Spring MassDOT work will transform how Newton moves

Springtime in Newton typically means flowers are starting to bloom, school graduations are not too far off, and road construction crews are back in full force, usually creating traffic back-ups.

But there’s good news to report to harried drivers this month.

The first phase of the $11.3 million Hammond Pond Parkway project is expected to be complete soon, ending a month of bumpy rides and an obstacle course of traffic cones, according to a Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) spokesperson.

And drivers who have been stuck in traffic jams on Needham Street ever since the Needham/Newton Corridor Roadway Improvements Project began four years ago, can expect to see smooth going soon as it is expected to be completed later this year.

In addition to the Corridor project, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is working on two other major initiatives in Newton: An estimated $230 million upgrade of eight bridges at the interchange of the Massachusetts Turnpike and Rte. 128, and road improvements in Newton Corner.

Here’s an update and an overview of the three MassDOT and one DCR projects underway in Newton:

Hammond Pond Parkway

The project involves a complete design redesign of the one-mile roadway and surrounding area between Beacon Street and Rte. 9, including pedestrian sidewalks, a bike path, and improved access to Webster Woods and the Hammond Pond Reservation.

The four-lane parkway has been turned into a much narrower, permanent two-lane highway with a long line of orange cones temporarily separating the lanes while construction of a four-foot-wide pedestrian sidewalk and curbing are beginning to take shape.

Last week, construction crews completed a layer of asphalt pavement that will provide structural support and stability to the road. The final layer of pavement will be installed at a later date.

There will also be a 11-foot shared-use path on the west side and a four-foot walk path on the east side. A new four-car parking lot and bike rack, and guard rails will also be added.

The Hammond Pond Parkway is one of several MassDot projects underway in Newton. Photo by Bryan McGonigle

The second phase of the project is expected to start next week and will include replacing existing streetlights with new “historically appropriate lights.” The entire project is scheduled to be completed and open to the public by the fall of 2025.

The project is designed to make the one-mile stretch of road better for the environment and safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, according to the DCR.

This is the first significant change to the parkway since it was built 90 years ago.

The project has generated support from Newton Conservators, Friends of Webster Woods, Green Newton, Bike Newton, and the Safe Routes to School Task Force.

Needham/Newton Corridor Roadway Improvement Project

The 1.7-mile corridor project—stretching from Webster Street in Needham to Rte. 9 in Newton—has been underway since the fall of 2020 and involves widening Needham Street, installing sidewalks, building a shared use path for bikes and pedestrians, replacing five traffic signals and adding two new ones, and installing stormwater basins and infiltration trenches.

For the past month, construction crews have worked on reconstruction from the 149-year-old stone arch bridge over the Charles River to 191 Needham Street from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The corridor carries some 28,000 vehicles per day, according to the MassDOT.

The corridor project has been “disruptive to so many businesses” during the past four years, said Greg Reibman, president and CEO of the Charles River Chamber, who praised the “residents and area employees who have continued to shop there” during construction.

The work on the bridge has already made “a significant improvement for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers,” Reibman noted.

Newton Corner Interchange Improvements

The MassDOT, Newton city officials and a design consultant have been working this spring on developing “short-and-medium-term improvement alternatives” to the roadway off of the Newton Corner interchange at Exit 127 off of the Massachusetts Turnpike.

The MassDOT will host a live, virtual public information meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 6, to present what the agency is calling a “very preliminary, high conceptual improvement” plan.

Residents can register for the meeting and share their views on the recommendations presented by city and state officials on Zoom.

The plan, based on previous public outreach efforts and workshops, will include possible immediate changes to improve safety and mobility, including improved signal coordination, striping and sign changes, and bus stop relocations or consolidations, according to a MassDOT spokesperson.

Newton-Weston Bridge Replacement

Large cranes are already in place at the I-90 and I-95 interchange on the Newton/Western border where eight bridges are in need of replacement and rehabilitation, according to MassDOT.

Five of the bridges will be replaced, one will be rehabilitated, and two will have their superstructure replaced. There will also be a number of bridge and roadway safety improvements as part of the project.

Noise walls along the Mass Turnpike in Auburndale will be installed as part of the project.