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State to fund redesign of Route 1 in preparation for new casino traffic

The state will fund a first look at redesigning parts of Route 1 to improve traffic in Saugus and Revere as it prepares to face additional traffic brought in by the casino. (Spenser R. Hasak)

SAUGUS — A redesign of Route 1 is in its preliminary stages as the state Gaming Commission anticipates there will be an increase in traffic with the opening of Encore Boston Harbor Casino.

“The city of Revere and the Town of Saugus have long been plagued by the woeful inadequacy of outmoded old Route 1,” Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo and Saugus Town Manager Scott Crabtree wrote in a joint application for additional funding, obtained by The Item.

With the new casino under construction in Everett and current congestion on Route 1 and Route 99, Crabtree and Arrigo teamed up to apply for the aid. The casino will have more than 2,900 parking spaces on site and an additional 800 off site. It is projected to generate 36,846 daily trips on a Friday and 43,930 on a Saturday, according to the document.

“The highway is subject to ever increasing traffic volumes and virtual gridlock during attenuated morning and evening rush hours. A number of Route 1 interchanges have very high accident rates because of this increased traffic. The city and the town believe the (casino) will bring substantial volumes of new traffic onto the Route 1 – Route 99 corridor.”

Saugus and Revere were awarded a $275,000 joint Transportation Planning grant from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to help fund a preliminary traffic design for a Route 1 improvement project. It is being used to collect traffic and crash data at key locations, review and assess the corridor geometry and right of way, and develop related budgetary estimates of construction costs.

The commission supported the plan and awarded the communities $150,000 through a Joint Transportation Grant in 2017 to pay for a planning specialist. The administrators used the money to engage a consultant traffic engineer to undertake the effort, according to the application for the 2019 funding, obtained by The Item.

Norwood-based BETA is focused on achievable transportation improvement projects intended to mitigate anticipated traffic increases generated by the casino on the Route 1 – Route 99 corridor and along Routes 1A, 107, and 16.

The $150,000 allotment has been used to focus primarily on the Route 1 project and enable the consultant team to become better acquainted with the road’s history, relevant documents, and previous findings.

On Jan. 30, the pair filed an application for the 2019 Transportation Planning Grant, requesting an additional $425,000 to continue the effort. Awards are expected to be decided by the commission by June 30.

“It’s a top priority to continue to provide the residents and visitors of Saugus with the safest and most reliable infrastructure,” said Crabtree in a statement. “We strive to continue to work together with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and the City of Revere to make essential roadway improvements along these major arteries that will help alleviate existing traffic and offset anticipated traffic resulting from the increased volume of vehicles visiting the new casino.”

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