The Providence Highway corridor spans the width of Dedham and accomplishes two things simultaneously:
- It creates a barrier, cutting Dedham in half, separating neighborhoods, and cordoning off natural areas along the Charles River and Wigwam Pond.
- It hosts a considerable amount of economic activity that generates tax revenues to support Town services and projects.
In May 2019, Town Meeting voted to create the Providence Highway Development District with the hope of leveraging the corridor’s economic strength into public infrastructure projects that can address the corridor’s shortcomings. In Massachusetts, municipalities can create such districts and invest a portion of new growth--future property tax revenue generated by new private development--into public infrastructure within the district.
Through this project, Dedham residents can work to transform how the area looks, how people will be able to move around within the corridor, and even shape the types of land uses within the corridor. This is a community effort to take some control and help shape future change and development in the corridor.
Route 1 crosses eastern Massachusetts from Rhode Island north to New Hampshire. The section in Dedham, known as the Providence Highway, was constructed in 1932 as the Providence Turnpike. It follows the path of nineteenth century railway lines that once ran from Islington in Westwood to West Roxbury.
Commercial development in the highway corridor did not begin in earnest until after World War II when land along the highway became more valuable with the rise of suburban department stores and automobile-friendly shopping centers. By the time big-box stores rose up in the latter part of the twentieth century, highway commerce had prospered for decades.
Then things started changing. Shoppers and retail began moving online. New forms of shopping centers like Legacy Place grew and thrived, while traditional retail giants like Sears closed their doors. Retail continues to change and adapt, but many of the retail shopping areas along the highway look much as they did decades ago. What will the Providence Highway corridor look like in another 25 or 50 years? And how can the residents of Dedham have a voice in that future?
Until March 2020: Gather public input to identify areas of improvement within the corridor.
April 2020: Obtain cost estimates of those improvements.
May-July 2020: Collect additional public input to help Town leaders prioritize projects.
August-September 2020: Draft Providence Highway District Plan proposal
November 2020: Submit Providence Highway District Plan proposal to Annual Town Meeting.
Potential Funding Sources
The Providence Highway Development District, as approved at Town Meeting in May 2019, could generate funding for projects after a Town Meeting vote to approve a District Plan. That funding could be paired with many other funding sources, including:
- Metropolitan Area Planning Council Technical Assistance.
- Central Transportation Planning Staff Technical Assistance.
- State earmark: $100,000 for Wigwam Pond access design.
- Massachusetts Session Laws Act 2018 Chapter 228 Section 228: Section 2A of the bill provides grants to municipalities and other public instrumentalities for the “design, construction, building, land acquisition, rehabilitation, repair and other improvements to publicly owned infrastructure, or those owned or operated by nonprofit organizations.” Specifically, with regards to the Providence Highway, the bill stipulates “not less than $8,000,000 shall be expended for the study, design, improvements and maintenance of United States highway route 1 in the towns of Norwood, Westwood and Dedham through the VFW and West Roxbury parkway in the West Roxbury section of the city of Boston.”
- Chapter 70 of the Acts of 2014 Section 2A. 6121-1317; provided that $5,000,000 shall be expended for improvements to the Marine Corps rotary and Veterans of Foreign Wars parkway in the Town of Dedham.
- MassDOT Transportation Improvement Program
- The Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, or BUILD Transportation Discretionary Grant program, provides a unique opportunity for the DOT to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve national objectives. Previously known as Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER Discretionary Grants.
For more information, please contact Community Development Director John Sisson, (781) 751-9175.