For Quincy residents, the mismatched intersection of Quincy Avenue and Howard Street has been problematic for years, causing difficulties for cars going straight on Howard Street, and posing dangerous problems for pedestrians.
Yet with help from the state, those problems may soon be resolved.
City officials, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, are working on the beginning stages of a $1.5 million reconstruction of the intersection, a project that will rebuild the streets so that the roads will come to a true four-way crossing.
“This is primarily a safety-related reconstruction of the intersection,” said mayoral spokesperson Christopher Walker. “Currently, the roads curve a little and there are dips and small hills on all sides. The new intersection will be more properly aligned to allow for safer travel, for both drivers and pedestrians. New lights will be included in the project.”
According to Walker, Mayor Thomas Koch has been working with State Representative and Majority Leader Ronald Mariano on the issue for some time, trying to get state funding to better align the road, which currently has a 40-foot offset between East and West Howard Street.
With news from MassDOT that the state will eventually fund the project, the city has taken to do the design work.
“They are at the earliest of design stages at this point,” Walker said. “Essentially it’s a total overhaul of the intersection, a complete reconstruction. What that entails in terms of potential lanes and how it works is part of the design process.”
While design is at the 25 percent phase, where the $1.5 million in construction funding would come from is yet to be determined.
The state could fund the project alongside its annual list of infrastructure requests, a process that would likely mean the intersection wouldn’t see a shovel till 2016.
Yet there are a variety of factors in the funding that could move the construction date forward.
“Right now if it were to go through the normal procedure, it could be up until 2016 that it would receive funding, but there is a chance we could tack this project on to the Fore River Bridge construction and fund it that way,” said Mike Verseckes, a MassDOT spokesperson. “It could bump it up from that 2016 timeframe. That’s something we’re exploring now, and we wont know for a little while if that’s something we could do.”
The federal government may also be able to provide funding, Verseckes said.
While there may be somewhat of a wait while the design is completed and funding is identified, the project is an important one to at least get moving on, Verseckes said.
“There is a need for this. The two ends of Howard Street do not match up, and it’s a confusing intersection. It can be improved and tweaked so that it’s safer and simplified,” he said.
MassDOT and the city hosted a public hearing on the project on Monday night to acquaint the neighborhood with the project.
Going forward, MassDOT will have to secure a right-of-way in either a temporary or permanent easement. The city will be required to secure any needed rights in private or public lands.