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Quincy and Howard intersection preps for overhaul

The mismatched intersection of Quincy Avenue and Howard Street has posed challenges for cars and pedestrians alike for years. Yet with help from the state, those problems may soon be resolved.

City officials, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, are in the early stages of a $1.5 million reconstruction of the intersection, a project that would rebuild the streets so that the roads will come to a true four-way crossing.

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“This is primarily a safety-related reconstruction of the intersection,” said mayoral spokesman Christopher Walker.

“Currently, the roads curve a little and there are dips and small hills on all sides. The new intersection will be more properly aligned to allow for safer travel, for both drivers and pedestrians. New lights will be included in the project.”

According to Walker, Mayor Thomas Koch and House Majority Leader Ronald Mariano, a Quincy Democrat, have been working to get state funding to better align the road, which has a 40-foot offset between East and West Howard Street.

With news from MassDOT that the state will eventually fund the project, the city has begun the design work. The $50,000 to $75,000 for design work will come from the Quarry Hills Public Improvement account, which is funded by a portion of fees collected at the Granite Links Golf Course.

“They are at the earliest of design stages at this point,” Walker said. “Essentially, it’s a total overhaul of the intersection, a complete reconstruction. What that entails in terms of potential lanes and how it works is part of the design process.”

While the design is about one-fourth complete, the source of the $1.5 million in construction funding is yet to be determined.

The state could fund the project alongside its annual list of infrastructure requests, a process that probably means the intersection won’t see a shovel for more than three years.

Yet there are a variety of factors that could move the construction date forward.

Under normal procedures, funding would probably be received in 2016, said Mike Verseckes, a MassDOT spokesman. But the project could be tacked onto the Fore River Bridge construction, which “could bump it up from that 2016 timeframe. That’s something we’re exploring now, and we won’t know for a little while if that’s something we could do,” he said.

The federal government may also be able to provide funding, Verseckes said.

While completing the design and identifying the funding will take time, the project is an important one to at least get moving on, he said.

“There is a need for this. The two ends of Howard Street do not match up, and it’s a confusing intersection. It can be improved and tweaked so that it’s safer and simplified,” he said.

MassDOT and the city hosted a public hearing on the project last Monday to acquaint the neighborhood with the project.

Going forward, the state will have to secure a right-of-way in either a temporary or permanent easement. The city will be required to secure any rights in private or public lands.

Jessica Bartlett can be reached at jessica.may.bartlett@g-mail.com.

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