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Senator Spilka Intervenes to Keep Framingham Project Alive

July 26, 2009

Word on the Street
MetroWest Daily News
Elizabeth Banks
July 26, 2009

State Sen. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, has complained for years that MetroWest is shortchanged in the state’s long-term transportation blueprint.

So last week she intervened to keep a major project from disappearing from the priority list.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization’s official priority list, “Journey to 2030,” has considered rebuilding the intersection of routes 135 and 126 in downtown Framingham.

For at least 100 years, that bottleneck, which clogs traffic every time a train goes through town, has been the subject of intense debate. Yet another study group is getting ready to make a recommendation for an overpass, underpass, bypass or some other configuration to get north/south traffic moving.

The MPO had the project scheduled for funding between 2020 and 2025, but Spilka and other local leaders have been pushing for federal funds to get things moving sooner.

But one of Spilka’s aides and Ginger Esty, Framingham’s representative to the MPO, showed up at a meeting Thursday and found a white spot on the list where the 135/126 project had been. The MPO staff had deleted it, Spilka said.

That’s a serious problem, she said, because the feds won’t help fund even the design work on a project that isn’t on the state’s transportation priority list.

Calls were made to Spilka, who quickly called Transportation Secretary James Aloisi and Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, and then rushed across Boston Common to the MPO meeting, still in progress.

After hearing her impassioned plea, the group voted to put the Framingham project back on the list. There the 135/126 bottleneck sits, now scheduled to be fixed sometime between 2025 and 2030.

Considering the earliest recorded study of the problem intersection is dated 1910, old-timers suggest motorists stuck in downtown traffic not hold their breath waiting for the project’s completion.

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