The following overview is provided as background information for Warrant Articles 8-12 inclusive.
The Gateway East project has been in the planning stages for almost a decade. Initiated in response to the need to dramatically improve opportunities for pedestrians to cross Route 9/Boylston Street at the eastern section of town in place of the closed pedestrian bridge, the Gateway East project now consists of significant roadway and traffic signal improvements, pedestrian crossings, protected bicycle facilities, sidewalk improvements and landscape and streetscape amenities. The limit of work for the project area spans Route 9 from 160 Washington Street (former Brookline Bank building) to the Brookline/Boston municipal border in the vicinity of Olmsted Park and improves a portion of a number of local roads, including Walnut, High, Pearl and Juniper Streets and Brookline Avenue. Gateway East has been carefully coordinated with all other public and private improvements in the area, including the newly-created Emerald Necklace Crossing, Children's Hospital's redevelopment of 2-4 Brookline Place and the hotel development slated for 700 Brookline Avenue. The Town and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation - Highway Division (MassDOT) are jointly undertaking the Gateway East project. Each government entity has specific obligations - all under the umbrella of the federal government. This project is formally part of the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization's (MPO's) Federal Fiscal Year 2018 (FFY 18) Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). Accordingly, the MassDOT must put the project out to bid this fall in order to insure that federal funding remains available and is not potentially diverted to another TIP-eligible construction project in Massachusetts. The project is currently in the 75% design stage, with 100% design plans expected to be submitted to MassDOT in mid-April, 2018. Assuming affirmative votes by Town Meeting on all five Warrant Articles, MassDOT will bid the project for construction in August or September, 2018. Project construction is expected to begin as early as calendar year 2018 and conclude in calendar year 2021.
Essentially, through the TIP process, the MPO will fund the majority of project construction costs with the exception of a one million dollar ($1,000,000) construction match to be provided by the Town of Brookline. Seven hundred fifty thousand dollars ($750,000) of this match has been provided by Children's Hospital as part of mitigation payments from the redevelopment of 2-4 Brookline Place. Therefore, the Town must provide an additional two hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) toward the required match. The total remaining construction costs, currently estimated at greater than six million dollars, will be funded through the TIP with federal dollars.
Prior to securing funding for the Gateway East project on the TIP, the Town had to assume responsibility for design costs and has funded those costs with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds and limited Town CIP dollars. In addition to design, the Town was required to deliver a "project ready" corridor, which included the removal of the closed pedestrian bridge. The Town used a combination of 2-4 Brookline Place mitigation dollars and CDBG funds to pay for the removal of the bridge at 10 Brookline Place in October 2015. Finally, as expanded upon below, the Town is responsible for acquiring all necessary temporary and permanent easements in order for the State to fund and construct the improvements. The Town has amassed approximately $620,000 in CDBG dollars for right-of-way acquisition costs to be used for direct compensation to affected property owners. CDBG dollars have also been used to engage outside legal counsel, appraisers and the services a right-of-way agent to facilitate the acquisition process. Given that this significant infrastructure project will be largely funded with federal money that is programmed by the Boston Region MPO and administered by MassDOT, the Town is subject to a host of statutory and regulatory requirements regarding process, timing and funding. The following warrant articles have been drafted to insure compliance with the federal and state requirements as well as local by-laws.
|Official Text of the Article
VOTED: That the Town appropriate the sum of $250,000, to be expended under the direction of the Director of Planning and Community Development, with any necessary contracts or any Municipal Agreement to be executed with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation over the amount of $100,000 to be approved by the Select Board, with said sum to be used to fulfill a portion of the Town's one million dollar construction match for the Gateway East project for which Town Meeting strongly encourages the inclusion of continuous curbed, irrigated planting beds between River Road and Boylston Street, and to meet the appropriation transfer $250,000 from the Parking Meter Fund.