Mass. Ave. loses safety features in abrupt design change

Both the pedestrian island (dark grey) and the flush median (crosshatched) are no longer in the plan for the Wyman St. crossing.

Arlington has changed its design for the western segment of the Mass. Ave. project, stripping the pedestrian crossing at Wyman St. of many safety features.

These include a pedestrian island that had been added in response to community concerns.

These changes allow for a second lane of inbound traffic that the Town’s consulting engineers had previously determined was not necessary.

The Town filed these and other changes with Mass. Highway in late February along with the final 75%-design plans.

According to the Planning Department, these changes will be presented to the public at an open house at the Community Room at the Fox Library Hardy School cafeteria April 4 from 6 to 8 pm.

(Update: The meeting has been moved to Hardy.)

The addition of the third lane, itself a hazard to pedestrians, will also eliminate several left-turn lanes that would have improved traffic flow.

Safety features that apparently remain in the plan include the single outbound lane, the bicycle lanes, and bump-outs at Wyman St. The design east of Linwood St. is not affected.

Although the Wyman crossing sees the most drastic changes, the new design will affect the entire quarter mile west of Linwood Street, eliminating the traversable median that had been part of the design there since 2009 and generally making the road faster.

The design of the entire western segment of the project changed last month. Apparently lost are both the traversable safety median and the dedicated left-turn lanes, in favor of two through lanes inbound and a basic double yellow stripe.

The April 4 meeting is for informational purposes, not to solicit comments , and the Community Room at the Fox is not ADA-accessible .

The drawings are pre-change; click for closer view.

My comments, in red.

This inadequate report reflects what I know at the moment about this perplexing development.

Just to be clear: this is not a proposal, this is a change that is intended to be final.

As someone whose entry to all of this was pedestrian safety, walking my daughter to the Hardy school every morning, I am very concerned about any change that makes Mass. Ave. more dangerous.

That is what these changes do, whatever other needs they satisfy.

1 comment so far

  1. Mark Kaepplein on

    The previous treatment at Wyman created a traffic choke point. Unfortunately, they made the wrong choices to address it. Medians are proven to reduce accidents, while bump outs are not. Furthermore, the mid-block bump out results in loss of very high utilization parking. They should have kept the raised median and lost the bump outs.

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