A Long Road, but Here at Last
By Mina Corpuz
LUNENBURG -- Construction on nearly two miles of Summer and North streets tracing through Leominster, Lunenburg and Fitchburg officially kicked off Wednesday after more than a decade of planning.
“Infrastructure is key,” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito told local leaders, legislators and state transportation officials who gathered at 40 Summer St. to break ground on an $8.2 million project paid for with state and federal funding. “It’s the bread and butter of what needs to get done in our communities.”
The reconstruction will include improved roads, new bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the street. Several intersections along the corridor will be fixed and curbs, guardrails, signs and drainage will also be installed.
Improvements are expected to be complete by 2020.
Summer Street begins in Fitchburg as a branch off of Main Street. The road heads west toward Lunenburg where it continues as North Road in Leominster. It is known as a road that can be difficult to drive on.
Town Manager Heather Lemieux and Mayors Stephen DiNatale of Fitchburg and Dean Mazzarella of Leominster spoke about the collaboration between their communities and with the state on the project.
Lemieux called the start of the reconstruction a historic day.
“It’s been a long time coming. It’s been 12 years,” DiNatale added. “All good things come to those who wait, obviously.”
Mazzarella pointed out how most who attended the ceremony had a role in the project and deserve to share the credit.
Improving the corridor will have a positive impact on residents and those traveling in the area and encourage economic development, Polito said.
MassDOT Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said the road improvements are necessary and important to make the area inclusive for all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists.
Rep. Jennifer Benson, whose district includes Lunenburg, said she is pleased to see improvements for one of of the most dangerous, difficult to manage and hard to navigate areas of town. The area used to be a trolley line that led from Fitchburg to Lake Whalom.
She and Rep. Stephan Hay, whose district includes a town precinct and Fitchburg, presented a citation from the state House of Representatives recognizing the start of the project.
After the speaking portion of the event, Polito, local leaders and transportation officials each took a golden shovel to toss dirt and commemorate the beginning of construction.
Follow Mina on Twitter @mlcorpuz.