August 22, 2018

PawSox-related Kelley Square redesign doesn't need legislative approval

Photo/Grant Welker Graphics/Mitchell Hayes
An aerial view of the Canal District in Worcester, where a planned stadium would be built. Kelley Square is located to the left of the photo, between the ballpark site and I-290.

An overhaul of Worcester's Kelley Square expected to accompany a planned ballpark and mixed-use development in the Canal District does not require legislative approval, the state Department of Transportation said Wednesday.

That leaves the stadium proposal with one less hurdle as Worcester officials seek to stick the landing for the Pawtucket Red Sox.

The Kelley Square work will include a complete redesign and reconstruction of the infamous intersection, the department said in a statement responding to questions about the infrastructure work.

The department is weighing a mix of state and federal funds for the project, for which it says the Kelley Square work qualifies under the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program. The scope of the work is still in initial development stages, according to the office, but it is expected to address a section of Madison Street and Vernon Street between the interchange of I-290 and Vernon Street, and the railroad overpass located just west of Gold Street on Madison Street, where the ballpark is planned to be built.

Kelley Square, where a web of streets meet without the benefit of a traffic light, has been rated as one of the most dangerous in the state by the Department of Transportation. A total of 294 crashes were recorded there between 2013 and 2015, the latest time period available, with 62 of those crashes leading to injuries.

Worcester officials have pitched the stadium, for which it would borrow $101 million to build and own, as a catalyst for redevelopment in the Canal District and a way to attract broader state infrastructure investment. The city has signed a letter of intent with the PawSox for the team to lease the ballpark for 30 years for roughly $1 million annually.

The state's investment in the PawSox deal also includes $35 million to build a 350- to 500-space parking garage and for incentives for a developer to build 225 units of market-rate housing.


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