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October 17, 2012

Peabody's Main Street shovel-ready

Project, already under way, gets a symbolic groundbreaking

PEABODY — The ground had to be delivered for yesterday’s $1.5 million Main Street Corridor Realignment groundbreaking, but that’s only because the project actually got under way in August.

So, it was a symbolic kickoff at the Peabody Institute Library, featuring Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, Mayor Ted Bettencourt, former Mayor Michael Bonfanti, state Rep. Ted Speliotis and various city officials speaking and pushing shovels into a pile of dirt that was subsequently carted away.

In places, including in front of the library, the new sidewalk is already done. Bettencourt has said this portion of the work will be finished by November, with plantings to be done in the spring.

Reading his speech to a gathering under a large canvas covering yesterday, Bettencourt reviewed the reasons for the redo, explaining that it’s an effort to slow down the traffic and coax more people to stop and visit downtown businesses.

“A safer and more attractive, pedestrian-friendly Main Street will encourage residents and visitors to take the time to shop and eat,” he said.

In addition, the project reduces the traffic on Main Street from four lanes to two, allowing sidewalk “bump-outs,” places where it’s expected people can cross more easily and safely.

“Peabody Square over the past year has had three pedestrian accidents, including one tragic accident that took the life of one of our residents,” Bettencourt said.

In September 2011, Maria Assuncao, 63, was killed after being struck by a truck at the intersection of Main and Washington streets.

Murray noted that the project, backed by significant state funds, began under Bonfanti as the first step in a larger plan, including flood mitigation and a traffic reroute in the square, costing an estimated $18 million. He stressed the need for business and government to work together in an effort like this.

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