State agencies and the City of Lynn are planning a dramatic reconfiguration of the Lynnway, a 6- to 7-lane highway between downtown Lynn and Revere Beach, to create a 1.5 mile-long, center-running busway and a shared-use path.
The proposal was revealed in a joint federal RAISE grant application that was submitted earlier this week from the City of Lynn, MassDOT, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the MBTA.
RAISE, formerly known as BUILD and TIGER, is a competitive discretionary grant program that, according the Biden administration, "will prioritize projects that can demonstrate improvements to racial equity, reduce impacts of climate change, and create good-paying jobs."
Those agencies are seeking $11.2 million in federal funds to transform the Lynnway. The remainder of the project's $15 million cost would be paid by MassDOT, according to the grant application.
"The Project includes center-running bus lanes with transit signal priority, a shared use path along the eastern edge of the Lynnway, improved bus stops, and improved pedestrian crossings as part of an important transit corridor along Route 1A," according to the state's grant application.
By giving buses their own dedicated lane, the state estimates that bus riders could save up to six minutes per trip, and, with less time wasted in traffic congestion, the MBTA could potentially run more frequent service on the corridor with the same number of drivers and buses.
Currently, three bus routes use this section of the Lynnway: the 439, a commuter shuttle between Nahant and Wonderland station, and the 441 and 442, which run from Wonderland to Marblehead. Combined, these three routes served about 4,000 riders each weekday, pre-pandemic.
While the Lynnway today is lined with huge car dealerships and strip malls, the City of Lynn has plans to transform the area into a mixed-use district that can capitalize on its proximity to the city's waterfront.
The application also suggests that the new busway and bike path could someday be extended across the General Edwards Bridge to create a continuous bus rapid transit line from Wonderland Station in Revere to Central Square in Lynn.
If funding is secured this year, a project timeline in the grant application suggests that the project could be complete by the fall of 2024.