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Gutierrez Company Presents Traffic Plan for Proposed Target

The Gutierrez Company is looking to sell a piece of land to Target for a new store off of Wheeler Road near Middlesex Turnpike and Route 128.

 attended a Planning Board Sub-Committee meeting last week to discuss traffic plans for project off of Wheeler Road in the "Canyon site" and this week Burlington Patch sat down with the company's Managing Director of Commercial Development Scott Weiss for more details.

The background on the project is that in the fall of 2010 the Gutierrez Company entered an agreement to potentially purchase the 15.3 acre piece of state-owned land that located adjacent to Wheeler Road and near the Middlesex Turnpike (see map at right) from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, often referred to as the Canyon Site. Gutierrez determined the piece of land would be ideal for a retail location eventually began discussions with Target. The plan now calls for a Target location, owned by the retailer, and an adjacent restaurant location Gutierrez is planning to lease to a restaurant group.

Weiss said that in order to move forward with the project, Gutierrez will need Burlington Town Meeting approval to change the zoning of the land to allow for this type of project. Currently the company is planning on putting a warrant article to this affect for the January 23 Town Meeting. Weiss stressed the zoning change would allow for retail and a restaurant, but not for an entertainment destination such as .

Weiss said he understand that in order to get Town Meeting approval, Gutierrez needs to allay concerns surrounding the project. One of the biggest potential concerns, he said, is fears of increased traffic congestion. However, Weiss said he is confident the traffic improvement plans the developer has put together and that will be part of the agreement with the town will not only ease fears but also improve the traffic flow in the area once completed.

"We’re part of the community and that’s a big component to us," Weiss said, adding that Gutierrez owns an office building adjacent to the Canyon Site and so doesn't want make it difficult for employees there to get to work. "With an existing building next to the project, we don’t want to impact traffic. We don’t want get a new retail building but an empty office at the same time."

Funding for the Traffic Improvement Plan:

Weiss explained that his company has $2 million dedicated for traffic improvements for the intersection near Wheeler Road and Route 128 and that Mass DoT has pledged an additional $1 million for improvement along the Middlesex Turnpike through Lexington.

"The town said it wouldn’t be supportive unless we could show real improvements on Middlesex Turnpike, not just near Wheeler Road but down to Lexington," Weiss explained. "So we extended our plan to the whole area."

Weiss said that having the Department of Transportation involved is also helpful because as an official state department, it can take edges of property owned by businesses to widen the road, something Gutierrez couldn't do itself.

"We’re trying to be very respectful to do the maximum we can without disrupting operations [of local businesses]," he said. "In the end this should be a net benefit to them because the improved traffic flow will help them." 

Weiss also said that if approved, Gutierrez will apply for a MassWorks grant, similar to those granted for the , for studies of further improvements and work.

Traffic Improvement Plan:

So how does Gutierrez plan to improve traffic?

At the Middlesex Turnpike, Wheeler Road and 128 Intersection, where Best Buy is located, the plan calls for a number of changes (see 2nd map at right):

  • The exit ramp for Route 128 will be moved slightly so it lines up with Wheeler Road. 
  • Middlesex Turnpike coming from Lexington will be widened and a left-turn lane from the turnpike into Wheeler Road will be added.
  • Middlesex Turnpike from the Burlington Mall will be widened.

There are also changes in the plans for the intersection of Middlesex Turnpike and Adams Street, where Market Basket and H-Mart are located (see 3rd map):

  • Lanes at Middlesex Turnpike at the intersection will be restriped.
  • The turn from Adams Street to Middlesex Turnpike will be cut further to allow easier exit.

There will be a discussion at the January 5 Planning Board meeting with a representative of Target. Additionally, Gutierrez will be hodling public informational meeting on the talk, one from 4 to 6 p.m. on Jan. 17 in the Town Hall Annex basement meeting room and a second from 4 to 8 p.m. on Jan. 18 in the Town Hall basement meeting room. 

What do you think of the proposed Target? This is going to be a big story and Burlington Patch will cover it as it evolves. What are your thoughts and what questions would you like to have answered as we continue our coverage? Let us know in the comments section below or email Richard.Hosford@Patch.com.

Editor's note: In the original version of this story it said that Gutierrez had purchased the land instead of being in an agreement to purchase. 

Kate December 30, 2011 at 12:45 PM
Are they serious?
Barbara L'Heureux December 30, 2011 at 01:19 PM
I was not at the meeting, but if I understand these maps correctly, it looks like they want to make Middlesex Tpk three lanes in the section from Best Buy to HMart. I don't see how that will help because all the traffic will still have to flow into two lanes in a short distance. Also, how will cars cross over three lanes of traffic to turn into businesses where there are no lights? This plan may work for Gutierrez and HMart but what about the smaller businesses all along the turnpike? Will they be adding more signaled intersections? I also think that having a three lanes in each direction will increase speeds and therefore be more dangerous. This sounds a lot like the area outside the Pheasant Lane mall in Nashua -three lanes, lots of lights, and still unbearable traffic congestion. Lastly, it looks like these is only one access into the Target site. Doesn't a development like that need at least two access points?
Alan Millner December 30, 2011 at 04:10 PM
The traffic from a 150,000 square foot Target store would be added to the traffic problems already found on the Middlesex Turnpike, in the area where cars from the Burlington Mall, Demoulas Market Basket, H Mart, Best Buy and the Burlington Cinema already make gridlock the norm, and the overpass for Rte. 95 constrains any solution. The proposed remediation plan by the Gutierrez company would create a Middlesex Turnpike varying from 6 to 9 lanes wide, with shoppers crossing all 9 lanes to traverse between the Burlington Mall and the new Target. The Burlington and Lexington residents of North Street, who had their back yards taken by the state for a highway never built, would have a huge store with night deliveries and the truck noise and car traffic that goes with it, child safety, air pollution and lighting issues, literally in their back yards. The company wants to rush this change through the Burlington planning board and town meeting this January. The southeastern portion of the property may drain parking lot runoff into Vine Brook, which feeds Burlington’s drinking water wells. Taking land by eminent domain for public good is one thing, but using it for commercial development pushes the fringes of abuse of state power.
Barbara L'Heureux December 30, 2011 at 04:43 PM
Alan - you are right. I am shocked and appalled that the State can somehow take land from the Town and from individual property owners by eminent domain and then turn around and sell that land to a developer for a profit. It should be illegal - perhaps it is. Furthermore, this developer bought residentially zoned property (and paid for it based on that zoning). Why should he now be able to re-zone it in order to make a huge profit at the expense of the very neighbors who were bilked by the State??
J. Parker December 30, 2011 at 07:21 PM
Hopefully Town Meeting will sit up and take notice of the injustice. Also, if the Lexington neighbors that spoke out at the Planning Board meeting make their presence known at Town Meeting on Jan.23rd., the Members will realize their plight. Neighborhoods on this side of town are being boxed into a citified situation as it is ! We don't need another Target store when there is one in the next town over. And, as is noticed, that store is far away from any neighborhoods....Set in an area of all businesses without highway congestion like we have here on the Turnpike. The whole idea iis ludicrous, and our Town officials should see it as such.

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