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Bill Adds $10M for Tech Center

By From the Lowell Sun

By Hillary Chabot

BOSTON -- Lowell lawmakers have come up with another $10 million for UMass Lowell's Emerging Technology and Innovation Center.

Rep. Kevin Murphy said the funding will help complete the $80 million project. It was included in a $1 billion life-science bill that House members gave initial approval to last night.

"This should ensure the expanded emerging-technologies building will come to fruition," said Murphy, a Lowell Democrat.

The 97,000-square-foot technology center will house faculty, staff and equipment engaged in researching how to mass-produce both nanotechnology and biomedical devices, among other cutting-edge inventions. It will sit beside Lydon Library at what is now Smith Hall, a 110-bed dormitory. Also proposed is an adjacent $15 million, 500-space parking garage.

"This is a huge victory for the Merrimack Valley," said Rep. Tom Golden, D-Lowell.

The life-science bill, meant to jump-start a once-thriving industry in the Bay State, also includes $12.6 million for an Interstate 93 interchange proposed for the so-called Lowell Junction, where the borders of Andover, Tewksbury and Wilmington meet.

The bill was sent to Golden's committee last night and is expected to be passed today.

The interchange was not included in Gov. Deval Patrick's initial bill, but legislators added the cash to encourage the expansion of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in Andover and spark up to 11,000 additional jobs for the area.

Rep. Jim Miceli, D-Wilmington, said he welcomes the funding but noted that there are traffic issues.

"They have problems with the traffic discharging onto side streets," he said. "But we really appreciate the money. This will get the project moving."

The funding for the interchange would join $2.4 million already pledged by Patrick toward the $55 million project. The development is expected to alleviate congestion on local roads and revitalize the area.

The interchange is being reviewed at the state level by the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.