All the views that’s fit to print: Mass. Ave., Question 1, Arlington Advocate

The Arlington Advocate yesterday posted online Senator Ken Donnelly’s big red flag about Question 1, the anti–Mass. Ave. referendum. It also posted five other recent Advocate commentaries.

Senator Donnelly warns "we will lose this project" to other communities if we do not act this year.

Senator Donnelly makes a similar warning at the Feb. 26 Mass. Ave. hearing at Town Hall

Senator Donnelly warns, among other things,

If we do not move forward now, the town would once again have to apply to place the project on the state project list, which is a process that takes years…. If we do not meet the September deadline, it is most likely that we will lose the 100-percent funding—$6.8 million—that has been allotted to fix Mass. Avenue in East Arlington.

Read Donnelly’s “It may be Now for Mass Ave Corridor Project in Arlington, or Never.”

Foes of the Mass. Ave. project do not address the funding issue at all, but would like you to vote for Question 1 to stop the project from going forward.

Other Mass. Ave. and referendum commentary is as follows:

Eric Berger explains how he decided that the Mass. Ave. plan was developed in secret before planning actually began in 2008. His proof is that there were no planning meetings until that year:

I submitted an official public records request in November 2012 seeking documents, like minutes, of any public meeting on the corridor project from 2002 to 2008. No documents were sent to me because none existed because no meetings had been held. They were never held because the town and MassDOT knew if the public had been involved from the onset in 2002, or anywhere along, widespread opposition would surface regarding the proposed elimination of travel lanes to make room for bicycle lanes.

It’s all in Berger’s “Arlington’s Mass. Ave. Corridor Project Developed in Secret.”

On behalf of the Town’s Transportation Advisory Committee, Richard Turcotte writes, “Arlington’s TAC Supports Mass. Ave. Corridor Project.” A key statement echoes Donnelly’s warning:

Failure to move forward on this project at this time will represent not only an unjustifiable and irretrievable loss of millions of dollars in funding, but a complete disregard of the democratic policy-making process which facilitated this effort from the beginning.

The TAC essay also provides the most in-depth explanation of the trade-offs and features of the new design. If you are still getting up to speed on those issues at this point, it’s a must-read.

Selectman Dan Dunn’s short essay may also be the most powerful. It is titled “Support the Balanced Plan in Arlington, Reject Ballot Question 1.”

Dan Dunn says a Yes vote forfeits $6,8M

Dan Dunn says a Yes vote forfeits $6,8M

Dunn, who served as a member of Arlington’s Finance Committee before being elected to the Board of Selectmen two years ago, makes the fiscally conservative case against Question 1:

The reason we must start now is simple: if we do not start this project, the state will re-assign the $6.8 million that is allocated to the project. That would be a terrible blow to Arlington’s budget.

Consider the Proposition 2.5 override that the voters approved in 2011: that override was for $6.5 million. The Mass Ave project is being funded by $6.8 million of state and federal funds. If we do not move this project forward now, we are passing up more than a year’s worth of a tax override funds.

Thomas Lisco, a retired traffic engineer, opposes the new design based on his knowledge of high-occupancy-vehicle lanes on major highways. He concludes in “Arlington’s Mass Avenue Plan Unsafe“:

For the above reasons, the current unsafe plan for rebuilding Mass. Avenue must be abandoned. A median needs to be installed, four lanes of traffic must be maintained and the needs of bicyclists can easily be addressed through the use of sharrows, which are a common expedient where space needs preclude the establishment of separate new bicycle lanes.

Lifelong Arlington resident Anthony Lionetta, a member of the Town’s Capital Planning Committee, is more down-to-earth. He begins his short column by asking,

Would you wear oversized clothing, say pants with a way larger waist than you need? Why would you want more travel lanes than is needed, particularly at the expense of public safety?

Lionetta is also one of the original members of the Mass. Ave. Review Committee. His thoughts are entitled “A Perspective on Arlington’s Mass(ive) Avenue Project.”

On the oddly worded Question 1, a Yes vote seeks to reject the plan while a No vote is in favor of the project and of qualifying for the funding.

Kudos to the Arlington Advocate for making these opinions and analysis available online. The vote is April 6.


2 comments so far

  1. ewhite37 on

    As most of these articles show, this is not about ‘safety’ as traffic backup and congested main thoroughfares will force yet more traffic onto residential streets, making it far less safe. It is not about cycling, as the Center would remain 4 lanes onward and Cambridge would as well, making the ‘bike lane’ only about a mile long. It would reduce the roadway for the vast majority of commuters (autos) by 25% for the occasional bike commuter to have a one mile stretch with no bike lane on either side? So let’s not pretend that is the reason either. It is about the town trying to get federal cash to pay for workers and projects (such as a redo of the Center where Broadway meets Mass Ave) when they have not managed the current finances well enough and want a bail out. It is a short term windfall of cash which will do long term harm to the East Arlington community that will bear the brunt of it.

    • Adam Auster on

      I don’t see how any of the above supports that opinion, though you are of course entitled to it.

      Most people I know who support the design do so because of the pedestrian-safety features, which are only possible because removing the unneeded extra lane makes room for them.

      I think the thrust of Donnelly’s and Dunn’s columns is that we are out of time to tweak this design any further, and by the way the design is pretty good.

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