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Braintree/Weymouth Landing improvements slated to be finished by June

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  March 30, 2012 04:44 PM

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Jessica Bartlett for the Boston Globe

(From left) Braintree DPW Director Tom Walen, Braintree Planning and Community Development Personnel Director Christine Stickney, Braintree Assistant Town Engineer John Morse, Weymouth Mayor Susan Kay, Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan, and Weymouth Planning and Community Development Director James Clarke all played an integral role in the revitalization of the Braintree/Weymouth Landing.

The East Braintree/Weymouth Landing revitalization is expected to be finished in June despite delays with the project over the last year and a half.

The project is intended to jump-start an area with several closed storefronts and the Greenbush line nearby.

The effort began when both communities jointly won a $2.4 million Public Works Economic Development grant from the state in 2009 to aid the visual components of the street, including renovations of sidewalks, streetlights and crosswalks, to bus shelters and park entrances.

In October of 2010, the communities joined together to revise their zoning policies to make the area more cohesive and more attractive to businesses.

Groundbreaking took place in June of 2011. Now, after months of construction on the underground portion of the roadway, the aboveground construction – namely sidewalks, street furniture, and landscaping - is ready to begin.

Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan said that a problem arose when crews were working on an $800,000 water main project in the area.

Replacing the 100-year-old pipe proved more difficult than earlier anticipated, delaying the project as a whole.

“It’s taken a little longer than we expected…but we will see a streetscape improvement project that will generate private development,” Sullivan said. “But the worst thing we could have done would be to do cosmetic improvements and not meet infrastructure needs.”

Despite delays, things have since moved forward.

By Friday, majority of the underground work was complete, improving water quality in the area. Additionally National Grid crews are working on gas lines in both Weymouth and Braintree all day and night to finish any remaining projects.

Any other sidewalk paving or infrastructure repair will occur over the next four weeks, with “bump-outs” at Weymouth Post Office and Brookside beginning next week.

Along with the sidewalk, the remaining Public Works activities will be fleshed out in upcoming months. Tree plantings and landscaping for the park entrance in Weymouth are planned for the middle of May, a new covered bys enclosure on Quincy Ave is scheduled to arrive, milling and paving will begin in June, and benches, trash barrels, bike racks, and other sidewalk furniture will come in by the end of the project in June.

“There is great potential to make it a vibrant village,” Weymouth Mayor Susan Kay said.

Both mayors were dismayed by the fact that weekend service on the Greenbush commuter line was endangered by proposed MBTA cuts. However the mayors were hopeful that the revitalization will draw customers regardless of the mode of transportation.

Although they differ on what types of businesses the new center will bring, both mayors have also begun discussions with some retailers and private investors about developing markets, housing, and restaurants in the area.

In addition to the PWED grants, $95,000 from the Office of Fishing and Boating will build a boat launch on the Weymouth side of the landing, the towns are working on a storefront improvement initiative, and new signage will help make visitors more aware of parking.

Officials are also hoping to press the MBTA for funding to relocate and daylight the Culvert, which currently goes through the municipal parking lot.

The $500,000-$1 million project would potentially shorten the culvert and move it to the edge of the parking lot. Currently, the plan is receiving approvals through the Department of Environmental Protections and through the town’s Conservation Commissions.

All in all, while the project has been ongoing for several months now, “we’re winding up now,” Kay said.

“Now that it’s coming to a successful conclusion, we can beat the drum aggressively,” Sullivan said.

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