Healey-Driscoll Administration Celebrates $3.7?Million Federal Award to Prevent Flooding in Worcester and Shrewsbury

Government and Politics

April 11, 2024

From: Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey

WORCESTER/SHREWSBURY — The Healey-Driscoll administration is celebrating a $3.7 million award from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the Route 20 and Grafton Street Interchange Project. The project will provide critical relief for areas of Worcester and Shrewsbury that have long been impacted by severe flooding. The grant was awarded under the Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) Grant Program, as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and represents 80 percent of the total project’s costs.  

“This award is a gamechanger for Worcester and Shrewsbury. We need to act now on critical transportation infrastructure projects like this, which will provide urgently needed relief for communities impacted by flooding and strengthen resilience,” said Governor Maura Healey. “We are grateful for the support of leaders in Worcester and Shrewsbury our Congressional Delegation, and the Biden-Harris administration for helping us deliver on this project and others that will benefit generations to come.” 

“We're proud to be receiving this grant that will increase road safety and resilience on this busy thoroughfare between Worcester and Shrewsbury,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “City and town leaders were strong partners in helping our administration advance this federal funding application, and we are looking forward to rebuilding the interchange and nearby road area, so this route no longer floods during major storms.” 

“We have appreciated all the help from our congressional delegation in securing federal funding for our grant applications, including for this project which will allow us to rebuild the interchange and install flood relief infrastructure,” said Transportation Secretary Monica Tibbits-Nutt. “We are grateful to our elected and municipal leaders who help us to deliver transportation infrastructure projects, especially this one, where images of the Route 20 interchange during heavy rainstorms show puddles several feet deep and extending hundreds of feet long.”   

The Healey-Driscoll Administration has taken an aggressive approach to competing for federal funding that has been successful in securing nearly $3 billion in federal dollars from BIL, as well as the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science Act and other sources of federal funding, to advance job creation, workforce development, economic competitiveness, climate resiliency, decarbonization and equity in Massachusetts. The administration also has more than $2 billion requested in applications currently pending before federal agencies to fund ongoing projects in communities across the state.?  

“This award is an important result of our whole-of-government strategy to maximize the federal funding available to Massachusetts and put federal dollars to work in our communities improving infrastructure, increasing climate resiliency, and creating good paying jobs and equitable economic growth,” said Director of Federal Funds and Infrastructure Quentin Palfrey. “Thank you to President Biden, Secretary Buttigieg and our partners in the Massachusetts congressional delegation for making possible this exciting award.”  

“Our interchange plans including the addition of drainage infrastructure have had strong local support and we are pleased to have won this PROTECT funding as it provides an opportunity to deliver on the vision of this project and its significant benefits to the municipalities involved, the central Massachusetts region, and the state as a whole,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver.  

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was designed to fund projects exactly like Route 20 and Grafton Street: enhancements that will make our roadways safer, more reliable, and more climate resilient while improving water quality for nearby communities,” said Senator Edward J. Markey. “I am proud to have worked with Senator Warren, Congressman McGovern, Governor Healey, Secretary Monica Tibbits-Nutt, and state and local officials to secure this funding.” 

"With this federal funding, we’re improving our infrastructure, bolstering our resilience, and enhancing our water quality?in Worcester and Shrewsbury?for generations to come,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “I'm going to keep fighting for federal funding to ensure a more sustainable future alongside the Massachusetts delegation and the Healey-Driscoll administration."  

“Roadway flooding stops commuters from getting to work, kids from getting to school, and emergency vehicles from providing assistance,” said Congressman James P. McGovern. “This investment of $3.7 million in federal funding will allow MassDOT to replace and expand the outdated drainage system for the Route 20 and Grafton St. interchange in Worcester. I know this section of road is prone to flooding, and thanks to the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, passed by House Democrats, overseen by Secretary Buttigieg, and signed into law by President Biden, we got this done.”  

“These funds will bring great relief to the Grafton Street/Route 20 area under the Route 122 overpass which is prone to flooding during storms and poor drainage, impacting residents’ travel,” said Worcester City Manager Eric D. Batista.  “Thank you to our federal and state partners for bringing this project forward and investing in climate resilient infrastructure that will benefit residents for years to come.”  

"Shrewsbury's newly adopted Climate Action and Resiliency Plan notes the need to prepare for the current and coming impacts of climate change including flooding, which happens often along this section of Route 20,” said Shrewsbury Select Board Chair Beth Casavant. “With increased commercial and residential?development, this funding will make our community safer by modernizing aging infrastructure to meet the challenges of today's climate. State and local partnerships?like this lead to better outcomes for all. "  

The Flood Relief on Route 20, Grafton Street, (Route 122), Interchange to Flint Pond Project presents a powerful opportunity to alleviate flooding, improve water quality, and increase transportation infrastructure climate resilience for a deficient stretch of critical roadway while supporting projected growth in the Central Massachusetts region.   

There is a history of flooding in these areas, which often results in road closures, delays, safety concerns, and vehicle damage. Records show that much of the existing drainage infrastructure was built in the 1930s, predating much of the development currently abutting this portion of the highway, and is unable to sufficiently drain the highly developed watershed. In recent years, flood frequency at the project location has increased, with the Route 20 and Grafton Street Interchange experiencing serious flooding 6 to 10 times a year. Flooding on August 19, 2021, caused several vehicles to become disabled and passengers needed the assistance of First Responders to safely get to dry land.    

Through this project, a dedicated trunk line and numerous new drainage inlets will be installed, including improvements to existing drainage infrastructure. These improvements will increase the ability of the low-lying area to drain during storm events, greatly reducing flooding frequency and duration. A stilling basin will also be added at the outfall location, which includes both existing and proposed outfalls, to reduce the potential for soil erosion at the outfall.   

This project is the result of a robust conversation with the community, analysis by transportation and water resources professionals, and deep engagement by stakeholders. Since 2018, MassDOT has spent approximately $96,000 on flood evaluation and preliminary design.  MassDOT will be spending approximately $700,000 to advance the design to the 100 percent design stage, complete subsurface utility inspection, site-specific survey, and complete state and local environmental permitting.    

The PROTECT program provides $1.4 billion in funding over five years. This program?provides funding to ensure surface transportation resilience to natural hazards including climate change, sea level rise, flooding, extreme weather events, and other natural disasters through support of planning activities, resilience improvements, community resilience and evacuation routes, and at-risk coastal infrastructure.? For more information is available here