Arlington will seek Varnum crosswalk change

The Town of Arlington next week will request a second curb extension for the Mass. Ave. crosswalk where an East Arlington man died last month.

This curb cut would be modified ubto a bump out if MassDOT grants the request the Town  Manager plans to make on Monday.

This curb cut would be modified into a bump out if MassDOT grants the change order the Town Manager plans to request  on Monday.

Varnum St. is the only unsignalized crosswalk in the Mass. Ave project that is not designed to have bump-outs at both ends under current plans.

The change, which was requested by a neighborhood group, would add a bump-out at the curb cut laid last Friday in front of the Trinity baptists Church. The state Department of Transportation will rule on the request.

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine, in an email earlier today, said he would put the request in writing on Monday. “MassDOT is willing to entertain it as a change order,” he said.

Curb bump outs, in which the curb is extended at a crossing, provide the following safety benefits to pedestrians:

  • improving the visibility of pedestrians as they prepare to cross the road,
  • providing another visual signal to drivers that a pedestrian crossing is present,
  • excluding cars and trucks from parking in crosswalks,
  • in some situations, bump outs have a traffic-calming effect that induces drivers to slow down.

The request will come just days after J.H. Lynch, the lead contractor for the Mass. Ave rebuild, set new curbstones into concrete at the affected stretch of sidewalk.

Chapdelaine took up the issue with MassDOT informally last week at the urging of the East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition.

Unmodified plans call for only one curb extension at Varnum St. (2010 conceptual drawings.)

Under current plans, Varnum St. is the least-improved unsignalized crosswalk in East Arlington. All of the other crosswalks either have crossing signals or have bump outs on the north and south ends.

The plans also call for two of the unsignalized crosswalks, at Orvis Road and at Marathon St., to have pedestrian islands in mid crossing.

Varnum St. was slated for two bump outs in early plans, but the northern extension was dropped in August of 2010 even as other crossings were improved.

The reason for the 2010 change was never publicly explained, but may have been to accommodate a bus stop that has subsequently been moved.


The current curb cut is in the foreground of this photo of the crosswalk. Varnum St. is at upper right.

3 comments so far

  1. markk02474 on

    Too bad curb extensions show ZERO effectiveness at reducing collisions. Meanwhile the most effective treatment to reduce pedestrian collisions is putting in a high intensity, pedestrian-activated crossing signal as neighboring towns have installed even on two lane roads and East Arlington Concerned Citizens Cpmmittee called for years ago. Sadly, Selectmen did not listen to me when I addressed them during a Selectmen’s meeting.

  2. Jeff Boudreau on

    Mid-block crosswalks are illogical, motorists do not expect them.
    Yes, install the cut-out / extension / cross walk at Varnum, but do it right.
    1. Add a crossing signal.
    2. Do NOT install a mid-block crossing.
    3. Install a second, signalized crossing 20 feet away, at the Windsor Street intersection.

    • Adam Auster on

      Illogical or not (and I am not sure I agree), such crosswalks are unavoidable in East Arlington, unless we are going to dispense with most crosswalks altogether.

      With very few exceptions, the cross streets do not line up. Consequently crosswalks that begin on one corner end in the opposite mid-block.

      The Varnum St. crossing, which begins at the eastern corner with Varnum, (see drawing) is a case in point.

      The crosswalk you suggest from the corner of Windsor would similarly terminate mid-block between Varnum and Milton.

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