IF YOU GO

MassDOT will hold a public meeting about the Route 110 resurfacing project Tuesday, June 18, starting at 6 pm, at Harmony Hall, 1624 Lakeview Ave., Dracut.

 

Methuen-area residents will have the opportunity to weigh in on the state’s proposed Route 110 resurfacing project – a project that has already been revised after residents and business owners raised concerns about it – at a public meeting this month.

MassDOT will hold the meeting Tuesday, June 18, starting at 6 pm, at Harmony Hall, 1624 Lakeview Ave., Dracut.

“All views and comments made at the meeting will be reviewed and considered to the maximum extent possible,” the department states on its website.

The project includes resurfacing and related work on 6.3 miles of Route 110 in Lowell, Dracut and Methuen from the Merrimack River bike path in Lowell in the west to Riverside Drive in Methuen in the east, according to the state.

A design public hearing was held last September and a public informational meeting followed in January to present the project to the public and receive feedback. The design team met with officials from Methuen and Dracut and took comments from them and other public officials to refine the design. They expect to finalize their design this summer and advertise the project for construction.

According to MassDOT spokesperson John Goggin, the total project cost is approximately $17 million, and the work will be funded through the FY24 National Highway Performance Program.

Project design standards are set by the MassDOT Project Development and Design Guide, and PDDG considers non-motorized transportation modes as fundamental to the design process, according to the department.

“MassDOT’s number one mission is to provide a safe and equitable roadway for all users,” the department states.

Last year, MassDOT’s plan included shared-use accommodations consisting of a wide 10-foot shared-use path for the full south-side length of the corridor buffered by guardrail or flex posts.

According to several officials, original plans to install a guardrail – something residents and business owners objected to – have been dropped by MassDOT.

“I think all of us agree that the guardrail is dangerous. It is going to cause issues on that road,” state Rep. Ryan Hamilton, who held a meeting with the public last winter, said earlier this year.

Markos Zygouris, who owns the Casa Blanca Mexican restaurant building on Route 110, is one of the people who have spoken out against the plan.

“Why are we shrinking the travel lane, eliminating the breakdown lane – plus all the maintenance and safety nightmares – for a lane that will barely get used?” he said earlier this year.

Information posted by the department states that the revised design no longer proposes a shared-use path along the road’s south side. There will be instead bike paths on either side of the road buffered from the vehicle lanes by area painted buffer containing flex posts, according to the department.

“All MassDOT projects need to include considerations for bikes and pedestrians. We all agree that the speeds on the road need to slow down,” the department states. “Providing narrower lanes and now buffered bike lanes will help with that speed reduction, as roadway narrowing is a proven traffic calming technique as are median islands which are also proposed at various locations.”

The department says its other ways to reduce speed include implementing a work-zone speed limit during construction, and it will later conduct a speed study to permanently reduce the speed limit.

According to the department, curb cuts will be free of any obstruction, the sidewalk along the roadway’s north side will be reconstructed to be 5 feet wide and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, and all state work will be done within the state-owned layout.

“There will be breaks in the flex posts for all driveways with plenty of space for access to your property for vehicle maneuvers, trash pickup, and mail or other delivery,” the department states.
  Construction is slated for 2025.

Jay Gee’s Ice Cream owner Rich Guiffrida is another businessperson who has raised concerns – and is still concerned – about the project. His business has been on Route 110 since 1983.

“I feel that whether it be guardrail or flexposts, to me it’s all the same thing. I still think from a safety standpoint, narrowing the road – the way they intend to narrow the road – it’s dangerous,” he said. “I think it’s going to create havoc. I think it’s going to create confusion.”

“You’re going to have people using the bike lane as an HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lane,” he added. “Is it illegal? Of course it’s illegal. But the people that don’t care are going to go down that lane. There are going to cut in and out.”

 

MassDOT’s original plan for Route 110 included a bike/pedestrian path for the full south-side length of the corridor, buffered by guardrail or flex posts. The revised plan proposes bike paths on either side of the road, buffered from the vehicle lanes by flex posts. ML photo by Melissa Fili