Though there have been delays, and the Boston MPO announced recently it has pushed funding for the massive Rutherford Avenue reconstruction project to other projects for the time-being, the City said this week it is fully committed to the project and plans to start construction in Spring 2023.
The project had originally contemplated completing design this year and potentially starting this fall.
A spokesperson for the Boston Transportation Department said the project is a priority for Acting Mayor Kim Janey, but has had some delays due to COVID-19 stoppages and discussions around adding Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to the corridor.
“The Rutherford Ave design project is a priority for Mayor Janey and the Transportation Department,” said the spokesperson. “Time has been added to the project for a number of reasons, the primary being unforeseen delays due to COVID-19. In particular there was a stop-work order for the field investigations which slowed down next steps. We are reviewing transit uses on the corridor in order to consider the future of bus or BRT expansion onto Rutherford Avenue, like the proposed Silver Line Extension.”
BRT has been a point of contention in the project, with neighbors in Somerville and Everett and transit activists clamoring for a center-lane BRT on the corridor. That was added into the plans a little more than a year ago at the favor of then-Mayor Martin Walsh, activists and a movement in transportation circles to favor BRT designs. Last fall, Rutherford Project Manager Bill Conroy, of the BTD, said the center-lane concept had been removed from the plans in submissions to the Boston MPO for 25 percent design. That seems to have been the crux of a lot of the delays, and so it seems they are once-again exploring the center-lane BRT concept for Rutherford.
The spokesperson said they aren’t concerned about the funding being pushed back into a new transit funding program. They said there is still a strong commitment to fund the project when it has been reviewed by all stakeholders and is fully ready to be pushed out for construction.
“Rutherford Avenue has multi-year funding, and will continue to be funded by the MPO,” said the spokesperson. “Project Manager Bill Conroy from the Transportation Department is an appointed member on the MPO and has been very involved in all conversations around Rutherford Avenue to ensure that the project continues to move forward and has adequate funding.”
Right now, the current plan has been through the 25 percent design review by the City and the state, and the BTD is making “minor design adjustments” to get ready for the Design Public Hearing – which was originally slated to be held in January.
That hearing will allow public comment on the design and will happen very soon, said the spokesperson.
After the hearing takes place, that will allow the engineers to progress to the 100 percent design phase, which is expected to be completed in the summer of 2022. After a review by MassDOT, they will put the Rutherford project out to bid in January of 2023 with a construction start date in the spring of 2023.