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Regional agency approves transportation plan

Regional planning officials recently signed off on a four-year transportation improvement program that prioritizes federal funding for road and bridge projects, many of which are designed to relieve congestion and improve safety in local communities including Brookline, Medway, Southborough, and Wayland.

The plan also lines up funding for several ongoing, multiyear projects, such as bridge replacements along Route 128 in Needham and Wellesley, repaving along Interstate 495 in Wrentham and Franklin, and the reconstruction of a Route 2 intersection in Concord and Lincoln.

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The Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, which makes decisions on how federal transportation dollars are spent in the area, voted last week to include money for the projects in its Transportation Improvement Program for 2014-2017. The plan still needs final approval from the Federal Highway Administration, and is subject to availability of federal dollars.

Town and city officials say they are thrilled the projects are moving forward, with many of them having been in the works for years.

“It’s long overdue,’’ Sarkis Sarkisian, Wayland’s director of planning, said of the plan to reconstruct and widen the intersection of routes 27 and 30 and put in new signals. “It’s dangerous and needs to be corrected and reconstructed.’’

The $2 million project, slated for funding in 2016, will improve safety for both vehicles and pedestrians, Sarkisian said. He said the road will be widened, new signals with left-hand arrow lights will be installed, and new sidewalks put in.

“Everything needs to be totally improved,’’ he said.

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Also included in the plan is $5 million to reconstruct Main Street in Southborough, with its funding targeted for 2017.

Karen Galligan, the superintendent of Southborough’s Department of Public Works, said planning for the work started in 1999.

She said one of the major components of the project is to reconstruct the sidewalks along Main Street, which is home to a library, schools, and businesses.

Currently, the section’s sidewalks are level with the street, so drivers parking their vehicles tend to encroach on areas that are used by pedestrians.

“All the kids try to walk downtown and the sidewalks aren’t passable because of the vehicles,’’ Galligan said.

She said the project will also add a left-turn lane at the intersection of routes 85 and 30 to help with congestion, and a traffic light will be added near the police and fire station, so public safety vehicles can safely access the street, which is often backed up.

Medway’s business district is also slated to get a face lift with about $11.2 million in 2015 and 2016. The Route 109 reconstruction project will focus on resurfacing and reconstruction, sidewalks, signs, street lighting, and aesthetic improvements. Signal upgrades will be implemented at the intersection of Main, Franklin, Milford, and Highland streets, including widening for turn lanes.

David D’Amico, deputy director of Medway’s Department of Public Services, said the 1.5-mile stretch of road is in desperate need of sidewalks on both sides and new turning lanes. The area will be enhanced with period lighting and plantings to make the area more visually appealing, with the hopes of attracting more pedestrian traffic.

“We’re trying to change the flavor of the area,’’ he said.

Brookline also has plans to improve access for pedestrians along Route 9 in the Village Square area, said Joseph Viola, the town’s assistant director for community planning.

The project calls for widening sidewalks, and putting in an at-grade pedestrian crossing in the heart of the village, Viola said.

The regional transportation plan includes about $4.3 million for the project in 2015.

Other projects in the plan include the installation of a traffic signal in Holliston at an intersection of routes 16 and 126, and repaving of Route 85 in Marlborough.

Jennifer Fenn Lefferts can be reached at jflefferts@ yahoo.com

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