Mass. DOT justifies Mass. Ave. design

The design for the Mass. Ave. project in East Arlington meets state and federal requirements for bicycles and pedestrians and satisfies other other criteria, according to a May 28 letter from Thomas Broderick of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Broderick, the chief engineer of MassDOT’s Highway Division, made his reply to written comments on the plan filed in conjunction with last February’s hearing.

The letter shows a state agency that has fully embraced the Town’s design. Federal review, however, is still pending.

About half of Broderick’s letter replies specifically to issues raised at the hearing and in comments about traffic, parking, construction, delivery vehicles, the Minuteman Trail, emergency-response time, and the location of the inbound bus stop at Lake Street. Broderick writes as follows.

We offer the following responses to some commonly asked questions:

  • The project as designed does not add traffic to the Mass Ave. corridor or divert traffic to side streets, and the roadway has been designed to satisfactorily facilitate existing and future traffic volumes

  • During construction Mass Ave. will be open to traffic in both directions and access to businesses and private property will be maintained at all times. Work on sidewalks will be performed as expeditiously as possible to minimize impacts to adjacent property ad businesses.

  • Delivery trucks will be able to make deliveries as they do today, in the existing parking lane or adjacent to parking. The new travel lanes are located away from the parking lane so that delivery trucks will not block the adjacent travel lane. Delivery trucks will sometimes encroach into the bike lane.

  • Bicycle diversions from the Minuteman Trail are not anticipated as the destination is different from that of bicyclists traveling along mass Ave. The Minuteman Trail ends at Alewife Station which is approximately a half mile from Mass Ave. in Cambridge.

  • Emergency response time will not be affected by the new design. There will be ample room for vehicles to pull out of the path of Emergency vehicles as they currently do today.

  • The town ad FST, Inc. [Fay Spofford & Thorndike, the Town’s consulting engineers for the project] have investigated alternative locations for the bust stop currently situated in front of the Capitol Theater. In response to community input, the Town has determined that the bus stop should remain in its present location. Relocating the bus stop would result in the loss of at least 3 parking spaces and the loss of a loading location for a small business important to the business district. The Town recognizes that this is not an ideal location, but rather a compromise that meets many but not all of the community’s needs.

Things have come a long way since 2010, when the state found many defects in an earlier draft of the design for Mass. Ave.

I’m not sure who is getting Broderick’s letter (not me, at least so far), but it appears to be a reply to written comments.

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