WESTFIELD — City officials met with representatives of the state’s Department of Transportation last month to “initiate” the reconfiguration of Exit 41 on the Massachusetts Turnpike.

“We initiated the project with [MassDOT] and are waiting for their feedback,” City Engineer Allison McMordie said on May 16. “We’re anticipating a lot of review, given the complexity of the project.”

For at least a decade, the city has been asking MassDOT to address what nearly every city commuter knows — the Westfield interchange on Interstate 90 is a bottleneck for local traffic along Routes 10 and 202, especially during morning and afternoon commutes.

McMordie said the next step in the process is to have the city and state define their roles in the project.

As an example of the roles each might take, McMordie said the renovation of Western Avenue was a joint effort, with the city paying for the design work and the state funding the reconstruction, and both levels of government involved on a daily basis.

The Western Avenue project is unlike the Cowles Bridge replacement, which was designed and funded completely by the state, with little or no involvement of the city.

McMordie said working together provides the best chance for the project to go forward.

She said there is another meeting scheduled between the city and MassDOT in June to continuing refining the role each will play in the project. Once that is determined, the project will be presented to MassDOT’s Project Review Committee and assigned a project number. That is the first step toward being included in the state’s Transportation Improvement Plan, the list of projects to receive state funding. Being assigned a TIP number doesn’t guarantee funding, but it increases the probability.

The city has already funded a preliminary design of reconfiguring the exit ramps and nearby intersections. After being commissioned in 2021 to redesign the interchange, the engineering firm McMahon Associates Inc. proposed a three-phase project, with Phase I opening a new on-ramp for traffic to join eastbound I-90 via Industrial Park Road, bypassing the former tollbooth interchange completely.

Phase II would build a rotary in place of the current traffic lights where Southampton Road and North Elm Street (Routes 10 and 202) meet the turnpike ramps and Friendly’s Way.

Phase III would build a rotary at North Elm Street and Holyoke Road, calming traffic as it approaches the turnpike interchange and eliminating one of the city’s most dangerous left turns.

While there has yet to be a cost estimate for the entire combined project, the estimated cost of Phase I is $9.3 million. McMordie said that comprises $7.19 million for construction and $1.4 million as a contingency. She noted that Phase I is considered the “easiest” of the three phases, because there is little construction needed.

She said the design of Phase I is 25% complete, with work still needing to be done to address drainage and moving utilities. The city is covering the design cost of the project using American Rescue Plan Act funding, McMordie said.

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