Transportation

5 posts

Upcoming Hearing on Inman Square Safety Improvements

Inman_Study
Among the ideas included in the transportation study is a proposal to “bend” Hampshire St in order to form two intersections.

In the wake of a tragic accident that took the life of a young Cambridge woman last month, many have called for quick action to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians in the busy Inman Square intersection where she was killed. During several recent visits to Inman, I have watched cars, pedestrians, and cyclists narrowly miss each other as they try to navigate the wide “no man’s land” that exists in the center of the square. There is a real, present danger right now for everyone using this public space, and that needs to change.

After one such visit in May, I introduced a policy order in the Cambridge City Council that requested the City Manager and relevant city staff to take another look at traffic volumes and safety in Inman during the evening rush hour. About a month later, a transportation study that had been initiated in 2015 was presented to residents at Cambridge Hospital. The study includes information about daily traffic volumes in Inman, and proposes some interesting and innovative ideas about how we could make the square a safer intersection for cyclists and pedestrians to traverse.

Now, the City is looking to move forward with the design and construction of safety improvements in Inman Square. There will be many options on the table, including “bending” Hampshire St. or Cambridge St. to form two distinct, compact intersections. There are also calls for protected bike lanes in the Square’s vicinity. I strongly encourage everyone who lives, works, or passes through Inman Square to take a moment to think about how they would like to see this area improved, and to communicate your thoughts to your elected officials.  A joint public hearing will be held to discuss Inman Square safety issues and proposed changes at City Hall on July 19th starting at 5:30pm. As always, I encourage you to get in touch with me directly to share your thoughts.

McGrath/McCarthy Overpass Traffic Pattern Changes Coming April 11

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.

McCarthy2
This design document shows bike and pedestrian improvements at the Somerville Ave/Medford St intersection.

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.

Sen. Jehlen and I with MassDOT officials at the McCarthy Overpass in 2011.
Sen. Jehlen and I at the McCarthy Overpass with MassDOT staff in 2011.

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.

 

Green Line Extension Public Meetings Announced

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has announced a series of public meetings to discuss potential cost-saving measures proposed for the Green Line Extension. Right now, we are arguably at the most critical point in the project’s history as transportation officials, hired consultants, and the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board weigh what changes to make to the project. These decisions are being made on an accelerated timetable, and at this stage it is crucial that the public weigh in directly. Please consider attending these meetings in order to show the Baker Administration how important the Green Line Extension is to Somerville, Cambridge, and Medford. I also welcome any comments or questions you might have for me. You can find ways to contact me here. -Tim

The following is from a press release made by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation:

Friends –

We are pleased to inform you that a series of public meetings has been scheduled on the Green Line Extension project.

As many of you know, MassDOT and the MBTA are currently working through a re-evalaution of the Green Line Extension project, focusing on four key areas: (1) project management; (2) redesign; (3) re-procurement; and (4) the development of a reliable cost estimate and schedule. This re-evaluation has been prompted by significant cost overruns on the project, and is expected to be complete and submitted to the MassDOT Board of Directors and the MBTA Fiscal & Management Control Board in May.

In order to seek public ideas and input on the re-evaluation, MassDOT and the MBTA will be holding the following public meetings over the next two months:

Wednesday, March 2nd
5:30pm-6:30pm: Open House
6:30pm-8:00pm: Presentation and Q&A
Arts at the Armory
191 Highland Avenue – Somerville

Wednesday, March 23rd
5:30pm-6:30pm: Open House
6:30pm-8:00pm: Presentation and Q&A
Tufts University
51 Winthrop Street – Medford

Wednesday, April 13th
5:30pm-6:30pm: Open House
6:30pm-8:00pm: Presentation and Q&A
Argenziano School
290 Washington Street – Somerville

Wednesday, April 27th
5:30pm-6:30pm: Open House
6:30pm-8:00pm: Presentation and Q&A
St. Anthony’s Parish Hall
400 Cardinal Medeiros Avenue – Cambridge

Thursday, May 5th
5:30pm-6:30pm: Open House
6:30pm-8:00pm: Presentation and Q&A
St. Clement’s Parish Hall
579 Boston Avenue – Medford

Information about the meetings will also be posted to the Green Line Extension website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at info@glxinfo.com.

Thank you for your continued interest in the Green Line Extension project.