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CONCORD, LINCOLN

Traffic trouble spot in Concord finally due for makeover

Crosby’s Corner redesign set to begin in fall

By Jennifer Fenn Lefferts
Globe Correspondent / April 17, 2011

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The start of the long-awaited realignment of accident-plagued Crosby’s Corner along Route 2 appears to be just a few months away.

State and local officials said that after nearly two decades of planning and funding delays, construction on the $72 million project in Concord and Lincoln is set to begin this fall.

“It actually looks like it’s going to happen,’’ said state Senator Susan Fargo, a Democrat from Lincoln. “It will happen in our lifetime. This is the farthest it’s gotten.’’

Fargo said the project has been a priority among town officials for the 30 years she’d lived in town.

“We seem to have the local, state, and federal officials lined up and working together,’’ she said. “Hopefully we can begin saving some lives at that intersection and start easing the traffic congestion.”

The Crosby’s Corner project, funded with state and federal money, will replace the existing intersection of Route 2, Route 2A, and Cambridge Turnpike with an elevated highway interchange to reduce congestion and improve overall safety, said Adam Hurtubise, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

There is no firm completion date, but officials expect it to be a 3- to 3 1/2-year construction period.

The project calls for constructing neighborhood service roads parallel to Route 2. According to a project description, the benefits of the project include the ability to safely and efficiently accommodate traffic and to provide safe access to the residences and businesses along the project corridor.

The project starts at the Bedford Road intersection in the Lincoln and extends to 300 feet west of Sandy Pond Road in Concord.

The design review is nearly complete and the state is in the process of receiving a variance from the Wetlands Protection Act because of the possible impact, Hurtubise said.

The project is scheduled to be advertised for construction bids this fall and funding has been included in the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization’s transportation improvement program over the next several fiscal years, he said.

Town officials said they are thrilled the project is finally moving forward.

“It’s a very dangerous situation that we look forward to fixing,’’ said Jeffrey Wieand, chairman of the Concord Board of Selectmen. “Safety, for sure, is the biggest reason. It’s a poorly designed intersection that doesn’t work well. Traffic needs to flow better, and that will solve the safety problem.’’

There are frequent fender-benders at the location and occasional serious accidents.

Wieand recalled one particularly bad crash about a year ago, when a tanker truck traveling westbound rolled over onto three other vehicles.

The tanker was filled with about 8,500 gallons of diesel fuel but there was no spillage. There were no fatalities, but the driver of the truck was seriously injured.

Lincoln town administrator Timothy Higgins said he’s hopeful that all the pieces are in place for the project to stay on schedule for a fall start.

He said better traffic flow could lead to a boon for local businesses, but the top priority is improving safety.

“We’ve had a significant number of major accidents at that intersection,’’ Higgins said. “This will dramatically improve safety for Lincoln residents, Concord residents, and all the commuters.’’

But before the traffic congestion eases, there will be an impact on commuters during construction, Hurtubise said. He said plans are in place to minimize the impact during rush hours.

“The bulk of the work on the project will occur at night, when fewer people are driving on the roads,’’ he said in an e-mail.

“We are also looking to sequence the work to minimize impacts further, and to improve the efficiency of the work.’’

Hurtubise said the focus of the project is to create a new alignment for Route 2 while much of the existing roadway will be used as part of the ramps that will lead to and from the realigned section.

“The new alignment will be constructed in areas that are not presently developed, so a lot of the work will not affect existing portions of Route 2,’’ he said.

“Once the new road is built, it can be tied in and the remaining construction of the ramp system and frontage roads can be completed with reduced traffic using them.’’

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