Some substantial changes are coming to the Somerville Avenue/Medford Street Intersection at McGrath Highway. On April 11th, the Somerville Ave off-ramp will permanently close to traffic, along with the tunnel under the McCarthy Overpass that connects Somerville Ave and Medford Street to Washington Street.
After the closure, drivers who wish to access Somerville Avenue via the off-ramp should use the Washington St off-ramp instead.
These changes make way for a new intersection at Somerville Ave and Medford Street that significantly improves pedestrian safety, especially for people attempting to cross to or from Somerville Ave via McGrath Highway. Pedestrians crossing to and from Poplar St. on the northbound side of McGrath will now have a fully signalized crosswalk to use. A number of other improvements, including bike boxes and bike lanes, will also be added to improve cyclist visibility and comfort in what has in the past been a very difficult and dangerous area for cyclists.
Closure of the off-ramp and tunnel will allow for curb and sidewalk work to be completed, which will be followed by resurfacing of the area surrounding the McCarthy overpass and finally the installation of new pavement markings. Construction is expected to wrap up by this summer.
Improving safety and connectivity in this area of Somerville has been an ongoing priority of mine and the short-term improvements opening over the next months are a step in the right direction. They are the result of advocates and elected officials leveraging a bridge repair project (needed to keep the McCarthy Overpass from more or less crumbling to the ground) into a more complete project that addressed some of the immediate needs of the cyclists and pedestrians (not just cars) trying to use these city streets. In the meantime, the work that the Somerville community has put into the McGrath Boulevard/Grounding McGrath design process has given us a realistic alternative to the McCarthy Overpass and has opened the door for its ultimate demolition and removal. It has been a very encouraging process and one that I am proud to say I have been a part of.
I will be posting more updates about this improvement project as construction wraps up, as well as more updates about the Grounding McGrath project in the weeks and months ahead. As always, I look forward to hearing from you, so please don’t hesitate to contact me directly or post in the comments below.