February 17, 2021 by Carol Britton Meyer
The $15.3 million improvement project that would stretch along the Route 3A, Hingham Rotary, and Summer Street corridor would cost the Town of Hingham $819,000 in design fees -- or 5.4 percent of the total project cost -- with the remainder of the tab paid with state and federal dollars.
The redesign of the state-owned corridor is geared toward enhancing the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. The bounds of the project are from the intersection of Otis Street and Broad Cove Road to the intersection of George Washington Boulevard and Rockland Street.
This year's Town Meeting will be asked to appropriate $200,000 to pay for the remaining design engineering costs through construction, in addition to earlier-approved funding for this purpose, totaling the above amount for the town's share of the project.
"The biggest feature from end to end is the safety improvements -- including new sidewalks, a 10-foot shared-use path with a buffer along the waterfront, a modern roundabout [replacing the current rotary], and roadway and sidewalk improvements [among others]," Hingham Rte. 3A Task Force Chair Judith Sneath told the selectmen last night. The task force was created to manage the project locally.
The project is on the state Transportation Improvement Program priority list, which is good news for the town.
It's scheduled for construction in 2025, contingent on an affirmative Town Meeting vote to cover the remaining design costs. Rep. Joan Meschino and Sen. Patrick O'Connor assisted Hingham in securing state funding.
Plans have been in the development stage for more than a decade and include a permanent "road diet" on Summer Street between Martins Lane and the Rotary, involving the elimination of one lane in each direction.
A pilot "road diet" program was implemented from May 20 through July 26, 2018 in a cooperative effort among Hingham, Hull, and Cohasset town officials.
The pilot "road diet" program was implemented due to speeding issues and the high number of accidents that posed serious safety concerns in that area.
The Town of Hingham started discussions about safety improvements along this corridor in 2009 with a focus on redesign of the Hingham Rotary. In 2015, Town Meeting voted affirmatively on a citizen's petition to address the frequency of high-injury accidents at Summer Street and Button Cove Road.
The project figures into the town’s 2030 Master Plan and a recent Massachusetts Area Planning Council grant to create connectivity between Hingham Harbor and the downtown business district.
The design plan also includes a westbound turning lane at the Summer and North Street intersection, traffic signal and intersection improvements, improved pedestrian walkways on both sides of the roadway where possible, and landscaping.
Project engineers from Design Consultants, Inc. have been working closely with Hingham's Town Engineer J.R. Frey, the Hingham Route 3A Task Force, and public safety representatives from all three towns to move the project through the Massachusetts Department of Transportation design approval process.
"This is a remarkable investment of mostly federal transportation dollars at a reasonable cost to the town," Sneath said.
Selectmen Chair Mary Power asked what would happen to the project if Town Meeting doesn't approve the additional funding?
Sneath explained that the town would need to commit to the full design in order for the project to move forward.