State leaders say that the planned re-design of the dangerous intersection of Gallivan Boulevard and Morton Street remains a top priority and that work on the revamp will begin soon.
The pledges come after civic leaders again raised concerns about the pace of the infrastructure project, this time in the aftermath of a May 26 hit-and-run crash that killed a 40-year-old Mattapan man.
The $3 million rehabilitation – years in the making – will include new traffic signals, sidewalks, and walkways. The Department of Transportation has long referred to the intersection of Morton and Gallivan— the site of dozens of accidents in recent years— as a “high crash location.”
State Rep. Dan Cullinane agrees, and strongly. “As far as I’m concerned, I want shovels in the ground yesterday.”
Cullinane, who represents the 12th Suffolk District, said he and other state officials had been regularly communicating with MassDOT officials even before the most recent incident. He described the re-construction project as being “at the one yard line” even though a construction start date has yet to be set.
In a letter to the editor published in last week’s edition of the Reporter, West Selden St. & Vicinity Neighborhood Association (WSSVNA) civic leader Barbara Crichlow urged immediate action on the matter and accused officials of placing the project “on the back burner.”
State Rep. Russell Holmes, who represents the adjacent 6th Suffolk District, called the project one of the Mattapan delegation’s highest priorities. “It’s never been on the back burner,” he said. “We’re all diligent about trying to get it completed...we’ve been pushing to get it done as soon as possible.”
“Everything must be taken into account,” Cullinane added, noting that details such as the structural integrity of the sidewalks factor into the project’s comprehensive scope, which has expanded beyond the immediate vicinity of the intersection as far east as West Selden Street. The approved redesign will install a traffic signal at the intersection, prohibit left-hand turns from Gallivan Boulevard onto certain side streets, and eliminate a traffic lane on the eastbound side of Morton Street, in addition to other adjustments.
“The community deserves the best possible project,” Cullinane said. “And to ensure its safety we want it done right, we don’t want to move too quickly and get something wrong.”
Holmes said that meetings were ongoing regarding repossession of property near the intersection, a process that has stalled progress somewhat. But he added, like Cullinane, that the project is expected to be put in motion in a matter of days.
“We have it all lined up, so I expect to have a timeline in the next week or so,” said Holmes, who met recently with constituents who agreed that while pedestrian safety there is a concern, the latest fatal accident involved extraordinary circumstances in that it took place around midnight rather than in the middle of a rush hour.
For her part, Barbara Crichlow told the Reporter she received feedback from local politicians about her letter in the days after its publication. “I did get responses from the people I sent the email out to but so far nothing very promising,” she wrote. “They are just questioning the status.”
Responding to a query into the status of the redesign, MassDOT explained in an email that some final processes were still ongoing in the preparation stages of the project:
“The schedule of this project has been impacted by numerous factors, including the securement of property rights necessary to construct the project. Each one of the Right of Way actions must be carefully performed in order to ensure consistency with state and federal requirements. After the Right of Way process and all construction plans are finalized, and project bids are received, a contract will be awarded for construction. Scheduling information will be made available to the public as the Right of Way process and construction plans are finalized.”
The official project page on the MassDOT website lists a construction start date for Winter 2018/2019.