The state has selected a contractor to rebuild a section of Route 2 near Crosby’s Corner in Concord and Lincoln, and is awaiting the final contract authorization before construction can start on the long-awaited project.
The state Department of Transportation’s board of directors was expected to authorize the contract with Acushnet-based D.W. White Construction for $42.2 million last week, but the vote was delayed. It is now expected to be taken up at the board’s meeting in May, said Cyndi Roy, a Transportation Department spokeswoman.
Local officials are eager for the project to get underway, and hope construction starts this summer.
“It’s always been a safety issue,’’ said Greg Howes, a Concord selectman. “That was the driving force behind it. And number two, we hope it improves rush-hour traffic flow.’’
The project will replace the existing intersection of Route 2, Route 2A, and Cambridge Turnpike with an elevated highway interchange to reduce congestion and improve safety. There are traffic signals at the intersection and a sloping downhill curve that turns sharply to the left heading west. Traffic is so heavy and fast that Route 2 homeowners have trouble exiting and entering their driveways, said Sara Mattes, chairwoman of the Lincoln Board of Selectmen.
The project calls for constructing neighborhood service roads parallel to Route 2; Mattes said they will allow local residents to use Bedford Road without getting on the highway.
“It will be important in the quality of life for residents along the Route 2 corridor,’’ Mattes said.
“They will be able to exit and enter safely. It will bring back some sense of a neighborhood along that corridor,’’ she said.
The construction work will start at the Bedford Road intersection in Lincoln, and extend to 300 feet west of Sandy Pond Road in Concord. Once construction starts, it’s expected to take three years and eight months to complete, Roy said.
Concord resident Tom Fleming, who travels Route 2 in his commute to Cambridge, has been frustrated by the lengthy planning and design process.
“People are spending $4 a gallon for gas and people are out of work,’’ said Fleming, who experiences the traffic congestion but also sees commuters cutting through local neighborhoods to avoid the highway. “The lack of urgency really smacks you in the face, and causes people to lose confidence in government.’’
Roy, the transportation department spokeswoman, said the project was advertised for bids in the fall, but final design took longer than expected to finalize. She said there also were “extensive environmental permitting issues’’ involving wetlands that needed to be addressed.
While the contract was on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting, the board didn’t have time to vote on it, Roy said.
Roy said once the board authorizes the contract, a conference will be arranged to outline a preliminary construction schedule. She said a public meeting will be held to update residents and town officials as the project unfolds.
Town officials said the end result will be a huge improvement, but the construction period will cause headaches for commuters and residents.
“In the short-term, it will be a coordination nightmare with people trying to escape construction,’’ Mattes said.
Howes, the Concord selectman, said there are other proposed projects in Concord, such as bridge improvements, that will likely exacerbate the traffic problem on local streets.
“People will try to avoid Route 2 and meander through the back roads,’’ he said. “It will create rush-hour difficulties for everyone.’’
Howes said town officials will work diligently with the state to make sure residents are well informed about the changes to traffic patterns.
“It’s going to be several years of difficulty, but at the end of the day it’s a project everyone agrees should happen.’’Jennifer Fenn Lefferts can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.