SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 28, 2014

Brimbal Ave. connector road hits a snag

Paul Leighton
Staff Writer

---- — Mayor Mike Cahill said today that the location of a new Brimbal Avenue connector road is now in doubt due to concerns about the "structural integrity" of building a road on a former landfill.

The concerns have led engineers to develop an alternative design for the road to be built on the site of the current connector road, he said.

Cahill revealed the potential key change in the project while at the same time urging residents to vote 'yes' in the Feb. 8 special election at Beverly High School.

A 'yes' vote would uphold a City Council decision to rezone a parcel of land on Brimbal Avenue that would allow a developer to apply for a special permit to build a $20 million shopping plaza with a Whole Foods Market.

The rezoning would trigger a swap of adjacent parcels of land between the state and the developer, CEA Group. The swap would allow the city to build a new connector road on the landfill site and widen a section of Brimbal Avenue as part of a $5.2 million project. It would also allow CEA Group to build the plaza on the site of the current road.

Engineers have said moving the connector road -- the road that connects Sohier Road and Brimbal Avenue at exit 19 off Route 128 -- is a key to the project because it would allow more room for traffic that now backs up onto the highway.

But Cahill said today that state officials have concerns about the "structural integrity" of building a road on the former landfill and that it would be prohibitively expensive to remove the unstable material from the site.

While urging a 'yes' vote, Cahill yesterday also shot down one of the major contentions of the 'yes' advocates -- that a 'no' vote will cause the city to lose a $5 million state grant to make the road improvements.

Cahill said that is not true. He said the grant money only depends on the ability of the city to propose a "buildable road," whether it is on the CEA Group's land or the state's land.