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My waistline took a beating this week. We welcomed two new restaurants to the area as both the Bonefish Grill and Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza opened up at University Station in Westwood. Chamber members and staff participated in Ribbon Cutting ceremonies for each restaurant, which of course were followed by a sampling of their menu items. From the shrimp and sushi at Bonefish Grill to the meatballs and pizza at Anthony’s, we were overwhelmed with delicious food and hospitality.

The restaurants were just two of the latest openings at University Station, the mixed-use development that has been so long in the making. Many other retail and dining establishments have opened including other Chamber members like Fidelity Investments, dressbarn and Life Time Athletic. Still to come are; Wegman’s, Bridges Memory Care Assisted Living, Gables Residential (350 luxury apartments), Blue Hills Bank and more. The development is transforming the former office park into a retail powerhouse along the lines of Legacy Place and Patriot Place. The new commercial tax revenue is certainly welcome by the town of Westwood and with thousands of new jobs being created, local high school and college students will have no excuse not to work this summer.

Of course with all this activity come people and cars. The development will undoubtedly create increased traffic through the area. Much of the anticipated increase was expected to be handled by improvements to the Route 95/93 Interchange in Canton. That reconfiguration, along with new ramps being built from Route 95 to Dedham Street in Canton, was a key component of the regional traffic plan to accommodate University Station and other economic development in the area. As a leading advocate for the improvements, the Chamber was pleased when the state approved funding for the project in July 2013.

Those transportation improvements are now on hold as the Baker administration begins to establish its own spending priorities. The Chamber is gravely concerned that these needed improvements may not be funded. This would be a disservice to the region, the developers and all who have worked so hard to make this a reality. From an economic development, safety, congestion and environmental standpoint, we feel these improvements must go forward. We will continue to work with our local and state partners to bring our message to the Governor regarding the importance of the Interchange project, not only to University Station, but the entire Neponset Valley region.

In the meantime we are continuing to see signs of an improving economy at University Station and elsewhere. Hiring signs are adorning buildings throughout the area, several new projects are being built along Route 1 and Canton just approved its own mixed-use development at the former Plymouth Rubber plant. Spring is upon us and more than just the trees are blooming.

Now I need to go work off that pizza.