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Smoother drive ahead for bumpy Needham Street in Newton

Posted by Deidre Fernandes  April 26, 2013 06:18 PM

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The state has been repaving Needham Street in Newton this month after hearing years of complaints from businesses, city officials and drivers about the shabby condition of the heavily used roadway.

The milling and paving project, which costs $600,000, stretches from Highland Avenue and Webster Street in Needham to Needham and Dedham streets in Newton. It is a distance of about 1.8 miles, said Michael Verseckes, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

“There has only been some remedial work to this corridor for quite some time,” Verseckes said in an email. “This should be a major improvement to what folks are accustomed to driving on.”

Drivers have hit potholes on Needham Street, causing them to lose hubcaps and other cargo for years, said Bob Rooney, Newton’s chief operating officer.

But last year, several utility companies also did work along the road, causing even further deterioration, he said.

“There were a lot of patches that were causing an unpleasant experience, or in some cases unsafe experience,” Rooney said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Greg Reibman, the president of the Newton Needham Chamber of Commerce, said this state project will at least address the short-term problems with Needham Street, a commercial corridor off Interstate 95.

“Although what we need is a good long-term solution,” Reibman said. “It will be nice to have a smoother ride as we wait for the next step.”

The next step, a redesign and reconstruction of the corridor, has been in the works for decades. The state is currently working on 25 percent design plans to increase the capacity of the roadway and improve safety, Rooney said.

State transportation officials will present their preliminary ideas and plans to local businesses in June, Rooney said.

A roundabout and a reduction of the multiple entrance and exits from businesses are among the proposals being discussed, Rooney said.

In the meantime, the current paving project, will help, Rooney said.

Crews are working from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. from Sunday through Thursday. They still have two more days of work in each Newton and Needham before the project is finished, Verseckes said.

Reach Deirdre Fernandes at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com.

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