Monthly Archives: October 2010

Career Family Opportunity Program Launched in Cambridge

CHA Pisani Center, Cambridge – map

On Thursday, October 7th 2010, I attended and gave brief remarks at the grand opening of the Career Family Opportunity (CFO) program in Cambridge, operated in partnership by the Crittenton Women’s Union (CWU) and the Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA). The event, which was held at the Cambridge Housing Authority’s Pisani Center, celebrated the start of an exciting and innovative social program available to single parents who are in the CHA system.  The goal of CFO is to give single parents the tools they need to become financially self-sufficient, allowing them to become independent from government assistance within 5 years of enrollment.

Beth Babcock, President and CEO of the Crittenton Women’s Union, speaking about Career Family Opportunity’s successes.

20 Cambridge families currently residing in CHA public housing have applied and been chosen to participate in CFO. CFO will help each participating parent find a job that pays enough to provide for their family, and will provide the participant with a $10,000 savings account to use for their family’s expenses. Getting families back on their feet quickly is a priority for the Cambridge Housing Authority, and as CHA Deputy Director Michael Johnston pointed out, necessary for CHA if it hopes to provide adequate housing to those who need it. There are currently 13,000 people on the CHA’s waiting list for housing, and at the current rate it will take 24 years to completely clear that list. With so many needing affordable housing now, I am very excited to see the CHA taking an innovative step forward that will help families leave public housing faster, easing the strain on an already overburdened system without imposing term-limits on residents. The CWU has operated this program with high levels of success in Boston, and I see no reason why it won’t be just as successful here in Cambridge.

CHA Deputy Director Michael Johnston speaking about how innovative programs like CFO will improve Cambridge public housing.

I spoke about how I feel that CFO and programs like it are critical for sustaining our communities in tough times.

Tricia Berry, a CFO program participant, (foreground, second from left) gave a moving speech about how CFO has helped her and her son.

The CFO program will undoubtedly have far-reaching effects for our neighbors and neighborhoods. By helping single parents, it will help their families, and with more families becoming independent faster, more of the people who need safe, affordable housing will get it when they need it.

Coming Events: Rib Fest, Somerville Ave Celebration

ECBA Smoke This Rib Fest – 10/17:

This Sunday, October 17th, from 12pm to 4pm, the East Cambridge Business Association will be holding its “Smoke This Rib Fest” on Cambridge St. between Fulkerson Street and Sixth Street. Rib tasting tickets are sold out, but there will still be plenty of food and fun to check out for those who do not have a ticket. Click here for more information!

SomerStreets Somerville Ave Grand Reopening Celebration – 10/24:

You’re invited to come celebrate the grand reopening of Somerville Ave! The celebration will take place on Sunday, October 24 from 12pm to 4 pm. See the flyer below for more information:

Craigie Bridge Detour Information

New detour information from MassDOT:

Vehicular Detours
Effective November 6, 2010, MassDOT will close all inbound travel lanes on Route 28 southbound at the intersection of Land Boulevard as part of the Craigie Drawbridge Rehabilitation Project. Outbound traffic leaving Boston through Leverett Circle will be unaffected during this period.
Traffic trying to access I-93 and Storrow Drive will be detoured east over the Gilmore (Prison Point) Bridge towards Bunker Hill Community College/City Square. Traffic heading to  I-93 Northbound will be directed left through Sullivan Square, while traffic trying to access I-93 Southbound and Route 1 (Tobin Bridge) will be directed to turn right.(see attached map) Traffic traveling to the Charles Circle Area will be detoured westbound down Land Boulevard to the Longfellow Bridge to cross the Charles River. (see attached map)
Access to the Museum of Science will not be restricted but patrons are advised to approach the Museum from Boston to avoid anticipated traffic congestion on the Cambridge side of the project.

Bike and Pedestrian Access during Construction
Full bike and pedestrian access in each direction will be maintained during construction.  During Phases 1 and 3 of the drawbridge replacement, only one side of the bridge will be opened and must be shared by inbound and outbound bike and pedestrian traffic.  A manned and signalized crossing area will be placed at the mid-point of the roadway at the Museum of Science during these phases.

Somerville Craigie Drawbridge Meeting Later this Month

The Somerville Board of Aldermen and the Somerville State Legislative Delegation are hosting a public meeting to provide an overview of the construction plans and traffic impacts for the replacement of the Craigie Drawbridge, which will impact traffic patterns in Somerville for the duration of the project. Mass. Department of Transportation (MassDOT) staff will lead the discussion and answer questions.

This project includes the complete replacement of the bridge superstructure and bridge deck as well as the machinery and electrical components. During construction temporary bridge structures will be utilized to carry traffic. Work is expected to begin in early November 2010 and conclude in April 2011. The Craigie Drawbridge Rehabilitation Project is part of the $3 billion Patrick – Murray Accelerated Bridge Program, which aims to restore and repair structurally deficient bridges across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Contact Tim Snyder in Representative Toomey’s Office for information regarding this meeting at Tim.Snyder@MAHouse.Gov or 617.722.2380.

Craigie Bridge Rehab to Cause Traffic Disruptions

Healy Public Safety Facility, Cambridge – map

On Wednesday, September 29th, I hosted a community information meeting to discuss the upcoming Craigie Drawbridge rehabilitation project and the impact that it will have on the East Cambridge neighborhood. I would like to sincerely thank everyone who attended the meeting and made their suggestions and concerns heard.

Representatives from MassDOT came to the Robert Healy Public Safety Facility on 6th Street in Cambridge to present an overview of the upcoming project and to receive feedback from the community about their plans. They made it very clear that the commute in, around, and through East Cambridge will be ugly this winter. The Craigie Drawbridge, which carries the McGrath O’Brien Highway from Land Boulevard in Cambridge to Leverett Circle in Boston, will be closed to traffic traveling from Cambridge to Boston for a total of 15 weeks this winter. Beginning on November 1st and continuing through April, an extensive restoration and rehabilitation of the Craigie Drawbridge will be undertaken as part of the Massachusetts Accelerated Bridge Program. Because the bridge is a drawbridge serving an active waterway, work on the bridge must be conducted under a Coast Guard permit which requires it to be done during the winter months when boat traffic is at its lightest. Due to this time constraint, the work will be performed on the bridge around the clock for the duration of the project.

View Larger Map

The bridge repairs will be undertaken in three phases that will bring varying degrees of traffic disruption to the area. From November 6th until the end of November, Phase 1 of the project will require that two lanes on the bridge be closed. Only the outbound lanes from Boston to Cambridge will be open. During Phase 2 of the project, which will stretch from the end of November until mid-January, 4 lanes of traffic will be open, with two going in each direction. The third and final Phase will begin in mid-January and continue through April, and will require the two lanes inbound from Cambridge to Boston to be closed in the same manner that they will be during Phase 1.

In order to limit the impact to traffic in the area, MassDOT has put together a plan that includes detours and advanced signage to warn drivers of the lane closures and direct them to alternate routes. Light timings and lane striping will be adjusted in the area to optimize traffic flow to the extent possible. MassDOT has said that they will be monitoring the traffic issues created by the lane closures closely with cameras and on-site observers, and will have a command center set up at the district headquarters to monitor and resolve issues surrounding the project.

With that said, I am disappointed that MassDOT has chosen a traffic plan that will disproportionately impact commuters and residents in Somerville and Cambridge, and that the majority of the increased traffic burden will be suffered on our side of the river. I, along with my fellow City Council members, had expressed to MassDOT our hope that they would implement a traffic plan that would allow one lane of traffic to flow in each direction during the phases of the project in which the bridge will be cut down to two lanes. Although I understand MassDOT’s concerns about keeping Leverett Circle clear of excess traffic on the Boston side of the bridge, I feel that a solution that would have spread the traffic impact more equally to both sides would have been better, and I am unhappy that they will be continuing with the plan that will close the bridge to traffic from Cambridge.

As the start of the project looms closer, I will be continuing to monitor the preparations being made to ensure that the negative impacts to our community are limited in every way possible. My office has set up a third public information meeting about this project so that residents of East Somerville, and anyone else who may wish to attend, may be able to learn about the impact the bridge replacement will have for them, and that they may voice their questions and concerns about the project to MassDOT. The meeting will be held with members of the Somerville state delegation and the Somerville Board of Alderman, and will happen on October 26th from 6pm to 8pm at Somerville City Hall. For more information about this meeting or the Craigie Drawbridge Rehabilitation, click here to download an informational flyer, or contact my office at 617-722-2380.

I will be posting more information about this project as its start date gets closer, so stay tuned.