Gov Patrick Delivers $15mil to Lowell

Governor Deval Patrick traveled to Lowell (again) yesterday to deliver the $15mil needed for the reconstruction of the Lord Overpass.  This infrastructure work is critical to the success of the entire Hamilton Canal District, particularly the Judicial Center.

Standing in the open lot at the end of Jackson Street that will the site of the Judicial Center, Governor Patrick began his remarks by saying

“As I look around, there’s not a building we haven’t touched in some way [with state funds].  Senator Donoghue has been all over us about this overpass so she deserves much of the credit for this.  But this is not just about roads.  It’s about people and neighborhoods.  We invest in people, not projects.  Lowell has demonstrated repeatedly that it has the vision to do this.

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas spoke next, thanking the Governor for sticking with this project.  She said it was too bad that he won’t still be in office when the project is completed (the Governor leaves office in less than 90 days).  In government, she concluded, much of what we do is about the future.

Senator Donoghue said that what we were seeing today was a result of a partnership between Federal, State and local government.  “We’re so lucky to have the support of the governor for this transformative development,” she said.  Next, she commended Governor Patrick and MassDOT for their willingness to invest in infrastructure that transforms neighborhoods and brings jobs to the city.

The photo below is the diagram of the project.  The bottom of the map is the Highlands and the top is towards Downtown.  The two roads running from the bottom to the rotary are Chelmsford St (on the right) and Middlesex St (on the left).  The two running from the other side of the rotary to the top of the map are Appleton St (right) and Middlesex St (left).  Further to the left of the chart is the new road, an extension of Jackson Street that connects with Thorndike in a major intersection.  Just across that intersection is Fletcher St, running in from the left side of the map.  Thorndike St bisects the map horizontally.  Once completed, cars coming from almost any direction will be able to turn down Jackson St Extension to access the Judicial Center (which will be built between the Jackson St Ext and Middlesex St) and the rest of the Hamilton Canal District.  If I have one concern about this design, it’s that accommodations for pedestrians trying to cross Thorndike/Dutton Street at any point don’t seem too prominent.

4 Responses to Gov Patrick Delivers $15mil to Lowell

  1. Brian says:

    We all know the governor, the state and federal delegation, the council, and the manager will do whatever it takes to ensure the HCD build-out is a success. Many would say they’re following the orthodox method of planning, bringing home the bacon, and making the area attractive for development. By that measure they’re doing great but I believe this was a huge missed opportunity. The caption on the map says it all “Traffic Improvements”. Cities that plan for traffic get traffic, cities that plan for people get people.

    This plan does little to improve walkability from the HCD to the Highlands-Cambodia Town or the Acre. Wouldn’t it be great for HCD workers to be able to comfortably walk to Cambodia Town for lunch or for Highlands residents to be able to safely walk to work. Many studies state people spend on average 7-10k per year on their car. Wouldn’t that money be better spent at Lowell small businesses and on home improvements? This is just putting lipstick on a pig.

    This plan continues to subsidize the growth of the suburbs and auto-centric culture that has hobbled Lowell for the last 50 years. Boston got rid of the express-way between the North End and the Financial District and put in a greenway(where you can still drive by the way). Both neighborhoods benefited. It’s time for Dutton St and Thorndike St to get a road diet. Isolating the Highlands and Acre from downtown will only ensure the continued struggle of Lowell for years to come.

  2. Brian says:

    Wow. White Flint MD councilors demand redo of crappy road design.
    “This amendment reflects the vision for pedestrian and bicyclist accessibility called for in the
    White Flint Sector Plan in order to help meet the aggressive mode-share goals of the Plan.”

    Is there anything in Lowell’s master plan that can help stop and amend the Lord Overpass redesign?,

  3. DickH says:

    Brian, I agree with your comments about the current design of this plan just reinforcing the anti-pedestrian, 1960s era design of the Lord Overpass, Thorndike St, and the Sampson Connector. My attitude, however, is to take the money when it’s available and then push hard for design changes to the project to better accommodate walkers crossing from the Hamilton Canal District to the Acre and the Lower Highlands, particularly Cambodia Town. And don’t forget the lack of a pedestrian crossing over the railroad line in that vicinity. You can stand at Mill No. 5 and see Western Ave Studios not too far away, but “you can’t get there from here.” The rail crossing is a separate issue but it shouldn’t be forgotten.

  4. Brian says:

    Dick, that’s a reasonable position. I’m just not it’s possible with the Lord Overpass viaducts currently in place.

    You can see where “old” Middlesex St used to run, down by the “old” Molly Kay’s Pub. There are some nice old buildings between the pub and the Boys Club. I’m assuming there was a railroad crossing there for cars and pedestrians before the overpass was built? Trains go slow enough in DTL that you would think we could handle a railroad crossing or two.

    How do we ensure good planning and design is followed through on future city projects?