Ribbon-cutting celebrates Mass. Ave. Project, though work remains

Ribbon cutting

State and local officials cut a ceremonial ribbon next to Mass. Ave, at Grafton St. Left to right: Kimberly Sloane and Peter Sutton of MassDOT, East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition Co-Coordinator Phil Goff, MassDOT Highway District 4 Director Paul Stedman, State Representative David Rodgers, Arlington Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine, Arlington Selectmen Chair Kevin Greeley, State Senator Ken Donnelly, and Commmunity Liaison Nathanial Cabral-Curtis of Howard-Stein-Hudson Associates. Selectmen Dan Dunn and Joe Curro look on from the back.

Some 75 Arlington residents and state officials gathered at the foot of Grafton Street on Saturday morning to mark the approaching completion of the Mass. Ave. project.

Although the project’s punch list will not be completed until next spring and the traffic signals are still not fully functional, the road has been essentially complete for the past 2 weeks.

State Senator Ken Donnelly, who played a key role in rallying support for the project, called the new road “a vast improvement over what we had.”

State Senator Ken Donnelly

State Senator Ken Donnelly at Saturday’s ceremony, with Phil Goff and “Massachusetts Ave.” in the background.

Paul Stedman, the director of Mass Highway District 4, praised the new design as “a good example of the complete-streets approach” to transit planning, in which design accommodates pedestrians, cyclists, and mass-transit users along with motor vehicles.

“Complete streets” is a term of art that had not yet risen to the status of ubiquitous buzzword when planning for Mass. Ave. began in 2008.

In the only somber note, Phil Goff, an original member of the Mass. Ave. Review Committee, named the four people who have died crossing Mass. Ave. since 1996: Margaret MacDonald (Wyman Street, 1996), Florence Crotin (Lafayette Street, 1996), Lucy Delgado (Grafton Street, 2013), and Bill Dotson (Varnum Street, 2015).

Their memory is “embedded in the concrete and asphalt of the new Mass. Ave.,” Goff said.

Update: His full remarks are worth reading.

Speakers thanked those who had played a role in the effort to improve Mass. Ave., including former Selectman Clarissa Rowe, who was present, and Senator Ed Markey and former Selectman Jack Hurd, who were not.

Markey secured federal funding for the project when he was a congressman. Hurd championed the redesign in 2008 and chaired the design committee.

Selectman Chair Kevin Greeley, whose support of the Mass. Ave. Project earned him political attacks, went so far as to thank opponents of the project, “for making us think” and making the project “even better.”

Some of the crowd at the ribbon-cutting celebration for Mass. Ave. at Grafton St. on November 21.

Some of the crowd at the ribbon-cutting celebration for Mass. Ave. at Grafton St. on November 21.

Unfinished Mass. Ave. work includes some sidewalk segments where Eversource has yet to remove old telephone poles, signal work, and installing the stamped pavement in the traversable median area in the business district (currently indicated by paint).

Consequently it is still relevant to say: Click here for recent construction news.

Update: Caption revised to identify Kimberly Sloane and peter Sutton at left of photo.

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