A front-page Lowell Sun article today is reporting interesting news from yesterday’s roundtable discussion with U. S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. He is committed to backing the alternative design plan for the Interstate 93 – Lowell Junction interchange that would limit access to the town of Tewksbury’s local roads. While not wanting to stand in the way of road access to the other stakeholders – the towns of Andover and Wilmington -Tewksbury has objected from the beginning to the over-burdening of its roads in the affected South Tewksbury neighborhoods. Federal Highway Administration officials have balked at Tewksbury’s insistence for the option of only an “on and off ramp” to I-93 on the West side of the new interchange that would protect the South Tewksbury neighborhood and the narrow, winding local roads. The East side would provide access for the much needed expansion and development plans for companies and businesses on the Andover side.
It was back in early 2004 when voters – after a vigorous educational campaign by stakeholders – approved the alternate plan at a Town Meeting. The focus of the plan for Tewksbury was the development by Mills Corporation of a mall on the so-called Perkins property with the use of a loop road limiting access to local roads except for safety needs of the fire and police departments. The Tewksbury position has been a longtime glitch in the attempts to move the project forward.
Congresswoman Niki Tsongas brought the town representatives together with LaHood for the hearing. His support for funding the alternative interchange plan is critical for moving the project forward. Bob Fowler of the Tewksbury Planning Board reminded officials that the three towns have really been working on the interchange project for 20 years or more. For this vision – there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.
Read the full article by Joyce Tsai in the Lowell Sun here.
For disclosure – I was part of a consulting team that worked with Mills Corporation back in 2003-2004 prior to the Town Meeting that approved the alternative interchange plan.