In December, the Springfield City Council unanimously approved an order objecting to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s proposed design for rebuilding a critical intersection known as “The X.”
Mayor Domenic Sarno vetoed the order and in a message warned that the council’s action could risk state funding for the project, which has an estimated price tag of $11 million.
On Monday, the City Council did a reversal and voted 11-2 to sustain the mayor’s veto.
After hearing from Springfield DPW Director Chris Cignoli at a meeting of the Maintenance and Development Committee, City Councilor Marcus Williams, the chair of the committee, said that upon further review the December vote had been in haste.
"I think it is important not to give any impression to MassDOT or the public that there are issues that might affect the funding for this project," said Williams.
The project would reconstruct the intersection of Sumner Avenue, Belmont Avenue, and Dickinson Street. It ranks in the top-10 of the most accident-prone locations in the state, according to MassDOT data.
Plans call for widening sections of the streets, putting in a roundabout, constructing new sidewalks and bike lanes and installing new traffic signals. The project would also result in the removal of a number of trees, which, according to Cignoli, is one of the top objections he’s heard at public meetings about the project.
"Everything is not carved in stone, so we are going to be making whatever modifications that we can," said Cignoli.
With construction work not scheduled to start until 2024, Cignoli said the important thing now is to keep the project in the queue for state funding. Otherwise, he warned, other municipalities in western Massachusetts could jump in and try to grab the state money for their own projects.
"One of the things I do not want to have happen is for it to look like a project of this size is in someway not being supported by a group within the city," said Cignoli. "It would be very easy in that case for other towns to say 'lets just push this out a year.' I want this project to move forward a year, not be pushed back a year."
City Councilor Jesse Lederman said it was not the council’s intention to throw up a roadblock.
"We are just trying to excercise some oversight and alleviate some of the concerns of residents," said Lederman.
The next public meeting about the project is scheduled for Tuesday, February 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Forest Park Middle School.