Sad sidewalks

Among the many things that have gotten lost in all the Mass. Ave. theatrics is the place where people walk.

Asphalt patches do not last or look good

It’s still pretty traversable for an able-bodied person like me, but there are some rough patches and the sidewalk as a whole is run down, cracked, patched, and crumbling.

Our first photo above shows almost the entire sidewalk in front of the former Hollywood Video. It looks as though the sidewalk was dug up for a gas line and repaired haphazard. Asphalt patches the sidewalk in many places along Mass. Ave.; this might be the largest example.

The whole surface is crumbling

I chose it not for its size, but because it shows several problems at once. The sidewalk next to the patch is crumbling–not just cracked, but friable and soft.

The patch is going too.

Indeed, the patch is failing as well, and the sidewalk is badly cracked. This whole area feels old and neglected.

(Notice how empty Mass. Ave is in the large photo above? It’s about 7:45 on a weekday morning. A previous photo essay looked at rush-hour traffic on this stretch of Mass. Ave.)

These photos show some of the worst examples, though I did not survey all of Mass. Ave. However, you do not have to look hard, or far, to find stuff like this in East Arlington. It’s all over the place.

Fresh sidewalk

Some patches are in great shape, however, such as these four squares between Henderson St. and Teel.

They were poured the day before I shot them, and suggest what the sidewalks were like when new 30 or 40 years ago.

Driveway ramp on its way out

Click on any photo for a larger view.

A bit further on the same block, this driveway is disintegrating.

Because of its location at a bus stop, this driveway is also used by pedestrians getting on and off the bus, especially in the winter.

Below is the same block from the other direction.

Somehow the road has migrated onto the curb ramp.

Curb ramp at Teel St., looking east.

Curb ramps are especially important to people with disabilities. A fall there can land in front of a motor vehicle.

Here are a few more of them.

Marathon St. curb ramp

Chandler St. curb ramp

Edgerton St. curb ramp


You have to look for it, but I have included a quarter dollar in the Chandler St. photo, and a few others, to indicate scale.

Here are a few other familiar locations.

Sidewalk separation near Cleveland St.

At the Arlington Diner

Centennial Park brick heaves, south side

Centennial Park, north of Mass. Ave.

Some of this poses a genuine difficulty to those using chairs and walkers to get around. Some of it is just plain shabby. All of it is just going to get worse if not replaced.

Michael Rademacher, Arlington’s Town Engineer (and now DPW Director), told us nearly two years ago that Mass. Ave. in East Arlington is at the end of its “useful lifespan.” He said the sidewalks were in “rough shape.” This what he meant.

With all the focus on the road, it’s easy to forget that we’ll be getting new sidewalks too.

1 comment so far

  1. Mark Kaepplein on

    You have pointed out some clear sore spots. However, in most of the pictures, the background looks good. The brickwork at Centennial Park has endured far less well than the concrete sidewalk – unfortunately, neither pictured problem is in the plan to be replaced. There are some complete sections needing re-doing, for example on Lake, next to the Capitol. It needs complete re-grading, an angle about 5 degrees towards the street now. That sidewalk needs narrowing too so cyclists have more room on Lake there – pedestrians are given excess above MassDOT standards, thus not fairly accommodating cyclists. Slight narrowing might be in the plan – hard to tell.

    Its a tough call. Have inconsistent sidewalk and perhaps one quarter the easements and cost to the town, better likelihood of saving more trees, and having fewer businesses and residences disrupted, or do it all, looking clean and tidy for decades ahead.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: