New drawings at Town Day may be final

New plans for Mass. Ave. in East Arlington that would partially restore the traversable median proposed last year were unveiled at Town Day earlier today.

The plans may be submitted to the state within a few weeks, according to Town Planner Laura Wiener, who is overseeing the project.

East Arlington business district plans, September 25. Click for detailed view.

The basic features, such as the lane configuration and dedicated bicycle lanes, are unchanged from the version approved by the Town a year ago. In particular, the design still calls for

  • A single travel lane for most of the outbound (Westbound) traffic;
  • Two 11-foot travel lanes inbound;
  • Five-foot bicycle lanes in both directions;
  • Traffic signals at Teel and Linwood Streets, where there are signals today (and which had been in doubt), and a new signal at Bates Road;
  • Improved pedestrian crossings.

New since the previous drawings:

  • A 6-foot textured median, flush with the pavement, from Orvis Road to Milton Street.
  • On the stretch of road with the median, parking lanes would be 8.5 feet wide; elsewhere they would be 10 feet.
  • Where there is no median proposed, the width of the outbound travel lane would swell to as much as 15 feet (11 feet otherwise).

Finally, all of the unsignalized pedestrian crossings have at least one bump-out (most have two). This is unchanged from the draft plans circulated last August.

The plan approved last year had a 5-foot traversable median for nearly all of the project, and parking lanes of about 9 feet of width (with some variation). Interim versions of the plan would have done way with the median.

However, the effect of the final version is to shift six inches from each of the parking lanes to the median, in the stretch where the median was restored to the plans.

The town provided copies of the new drawings, mounted on foamcore board, to the Town Day tables of the Transportation Advisory Committee and of two community groups, the East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition and the East Arlington Concerned Citizens Committee. Further information was not available today.

I expect that the Town will post the drawings on its web site soon; the graphic I provide above is a photograph I took at Town Day.

These plans are what is called 25-percent drawings that set forth the major contours of the project. Finer levels of design detail will be decided in subsequent design reviews.

Once the Town submits these drawings, and a detailed Functional Design Report, to the state, Mass. Highway will hold a public hearing in Arlington before deciding whether to approve the plan. Stay tuned.

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6 comments so far

  1. Mark Kaepplein on

    I don’t understand the point of a wide, flush median unless its to give continuity to raised, pedestrian refuge islands (which provide the greatest crossing safety). Otherwise, wider parking spaces which accommodate winter snow are a better use of space.

    For the new traffic signal, please reuse the one at Broadway and Franklin. It causes cut-through traffic on Palmer and Wyman. Replace with 4-way stop.

  2. Tim Moloney on

    A comment regarding the bike lanes. While attempting to get to Roslindale several weeks ago I found myself on Washington St. in Boston between Forest Hills T Station, J.P. and Roslindale Sq., Roslindale. In addition to 1 traffic lane and parking on either side, there are now bike lanes.

    If this more congested and narrower section of Washington St. can handle bike lanes, Mass Ave can as well.

    • Adam Auster on

      Mass. Ave. is extraordinarily wide, and as the plans show, there is room for everybody.

      But opponents love to talk about bicycles. I honestly can’t tell if this is sincere or a ploy to muddy the waters with a big fight over a nonissue.

      I think that for a small group of Arlington residents, bike lanes symbolize all kinds of things that are unrelated to the transportation questions.

  3. Matt on

    One lane from 16 to Arlington Center? Really? One lane? Yikes. Why don’t we start with some lane markers? God forbid you’re visiting from out of the town and you don’t know the secret Mass Ave. lane code.

  4. Chris on

    A 6 foot median seems a tremendous waste of space. Why not give that footage to the sidewalks? More sidewalks = more foot traffic = more business for local businesses. Maybe some more bench seating so that people can enjoy their coffee outside? Lexington Center does a nice job of this, there are always people out in front of the stores or just walking around.

    • Adam Auster on

      I am also a fan of Lexington Center – who isn’t? And the question of what to do with all that extra width in Arlington, a legacy from the days when a trolley line ran down the center of the street, has bedeviled this project from its beginning.

      However, consider this. The plan would widen sidewalks in the business districts (something that people fought pretty hard for). Elsewhere, meanwhile, proposals to add width to sidewalks got some stiff opposition from business owners.

      I’m inclined to think this was short-sighted. But it is a fallacy to say that more width = more foot traffic. Lexington Center succeeds in large part because of compact density, something we don’t have comparably anywhere along Mass. Ave. (Lexington’s street design doesn’t hurt, though!)


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