An agreement on road improvements in Canton moves the University Station development in neighboring Westwood a big step closer.
Canton selectmen on Aug. 16 reached an agreement with the mixed-use project’s developer, Westwood Marketplace Holdings LLC, which will make improvements valued at $1.37 million at eight intersections and pay $1.35 million toward other traffic-related work.
The arrangement follows a vote late last month by the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization to speed up improvements to the interchange of interstates 93 and 95 near the proposed development. The new timetable provides funds for the highway work starting next year and continuing through 2020; the project had been scheduled for a four-year cycle starting in 2021.
An improved interchange is seen as crucial for the success of the 130-acre University Station project, slated for a former industrial park along University Avenue and next to the Route 128 commuter-rail and Amtrak station in Westwood. But before work on the interchange could begin, the developer needed a plan to prevent snarled traffic in the Dedham Street corridor and adjacent neighborhoods in Canton.
University Station is the successor to the Westwood Station proposal, a much larger development that was stalled for years, and eventually scuttled, by financing problems and local concerns over traffic and other issues. The revised plan by the property’s new owners calls for a 2.1-million-square-foot development with housing, retail and office space, and a hotel, with the main entrance off Blue Hill Drive in Westwood, according to a statement from Canton’s selectmen.
The statement also said that Westwood Marketplace Holdings is committed to supporting road upgrades to the Dedham Street area that may be partly funded by the regional planning agency through the state’s Transportation Improvement Program. The improvements include adding an off-ramp from I-95 north to Dedham Street, widening three bridges over the highway, the railroad tracks, and the Neponset River, and adding signals and sidewalks — a total of about $30 million of work.
Those improvements may begin as early as next year, according to the statement, and would take two to three years to complete.