’

Marsh said the plan to eliminate several spaces from the business section of the roadway comes as the city has been seeking to identify funds to add additional spaces to an adjacent municipal lot to accommodate the parking needs of local merchants.

“We are actively looking for money to do that, and the plan is proposing we go backwards and take away parking,’’ Marsh said.

The city similarly plans to push to have more parking spaces included at the intersection of Broadway and Boston Street than are called for in the current design.

The plan calls for some new spaces along the southern section of Broadway, but not as far down as Boston Street, according to Jay Fink, the city’s public works commissioner. He said residents who live at that intersection presently park on the sidewalks because they have no driveways, and parking on the street is not allowed.

‘As the project moves forward, we are continuing to review public feedback . . . ’

Michael Verseckes State transportation official
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“As the project moves forward, we are continuing to review public feedback from residents and city officials,’’ said Michael Verseckes, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. “We want to do our best to accommodate or incorporate those suggestions into what becomes the final design.’’

Now about a quarter of the way through its design stage, the project is intended to improve traffic flow and enhance the safety of motorists and pedestrians along the Route 129 section of Broadway, about a half-mile of roadway that extends from Wyoma Square - where Broadway intersects with Lynnfield Street and Parkland Avenue - to Boston Street.

The northern part of Broadway, from about Magnolia Avenue to Lynnfield Street, is a business area. The portion south is largely residential.

Fink said the project is desperately needed to address the traffic problems that afflict a stretch of roadway that also includes a city fire station, abuts Flax Pond on its southern end, and is near a complex of two schools on its northern end.

“It takes significant traffic through it every day in many directions, and there are portions of it that are not uniform,’’ he said. “There are areas that are very wide with two lanes, and areas so narrow that two lanes act almost like a lane and a half.’’

The proposed improvements include street resurfacing; sidewalk reconstruction; upgrades to three existing traffic signals; and a new signal at the fire station across from Hudson Street to be activated during emergency responses. The project also involves adding right and left turn lanes, and reconfiguring the road to make it a more uniform corridor with two lanes in each direction, Fink said.

The city is covering the estimated $400,000 cost of the design, which is being undertaken by Beta Engineering of Norwood, Fink said. The state Department of Transportation is funding the estimated $5.4 million construction cost.

City officials, with help from state Senator Thomas M. McGee, a Lynn Democrat, successfully advocated to have the Boston Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization restore the project to its funding list for fiscal years 2012-2015.

In a letter to the planning organization in July, Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy called the project a continuation of the city’s efforts to improve the Route 129 corridor, “a major north/south arterial that carries 39,000 vehicles [per day] and acts as a regional connection to I-95/Route 128, Peabody, and beyond.

“Currently, this roadway is in a state of serious disrepair and over the years has become a public safety issue,’’ she wrote of the stretch of Broadway involved in the project, noting that from 2007 through 2009, 150 accidents occurred along the road.

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