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USDOT Grants $22 Million for Dedicated Busway Between Sullivan Square and Everett

A view of the new Columbus Ave. bus lanes and the new bus platforms at Walnut Avenue.

The new Columbus Ave. bus lanes and upgraded bus platforms at Walnut Avenue, near Franklin Park. The MBTA has won federal funding to build a similar physically-separated busway between Sullivan Square in Boston and Sweetser Circle in Everett.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) will give the MBTA $22.4 million to build a dedicated, separated busway between Sullivan Square and downtown Everett.

The grant comes from Washington's Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program, a competitive grant program created by the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

According to a USDOT fact sheet about this year's grant awards, the T plans to build "an approximately 1.2-mile separated on-street busway along lower Broadway from Sweetser Circle in Everett and Alford Street to the Alford Street Bridge in Boston to support three MBTA bus routes."

Two illustrative street cross-sections made in the Streetmix website show a proposed layout for Lower Broadway at Beacham St. (top) and Lower Broadway on the Alford St. Bridge (below). Both cross-sections feature a dedicated two-lane busway on the right side of the roadway, physically separated from car traffic on the left. The Bridge cross-section also shows a two-way bikeway on the far right edge of the roadway.
An image from the USDOT 2024 RAISE grant announcement illustrates a conceptual cross-section that includes protected bike lanes and a dedicated busway for Lower Broadway and Alford Street. Courtesy of the USDOT.

Those streets would also receive improved bike and pedestrian facilities, transit-priority traffic signals, and level boarding platforms at bus stops.

A conceptual street cross-section from USDOT's fact sheet (above) suggests that both the Alford Street Bridge over the Mystic River and Lower Broadway and Everett would be entirely redesigned to create a dedicated, physically-separated busway on one side of the street, and general-purpose traffic lanes on the other.

The conceptual layout appears to include a new physically-separated bikeway on the Alford Street Bridge as well.

According to USDOT's fact sheet, construction could begin in early 2027.

StreetsblogMASS has reached out to the T to request a copy of the grant application and additional details on the proposal. This story will be updated when we learn more.

Project would benefit new frequent-service bus routes, possible Silver Line extension

Under the MBTA's bus network redesign plans, which are slated to go into effect at the end of this year, the 109 bus route, which runs on Alford Street and Lower Broadway between Sullivan Square and Linden Square in Malden, would be upgraded to a frequent-service bus route, and extended further west into Harvard Square.

A map of the northern part of the Boston region showing proposed changes to five bus routes in Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Revere, and Somerville: the 86, in the lower left of the map, which runs between Reservoir Station and Sullivan Square today, but would be shortened to end at Harvard Square in the future; the proposed "frequent-service" 109, which runs through Everett to Sullivan today, and would extend to Harvard in the future to pick up the discontinued segment of the 86; the frequent-service 116, between Maverick and Wonderland, the frequent-service 104, between Airport and Malden Center, and the frequent-service 110, between Wellington and Wonderland.
A map of bus route changes proposed under the first phase of the MBTA's bus network redesign. Dashed lines indicate existing bus routes that would be modified; thicker lines denote proposed "frequent-service" bus routes that would arrive every 15 minutes or less all day.

Lower Broadway is also part of the MBTA's preferred route for extending the Silver Line to Sullivan Square, although the T has not yet made any firm commitments to actually implementing that recommendation.

Salem, Gardner win additional planning grants

USDOT also announced smaller "planning grants" for the cities of Salem and Gardner.

Salem will receive $2.8 million for planning, engineering, and permitting work "for a new commuter rail stop in South Salem between Canal Street and Jefferson Avenue," about one mile south of the city's existing regional rail stop.

Gardner's $1.3 million planning grant will help create a new "Downtown Mobility Plan," which will also include "planning and engineering of a 4-story parking garage on West Street located in the Downtown area."

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