SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

December 3, 2013

Brimbal decision to go to voters

Beverly: Council sets special election for Feb. 8

(Continued)

The state is planning a $5 million project to redesign the interchange between Route 128 and Brimbal Avenue, and it hopes to add a larger, second phase that would cost $20 million and include a bridge over the highway.

Councilors took their vote last night without comment. As they did the first time around, council President Paul Guanci and Ward 5 Councilor Don Martin voted against the rezoning.

In a letter to the City Council yesterday, Mayor Bill Scanlon said a vote against the zoning change would “effectively” be a vote against a $5 million state grant the city is expecting to construct the first phase of the project.

Scanlon, who has been a strong proponent of the plan for years, said it would not only improve traffic flow and safety but also open up land on both sides of the highway for development, generating needed tax revenue for the city.

But the plans have faced strong opposition from residents who say the project is too large and would actually increase traffic, particularly with the Whole Foods Market that is planned to be included in the plaza.

The state and developer are planning to swap pieces of land to make the project work. That exchange, which was approved by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Deval Patrick, would allow the state to move the road that connects Sohier Road and Brimbal Avenue to give vehicles more room to stack up onto Route 128 during backups.

Speaking to the council last night, DeAngelis said taxpayers will be on the hook to clean up the land acquired in the swap, which is a former dump.

DeAngelis said there are other options to fix traffic in the area that are “more reasonable in size and scope,” including the installation of a “limited number of traffic lights.”

The poll at the high school will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Feb. 8, the same hours as a regular election.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.

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