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2020 Community Mitigation Fund grant spotlight: MGC funds $3.2 million in Transportation Construction Project grants

In an effort to offset impacts associated with the Commonwealth’s three gaming establishments, the MGC recently approved the award of approximately $6.7 million in grants through the 2020 Community Mitigation Fund to several municipalities and other eligible entities across Massachusetts.

Almost half of that funding went to a newly introduced category: Transportation Construction Project grants.

In 2019, the MGC went through an approval process to add the new grant category to the 2020 Community Mitigation Fund. The category was first proposed by staff members in the late summer and early fall, went through a review by the Commission, and then went to Local Community Mitigation Advisory Committees and the Subcommittee on Community Mitigation.

After input from all groups involved, the Commission held a public meeting on the revised guidelines, took public comments, and approved the final guidelines in December for the upcoming year.

“For the years leading up to the opening of the casinos, we awarded grants to communities to study anticipated impacts of the casinos,” Construction Project Oversight Manager Joe Delaney said. “Once all of the casinos were open and actual impacts could be identified, we felt it was the right time to start allowing construction funding to address these identified impacts.”

Transportation Construction Project grants allow cities and towns to address traffic impacts by funding actual construction of improvements to help improve traffic flow, improve access to other modes of transportation (bicycles, pedestrians, etc.), and, in certain instances, reduce the amount of traffic on local roads.

The new category adds a second type of transportation grant to the Community Mitigation Fund’s arsenal: the initial Transportation Planning grant category, and the new Transportation Construction Project grant.

“The transportation planning grants allow communities to do advanced planning for transportation improvements necessary to mitigate the impacts of the casinos, while the transportation construction project grants allow implementation of those improvements identified in the planning grants,” Delaney said. “We look at these two categories as being complementary to one another.”

Five applicants received funding through the Transportation Construction Project grant category, including the City of Boston, the City of Chelsea, the City of Everett, the City of Medford, and the Town of West Springfield. A full breakdown of the grants can be found below:

City of Boston – Lost Village Transportation Construction Project $295,000 This grant will be used to create safer crossings and better line of sight for turning vehicles, as well as a fiber connection from Sullivan Square to the Park Street intersection.
City of Chelsea – Beacham/Williams Streets Transportation Construction Project $1,000,000 This grant will fund a portion of the comprehensive reconstruction of Beacham and Williams Streets, from Spruce Street to the City’s boundary with Everett.  This project consists of roadway and utility reconstruction, intersection upgrades, and the installation of pedestrian and bicycle facilities.
City of Everett -Northern Strand Transportation Construction Project $375,000 This grant will partially fund an extension of the Northern Strand Community Trail to the Mystic River.
City of Medford – Wellington Greenway Transportation Construction Project $530,000 This grant will construct the last phase of the Wellington Greenway, a 0.3-mile path that will connect local residents/employees to the Encore Resort via waterfront paths along the Mystic and Malden Rivers.
Town of West Springfield – Park Avenue/Park Street Complete Streets Improvements Transportation Construction Project $1,000,000 This grant will provide funding to enable Complete Street Transportation Improvements to the Park Avenue and Park Street (Route 20) corridors from the Elm Street/Union Street intersection to the North End Rotary.

In total, $3.2 million in funding was awarded to applications in the Transportation Construction Project category in 2020, and Delaney believes the trend could continue for years to come.

“For the first year of this program, we programmed $3 million for construction grants and received applications for over $5.7 million in projects,” Delaney said. “In the end, we funded $3.2 million in grants. We certainly expect that this category will have significant interest by the host and surrounding communities for the next few years.”

Since 2015, the MGC has awarded approximately $23 million in grants from the Community Mitigation Fund. To learn more about the 2020 Community Mitigation Fund and to view a full list of this year’s awards, click here.

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