WESTFORD -- If all goes according to plan, the length of Boston Road -- effectively the most traveled gateway from Interstate 495 into town -- could look significantly different in several years.
Town officials are exploring plans for a major reconstruction project of the road, one that would blend much-needed infrastructure repairs with the addition of bike lanes, cosmetic improvements and more.
The main impetus comes from the former category. Town Manager Jodi Ross said water lines and other pipes underneath the road need to be updated, and in order to acquire Massachusetts Department of Transportation money for the project, Westford officials are planning to include other improvements.
"The main purpose is the infrastructure under the road is aging," Ross said. "If you want to use MassDOT funds, you have to put a sidewalk to certain specifications and you have to put bike lanes. But we do want to keep the public safe."
The plan is one with a long-term view -- Ross estimated construction would not begin until 2022 -- but momentum has been gaining in recent weeks. Selectmen discussed the topic last week, and in October, employees from the engineering department hosted a public hearing with abutters along the road.
At this point, the plan calls for MassDOT to fund the full $6 million cost, Ross said.
Ross said about 15 percent of the project has been designed so far.
"If you travel in town, you will see people do walk down that road," Ross said. "I think this will help them walk all the way down to Cornerstone safely and bike."
Abutters seem to be on board at this point. A meeting with more than 30 people present was "helpful," Town Engineer Paul Starratt wrote in a letter to Ross, and the town manager said she does not believe the town will need to conduct any eminent-domain land-taking to complete the project.
Between the roadway plans, the construction of a new fire station at 65 Boston Road and whatever will end up happening with the former Drew Gardens property, the entryway to Westford will be significantly different in the next decade than it has been for recent years.
Traffic impacts are likely, though, whenever construction does begin.
"It's going to be a big deal because that's a heavily trafficked road," Ross said. "There will be some disruptions to traffic flow when it happens, but it definitely needs to be done because of the aging infrastructure."
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