State transportation officials briefed Mayor Joseph Sullivan about a month ago on the plan pitched by undisclosed developers to add a toll lane to Route 3 to help ease congestion on the highway as it passes through Braintree and other towns.
"It is some creative thinking," Sullivan said. "There is a benefit to adding a lane to the highway."
But Sullivan also cautioned that the proposal – reported last week by the State House News Service – is only in its initial stages and that before moving ahead the MassDOT must work with developers to refine the plan and seek public input.
The toll lane, using EZ-Pass technology, would raise money to help finance the highway expansion project, slated to run nine miles from Braintree to Norwell, according to documents obtained by SHNS. Private interests would run the toll, while the state would be in charge of maintenance and operations.
Adding the extra lanes would likely mean land takings in Braintree near exit 17 heading south, Sullivan said. Train tracks on the opposite side of the highway would inhibit takings there. Any taking would most likely not involve residential land, based on what the mayor said he has seen of the plans.
Sullivan served for six years as the Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation.
A plan for Route 3 will likely be part of a larger transportation financing proposal Gov. Deval Patrick will unveil next month, Sullivan said. The governor's pitch will also include a switch from manual tollbooth operators to electronic on the Massachusetts Turnpike.
Congestion along Route 3 needs to be addressed, Sullivan said, and any major construction projects cannot rely solely on the gas tax. The toll-funded "hot lane" proposal, though not perfect, moves the conversation along, he added.
"I appreciate the creative thinking, but it needs refinement," Sullivan said.