Note: This post was moved up so it would not be lost behind our April Fools Day posts.

It’s not the bike lanes, it’s the acquisitions.

Seeking to eliminate confusion about the status of the Needham St./Highland Ave. reconstruction project, David Anderson of the Highway Division of the Department of Transportation (MassDOT), speaking at a meeting of the Boston Region Municipal Planning Organization (MPO), took pains to make it clear: MassDOT recommends the project for advertisement in FY2019 because land acquisition for the project will take longer than budgeted in the timeline. This adds an additional year to MassDOT’s previous recommendation of FY2018 for advertising the project.

According to Mr. Anderson, a timeline review was done of the 75% design, which was published in September. The review was based entirely on the 75% design as published in September. The review did not consider any design feedback to the 75% design from inside or outside MassDOT.

Mr. Anderson noted that the project is not facing any specific issues with particular acquisitions, MassDOT just recalculated the effort to better reflect the complexity of acquisitions, especially given federal protection for property owners.

Contributing to the confusion, MassDOT has initiated, of its own accord, a design review of the entire project. As Mr. Anderson noted, the project has been in design for a while and design standards have changed. MassDOT wants to make sure that the project meets current design standards. Mr. Anderson assured MPO members that any design changes are unlikely to require further delay for advertising the project.

Takeaway: this is an extremely important project on the state list. It’s going to take a little longer to get going than recently planned. MassDOT seems committed to getting it built and built right.