Rt. 133 Rehabilitation Project

Over the years, various Select Boards, including current and former members, have been overseeing the Rt 133 rehabilitation project.  The project has been a partnership led by the DPW Superintendent/Town Engineer, in conjunction with the Select Board, and includes the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission (MVPC), and two engineer design firms.  Planning for phase 1 of the Rt 133 rehabilitation, the 1.4-mile segment from the North Andover Town Line to the Main Street intersection, has been ongoing since 2011, when the Town and the MVPC first approached MassDOT to make phase 1 a state-funded project through the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) process.  Construction of TIP projects are funded entirely by the state through Federal grant funds, with the Town funding design of the project, in accordance with MassDOT design and process requirements.  In 2015, the project construction estimate was $4.8 million.
Project Map
Project Scope 
The Rt 133 rehabilitation project includes new pavement, including areas of full depth reconstruction, along the whole corridor of the project with soft shoulders, new line striping and paving markings, guard rail and new signage.  The Lakeshore Road and Essex Street intersections will be realigned to create safer intersections.  The closed drainage system will also be improved, including culverts, most notably the reconstruction of a major culvert near Sperry Pond at 194 Washington Street.  Additionally, stormwater quality will be improved where feasible by utilizing low-impact-design stormwater management best practices.   
After the 25% design plan package was submitted to MassDOT for review in late 2015, new traffic data collected in 2017, as well as projected future traffic increases, warranted the need to consider modifying the Washington Street and Main Street intersection to accommodate higher vehicular volumes, including the installation of traffic signals.  Increasing volumes and wait times on Main Street have created unsafe conditions, including vehicles cutting through private property to avoid queuing at the intersection, and concerns on delayed response times for call firefighters crossing Washington Street on the way to the West Station.  In 2018, the Town’s engineering design firm Bayside Engineering recommended a roundabout design that fits within the existing conditions as an alternative to a traffic signal.  The Select Board reviewed the preliminary roundabout design and requested a preliminary traffic signal design for the town to compare options. In November 2021, as an effort to restart the stalled design process and put it on a path to completion, the Select Board held a meeting for the DPW Superintendent/ Town Engineer to provide an update on the designs to date and confirm next steps. In March 2022, the Town hired engineering designer TEC, who utilized MassDOT’s Intersection Control Evaluation (ICE) tool to analyze all options for the intersection. Both the roundabout and signalized intersection are viable options based on ICE.  The Town will be receiving guidance from MassDOT on their preferred intersection design, including direction on vehicle design requirements with regards to accommodating large tractor trailers through the intersection.  The geometry and layout of the intersection will most likely dictate the final option, as the intersection is limited in size and the design team, including the Town Engineer and engineer designers, do not recommend expanding the dimensions of the intersection.  The Town expects to have scoping guidance from MassDOT in May.  (UPDATE:  feedback and guidance from the 4/29 meeting with MassDOT is available below in the April 29, 2022 MassDOT Meeting Synopsis)
Next Steps
There will be several opportunities and options for public input on design in 2022, both in the formal MassDOT design process, which includes noticed public hearings at the 25% and 75% thresholds (the project was stalled before a 25% design public hearing was held, this important step would be scheduled at an appropriate time in the future), as well as various public forums and stakeholder interviews.  Abutters and residents were consulted for the original 25% design submission, and as a result, that submission included design exceptions to MassDOT standards, including limiting the width of the roadway and not introducing sidewalks to the corridor.  Even with the project back on track, it would be at least five years out from completion of design to start of construction, and the Town would use the time available to ensure the team works with the abutters to the project, including residents, businesses, and institutions along the corridor, as well as the general public, both on final design as well as construction coordination to limit interruptions to access and avoid detouring.