The end of more than a quarter-century of widening and improving Middlesex Turnpike in Bedford, Burlington, and Billerica is on the horizon.
The Bedford Select Board on Monday approved a contract amendment with the firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. for revisions to some flood plain designations around the Shawsheen River that comply with more stringent federal environmental regulations.
This is “what we hope will be the final change order” for the project, Public Works Director David Manugian told the Select Board.
The work, most of which was state funded, began during Bill Clinton’s first term as president. Bill Parcells was the Patriots head coach, the town was represented by a Republican in the State House, and Mickey Webber was Bedford’s Citizen of the Year.
The most recent $52,200 contract is about 0.001 percent of the $51 million price tag (not adjusted for inflation), covering about four-and-a-half miles of Middlesex Turnpike between Mall Road in Burlington and Manning Road in Billerica.
The purpose of the work on the so-called tri-town corridor was to attract business by increasing capacity and facilitating access to highways. The one-time farm road was expanded from two lanes to four with turning lanes and signalization at key intersections.
The work, first environed in the late 1980s, was executed in three phases, and the current third phase was the most expensive, close to $35 million. One reason was the expense involved with the Shawsheen River crossing.
The most dramatic change over the 28 years was the relocation of Middlesex Turnpike in Burlington on both sides of Route 62, including bisecting the MITRE Corp.’s large grassy tract.