July 2nd Information & Resources Update
MassDOT to Hold Design Public Hearing Webinar on 495/90 Interchange Improvements Project

A Design Public Hearing Webinar will be published on the MassDOT website to present the design for the proposed I-495/I-90 Interchange Improvements project in Hopkinton and Westborough on Thursday, July 9.

The purpose of this hearing webinar is to provide the public with the opportunity to become fully acquainted with the proposed I-495/I-90 Interchange Improvements project. All views and comments submitted in response to the webinar will be reviewed and considered to the maximum extent possible.

The proposed project consists of reconstruction of the I-495/I-90 Interchange in Hopkinton and Westborough. Once the project has been completed, the I-495/I-90 interchange will feature new direct connection ramps, grade separated ramps, improved acceleration and deceleration lanes, an auxiliary lane from I-495 Northbound to Route 9, a new Fruit Street Bridge and new I-495 bridge over I-90 and the rail lines.

A secure right-of-way is necessary for this project. Acquisitions in fee and permanent or temporary easements may be required. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is responsible for acquiring all needed rights in private or public lands. MassDOT’s policy concerning land acquisitions will be presented in the webinar. Right-of-way plans can be made available to affected property owners upon request.

Written comments and other exhibits regarding the proposed undertaking can be submitted to:
Patricia A. Leavenworth, P.E.
Chief Engineer, MassDOT
10 Park Plaza
Boston, MA 02116
Attention: Highway Division, Project File No.607977

Mailed statements and exhibits intended for inclusion in the public hearing webinar transcript must be postmarked no later than ten business days after the webinar is posted to the MassDOT website on July 9. Project inquiries may be emailed to [email protected].

For more information:
State Announces $20 Million in Rental and Mortgage Assistance

The Baker Administration has announced a new $20 million statewide fund to assist low-income households facing difficulty making rent and mortgage payments. The Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) program will provide direct funding to eligible households who have suffered financial hardship during the State of Emergency put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19.

ERMA will expand eligibility for rental and mortgage assistance to more low-income households who have been impacted by the crisis by adjusting the income threshold beyond the state’s traditional Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program. This includes households within the 50-80 percent range of Area Median Income (AMI). Like the RAFT program, ERMA will provide up to $4,000 for eligible households to pay rent or mortgage payments in arrears going back to payments due April 1, 2020.

As of July 1, applicants can reach out to the eleven agencies that administer RAFT on the state’s behalf, including:

Funding for the new program includes $10 million from the supplemental CDBG Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) fund, part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), in addition to other federal resources. This new funding will serve twice as many households as the traditional RAFT program by expanding eligibility to families who would otherwise not qualify for RAFT.
MBTA Offering New 5-Day Flex Pass for Commuter Rail

The MBTA rolled out a new Commuter Rail fare product pilot this week, the Five-day Flex Pass on mTicket, a bundled fare good for any five days of travel within a thirty-day period. With the understanding that travel patterns are changing and many employers are exploring new ways of working, such as staggered schedules and telework policies, the new fare product aims to serve Commuter Rail riders whose commutes may change as they return to using the system during the Commonwealth’s reopening phases. This product also comes as part of the MBTA’s Fare Transformation program, which aims to make paying for transit more convenient.

The Five-day Flex Pass Pilot began on July 1, and will last through September 30; it is available within the mTicket app only. Once activated within mTicket, the Flex Pass provides five one-day passes that can be used at any time in a thirty-day period. Available for all zones and interzones, the price of a Five-day Flex Pass is a 10% discount when compared to five round-trip tickets.

As part of this pilot, Youth Pass holders can now purchase half-price fares for all Commuter Rail zones at ticket windows, onboard, and via the mTicket app, which was not previously available to Youth Pass holders. The Youth Pass Program is a partnership between the MBTA and participating cities and towns that offers young adults with low incomes roughly 50% reduced one-way fares or $30 monthly LinkPasses and was previously only available on bus and subway.

The MBTA also announced a one-time extension of its Commuter Rail ticket expiration policy. Understanding that many Commuter Rail customers were unable to use their tickets and passes due to the recent stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, beginning June 22, Commuter Rail customers may use expired paper tickets that were valid on March 10, 2020, onboard for the next ninety days. For expired mTickets, customers do not need to take any action – the MBTA will automatically push new mTickets to customers’ apps on June 22 for use over the next ninety days. If customers do not use these tickets before they expire, the MBTA will push re-expired tickets at the end of the state of emergency. Customers also should note that the MBTA is unable to re-issue tickets earlier than June 22.
CMRPC Studying Feasibility of Transportation Management Association; Interested Employers Encouraged to Sign Up

The Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) is conducting a research study to explore the desirability, feasibility, and viability of a Transportation Management Association (TMA) in the Central Massachusetts region.

A TMA is an entity, private, public or a combination of both, that provides transportation services in a specific area tailored to facilitate access to jobs.  A TMA can also provide institutional support for the implementation of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies.

TDM strategies include ridesharing, parking management strategies, commute trip reduction strategies (like telecommuting), pedestrian and bicycle improvements, and land use planning and coordination with residential complexes, among other strategies.

CMRPC will be seeking employers in the Central Massachusetts region, particularly along Route 9, who may be interested in taking part in this effort. If you, your business, or your organization are interested in taking part in the TMA, please click this link to sign up to receive updates. You will be contacted by CMRPC about future involvement.
Biweekly MetroWest Employer Town Hall Series

Area employers are invited to join the 495/MetroWest Partnership and the MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board for our continuing discussions, occurring every other week, surrounding critical issues business are facing. We will answer questions about the various resources that are available to companies and their workers during these difficult times.

These discussions are open to any interested party, and are held every other Wednesday at 1:00 PM via Zoom. The next session will be held on July 8th; click here to sign up!

  • Jason Palitsch, Executive Director, the 495/Metro West Partnership
  • Greg Bunn, Executive Director, MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you. Partnership operations are continuing throughout the duration of the current public health crisis, with our staff working remotely. You may reach me directly via email at [email protected] .

Jason Palitsch
Executive Director
The 495/MetroWest Partnership