Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced funding today for a massive transportation project in western Massachusetts.
Governor Deval Patrick announced $200 million will be spent to replace deteriorating concrete decks on the elevated section of Interstate 91 in downtown Springfield while simultaneously studying the possibility of depressing a portion of the highway to street level or below.
Patrick announced the project during a speech at a lunch hosted by the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield.
Repairing or replacing the viaduct that carries 2-and-a-half miles of I-91 through downtown Springfield has been identified as a major priority by business and civic leaders and regional planners. The elevated highway opened in 1968. It currently carries 75,000 vehicles per day. The urgency for the project was underscored earlier this month when part of a parking garage that sits directly beneath the highway was closed because of falling pieces of concrete.
Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Richard Davey said the deck replacement work will begin one year from now and it is estimated that it will take three construction seasons to complete.
The deck replacement work will be done on the section of the elevated highway that has to remain in place because it is over railroad tracks and connects to Interstate 291. Davey said while this work is taking place there will be studies done and public meetings held to look at what should happen with the rest of the elevated highway.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno believes there is what he called “ a generational opportunity” to connect the city’s downtown with the Connecticut River Waterfront by eliminating the highway overpass.
While in Springfield Tuesday, Patrick announced funding for a second project. $1.2 million will be used to create the first-ever day camp that provides therapeutic recreation for children and young adults.
Springfield Parks Director Patrick Sullivan said the city previously committed $600,000 to build a permanent home for the Camp Star Angelina program in the city’s Forest Park
The camp will have a pool, bathhouse, trails and an amphitheater.