June 23rd Information & Resource Update

NOW AVAILABLE: 2022 Strength in Numbers Report,

New Economic Profiles of all 495/MetroWest Communities

Each year, the 495/MetroWest Partnership publishes our Strength in Numbers report, highlighting the economic advantages of the 495/MetroWest region. Through turbulent times, the strengths and advantages of the 495/MetroWest region continue to position it as an economic powerhouse:

  • Employers remain bullish on the region in spite of national economic concerns
  • Key sectors continue to grow
  • Unemployment is consistently lower than state and national figures
  • Commercial real estate remains available at a steep discount from Boston, with the region still benefitting from the Boston area's resources
  • The region continues to boast one of the world’s most educated workforces

Click here to download our 2022 Strength in Numbers report!

Accompanying our 2022 Strength in Numbers report are economic and demographic profiles of each of our 36 cities and towns. Data points presented in each community profile include population changes, educational attainment, commuting patterns, housing information, key industries, and more.  

To access Community Profiles, visit the "Reports and Data" section of our website, and click on the respective community link to download its two-page profile. 

Mass. Clean Water Trust Offers New Programs for Lead Service Line Inventories and Replacement Planning

The Massachusetts Clean Water Trust (the Trust) announced it will be offering two new programs for Lead Service Line (LSL) inventories and replacement planning, including a 100 percent loan forgiveness program for public water suppliers (PWSs) and technical assistance for Community and Non-Transient, Non-Community PWSs serving less than 10,000 persons.

Starting July 1st, 2022, the Trust will offer $20 million in loans with 100 percent loan forgiveness for planning activities assisting all PWSs to complete planning projects for LSL inventories and for the development of LSL replacement plans. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) will accept loan applications on a rolling basis while funding is available. The Trust recommends that PWSs apply as soon as possible to access funding as applications will be processed on a first-come-first-served basis. Application instructions and links are available on MassDEP’s website.

For PWSs serving populations less than 10,000, MassDEP will use $1.3 million to contract with qualified technical assistance providers, including professional engineers, to complete these planning projects. The technical assistance program will be managed and operated by the MassDEP Bureau of Water Resources, Drinking Water Program and information will be made available in the coming weeks.

The purpose of the programs is to assist PWSs with complying with new federal Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRRs) that require a complete and transparent LSL inventory by October 16th, 2024.

The two eligible projects for the programs are:

  1. LSL Inventory: Completing a comprehensive LSL inventory for both public and private service lines that will be made publicly available as detailed by MassDEP. LSL inventory projects locate, map, and inventory the water distribution and customer service lines to create a comprehensive LSL inventory. This project could include everything from inspecting physical service lines to compiling paper records to initiating a consumer LSL identification program to submitting the inventory to MassDEP in an approved digital format.
  2. LSL Replacement Program: Preparing an LSL replacement program for the PWS that complies with LCRRs. These replacement plans need to incorporate the MassDEP goal of protecting public health by planning to remove all lead service lines in five years.

The funding for the two programs comes from the federal Lead Service Line Replacement Grant in the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and from the federal Water Infrastructure Funding Transfer Act (WIFTA).

About the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions: In 1991, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency promulgated regulations known as the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) under the authority of the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act. The LCR helps protect public health by regulating water suppliers on how to treat and control for lead. Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRRs), finalized in 2021, require all PWSs to complete a full inventory of service lines connected to its distribution system, whether or not they are owned or controlled by the water system by October 16, 2024. Additionally, the results of the LSL inventory must be accessible to the public. Further, PWSs must also submit a plan to MassDEP by the 2024 deadline detailing how the PWS will prioritize, fund, and fully remove LSLs connected to its distribution system.

About the Clean Water Trust: Since its establishment in 1989, the Trust has loaned nearly $8.1 billion to improve and maintain the quality of water in the Commonwealth. An estimated 97 percent of Massachusetts' residents have benefited from the financial assistance of the Trust.

Sales Tax Holiday Weekend Set for Aug. 13th & 14th

Early last week, both chambers of the Massachusetts Legislature voted to set August 13th and 14th as the dates for this year's annual Sales Tax Holiday Weekend. A 2018 law requires such a weekend to take place each year, with either the Legislature (prior to June 15th) or the Department of Revenue (after June 15th) selecting the dates.

Retail items of up to $2,500, purchased in Massachusetts for personal use on these two days, will be exempt from sales tax. The sales tax holiday applies to individuals purchasing retail items for personal use only. Purchases by corporations or other businesses—or purchases by individuals for business use—remain taxable.

Excluded from the holiday are meals, motor vehicles, motorboats, telecommunications services, gas, electricity, tobacco products, marijuana or marijuana products, alcoholic beverages, and any single item whose price is more than $2,500. More information is available from the Department of Revenue

MWRTA Resumes Natick Commuter Shuttle

The MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA) has resumed Natick Commuter Shuttle (NCS) service. This shuttle is designed specifically for commuters going to or from designated work areas and local MBTA train stations during regular work hours.

Regional employers served by the program include MathWorks (Apple Hill and Lakeside campuses), Natick Army Labs, and the Natick Mall. MBTA Commuter Rail stations connected are Natick Center and West Natick, with connections to the Blandin Hub. Click here to access a complete schedule and shuttle information

The shuttle service is intended to meet MBTA Commuter Rail arrivals and departures; the shuttle runs express between stops. 

I-90 Allston Multimodal Project Update: Viaduct Preservation 

MassDOT has announced intentions to begin preservation efforts to the Allston I-90 elevated viaduct, known as Phase I, which utilizes one-time funds to address the ongoing deterioration of the viaduct, and to ensure that it remains in safe operation throughout the design, permitting, and construction process for the Allston Multimodal Project. This preservation effort is separate from the Allston Multimodal Project itself; the All-At-Grade solution for the “throat” section of the project area, in which the Mass Pike will be reconstructed at-grade alongside the Charles River, Soldier’s Field Road, and existing Commuter Rail track infrastructure, is still being pursued by MassDOT, and is currently advancing through the state and federal permitting processes.

Viaduct preservation efforts are expected to shave two years off the total construction period for the Allston Multimodal Project, which is currently estimated at 6-10 years. Construction for the viaduct preservation work is expected to begin by the end of 2022, and will cost approximately $75 million.

The 495/MetroWest Partnership is committed to advocating to mitigate negative impact from the I-90 Allston Multimodal Project, ensure the region’s commuter and other interests are reflected in the final project, and keeping stakeholders informed of any project updates.

Event Recap: State House Day...in the District!

On June 15th, the 495/MetroWest Partnership hosted our annual "State House Day" event at Framingham State University. Our stakeholders heard keynote remarks from Senate President Karen Spilka, a presentation on the PFAS Interagency Task Force from Speaker Pro Tem Kate Hogan, and a roundtable discussion among members of the delegation that touched on transportation, office space occupancy, water resources, supporting small businesses, and housing, among other topics.

The 495/MetroWest Partnership extends our thanks to Framingham State University for hosting our event. We also extend our sincere thanks to the participating members of our region's legislative delegation:

  • Senate President Karen E. Spilka
  • Speaker Pro Tempore Kate Hogan
  • Senator James B. Eldridge
  • Senator Michael O. Moore
  • Senator Becca L. Rausch
  • Representative Carmine L. Gentile
  • Representative Hannah E. Kane
  • Representative Jack Patrick Lewis
  • Representative Maria D. Robinson

We look forward to seeing our stakeholders in the State House during next year's event!

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you:
Jason Palitsch, Executive Director
(774) 760-0495

Thank you for your continued commitment to strengthening our region.
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