By Michele Morgan Bolton, Globe Correspondent | January 10, 2010
As a plan for major infrastructure changes in Dedham Square moves closer to implementation, officials are again asking residents for their ideas on the project’s design.
The third public hearing on the proposed Dedham Square Improvement Project, which includes traffic, roadway, pedestrian, and streetscape modifications, will take place at Town Hall, 26 Bryant St., at 7 p.m. on Feb. 2.
The central commercial district is formed by the intersection of Washington, High, Bryant, and Harris streets and Eastern Avenue. Among the proposals in the $5 million plan are efforts to modernize the traffic signal at High and Washington streets and install a new light at Eastern Avenue and Washington Street. Those signals would be coordinated for pedestrians, officials said, to make the square as user-friendly as possible.
Dedham officials are awaiting word on a $1.3 million Public Works Economic Development grant that is awarded to cities and towns by the state Department of Transportation. Those grants are part of the governor’s Massachusetts Recovery Plan and are used to spark economic development.
Since 2000, the transportation department has given out $99.6 million in economic development funds across the state, officials said. “We haven’t been awarded it yet, but it’s still in the works,’’ David Field, Dedham’s director of engineering, said of the town’s application.
The town will have to tap other funding sources, as well, he said. “Hopefully, the money will fall into line. These improvements will make it a safer square and allow people to patronize it fully.’’
Currently, traffic control in the square is limited to the single, outdated light, and traffic jams are a daily headache, officials and merchants said; the proposed changes will make a significant difference for local business when shoppers can more easily navigate the streets by car and on foot.
Besides roadway and sidewalk improvements, the plan calls for streetscape features like special sidewalk and crosswalk surfaces, tree plantings, bike racks, and benches.
Field said he hopes the full project design will be ready this year. Those at the Feb. 2 meeting will be shown 25 percent of the plan, he said. For more information, contact Field at 781-751-9350 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michele Morgan Bolton can be reached at email@example.com.