Teel-Thorndike traffic light gains

A preliminary review of the 25-percent plans for Mass. Ave. submitted by the Selectmen last summer supports keeping the traffic signal at Thorndike and Teel Streets in East Arlington. Similar support for the Linwood & Foster signal is absent. These traffic lights do not meet state warrants, or requirements, for traffic signals. However, the Town included them in the plan at the request of neighbors. (Disclosure: I am one of them.) The review is in the form of an internal memo from staff engineers at Mass DOT, the state’s new transportation agency. A copy was made available to the town last week, but its intended audience seems to be the engineering firm that the Town hired for the redesign, Fay Spofford & Thorndike. (Update: A copy of the memo is here — kudos to Bob Sprague at YourArlington.com). This memo is technical, full of stuff like this:

We suggest the consultant’s plans include survey traverse points and sufficient relational geometry to layout the baseline. The traverse bearings and distances may also be included if they don’t confuse or clutter the plans.

I’m not equipped to evaluate most of it, but hope to post a translation as I learn more. Meanwhile it’s clear that the Fay Spofford people have some work to do. Here are a few points, as examples of subject matter:

  • At the eastern edge of the project, “Revise the median and sidewalks to accommodate the recently advertised Minuteman Bikepath connector.”
  • “Traffic forecasts are projected for only ten years (twenty year is the norm).” What about that, Fay Spoffard?
  • “We agree with the tactic of relocating hydrants to reinforce parking restrictions, however…. have the proposed hydrant relocations been discussed with the City’s [sic] Fire Department?”

There is something for everyone in this memo. Advocates for pedestrian safety can take heart that the core goals and elements of the plan do not seem to be at stake. Opponents will be pleased by the tone of the memo, which is sometimes highly critical. (Are they truly ticked off at Fay Spofford, or is that just how engineers communicate? At least some of the rhetoric seems connected to minor points that are easily fixable.) The Town can be glad that it has a road map of everything likely to be at issue in the hearings for these plans. Even the Fay Spofford engineers have a few things to throw back in the faces of their colleagues at Mass DOT. The memo refers to “Mass Ave and Mystic Parkway (Rte 16)” and takes the proposal to task for failing to propose any changes to that dysfunctional intersection. However, the name of the street is Alewife Brook Parkway, and its intersection with Mass. Ave. is in Cambridge and, unfortunately for us, outside the jurisdiction of Arlington or its plan.

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