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WOBURN, MA-In an unusual move for the state’s highway agency, the Massachusetts Highway Department suspended its feasibility study for the Route 93/Route 95 interchange project in Reading, Stoneham and Woburn.

The department’s acting commissioner John Cogliano says that a task force will be formed to “examine transportation issues in the interchange area” which essentially puts the project back at square one.

“I am suspending the feasibility study in order to create a task force which will have a two-fold purpose,” says Cogliano. “It will look at near-term solutions to improve safety and traffic flow within the existing right-of-way, and also examine long-term regional transportation issues in the interchange area. The task force will get all stakeholders to the table, and enable us to continue to work together to address the issues of safety and

The current interchange has the highest volume of traffic in the state and is the site of more than 200 accidents a year. The state has been trying to figure out for some time how to upgrade the interchange. This past summer, it presented a plan that would have involved taking over 70 residential properties in Reading but fierce local opposition there forced it to reconsider alternatives.

The state’s most recent plans, unveiled at the beginning of this week, involved 20 residential properties in Reading with the majority of the land the state would take shifted over to Woburn. The properties here involved both residential and commercial ones and ignited another wave of intense opposition among local residents and businesspeople.

“They are going to start the whole process all over again and get the communities involved this time,” a Reading town representative tells GlobeSt.com.

As a result of the decision to suspend the study, public informational meetings planned for Woburn and Stoneham have been cancelled.

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