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Designing for Safety and Efficiency in Downtown Peabody

The intersection of Central Street and Warren Street in 2017.

The City of Peabody, located in Massachusetts’ North Shore region, is a thriving community of 55,000 residents with connections to several crucial thoroughfares including Interstate 95, Route 128, and Route 1. Due to its location, the City also provides a crucial link between Massachusetts’ highways and its coastal communities. Increased car traffic led to congestion on Peabody’s main roadways, including Central Street, a regional arterial that carries over 28,000 vehicles per day. City leadership identified several intersections as dangerous for motorists and pedestrians, and took proactive steps to improve their transportation infrastructure. In 2017, the City and Tighe & Bond (work performed as WorldTech Engineering prior to acquisition) worked collaboratively to identify the project and secure funding to completely reconstruct and realign .8 miles of Central Street.

The project rehabilitates Central Street from Railroad Avenue to Pulaski Street, as well as reconstructing a short section of Pulaski Street from Central Street to Gardner Street.

Before commencing design, project leadership held discussions with the City Council and Mayor to discuss the city’s transportation priorities, as well as the projects best suited for state and federal funding through the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). The project was approved for funding by the MassDOT Project Review Committee in December 2017, qualifying for $11.2 million in funding through the state Transportation Investment Program (TIP).

Transportation Business Line Leader Bill Mertz and Senior Vice President Rich Benevento, both North Shore residents, engaged the public in a series of community meetings to build awareness and support for the project among residents, business owners, and local officials. The public meetings allowed residents to share their feedback and suggestions for the design.  The final design for the project involved a realignment of the roadway to improve traffic flow, the replacement of traffic signals, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and the replacement of subsurface utilities including an existing water main and a 100+ year old drainage system.

The design for the reconstructed intersection at Pulaski and Andover includes a replaced traffic signal, reconstructed sidewalks, and dedicated bicycle facilities.

Assisting the City with Right of Way (ROW) acquisition was crucial to securing public buy-in and the overall success of the project. For all projects funded by the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), the municipality has a responsibility to secure ROW. The rehabilitation of Central Street required 108 temporary easements and 24 permanent easements, including from local and state agencies. Our engineers worked with the city and MassDOT to secure ROW through a robust outreach strategy that included proactive meetings with owners of abutting properties.

While the project was undergoing final design, Tighe & Bond acquired WorldTech Engineering on January 1, 2023, bringing the Central Street rehabilitation project under the firm’s purview. The City of Peabody was a common client for the two firms, with WorldTech supporting the City’s transportation work and Tighe & Bond assisting on stormwater and regulatory issues. With the addition of WorldTech’s expertise to Tighe & Bond’s Transportation Business Line, municipalities now have a “one-stop shop” that can collaborate between disciplines to solve transportation issues and design roadways that emphasize safety, efficiency, and reliability.