Mass. Ave. old and new

Phil Goff, a professional transit planner who served on the design committee for the Mass. Ave. Project, gave the following remarks about the new Mass. Ave. versus the old at Saturday’s ribbon-cutting.

The ceremony was held at the foot of Grafton Street, site of one of East Arlington’s most improved pedestrian crosswalks. Click any photo for a larger view.

BEFORE: The crosswalk at Grafton St., where Lucy delGado was fatally struck in 2013.

BEFORE: The crosswalk at Grafton St., where Lucy Delgado was fatally struck in 2013. The crossing had long been troublesome.

Today the crosswalk features curb extensions, a safety island, and a lane reduction. View SW towards Orvis Rd; both photos by permission of Phil Goff.

AFTER: Today the crosswalk features curb extensions, a safety island, and a lane reduction. View SW towards Orvis Rd; both photos by Phil Goff.

As you look around, take in the new Mass Ave.

For the past 50 years, cars dominated the old Mass Ave but no more. For the past 50 years, walking across the old Mass Ave was like playing Russian Roulette but no more. For the past 50 years, bicyclists have had no space to ride on the old Mass Ave but no more.

From this date forward, pedestrians, bus riders, motorists and bicyclists are now roughly on equal terms. From this date forward, cars and trucks will drive more slowly and predictably. From this date forward, more East Arlington neighbors will shop, eat, drink and watch movies in Capitol Square.

Phil Goff was one of several speakers at Saturday's ribbon cutting for the Mass. Ave. Project. Selectman Kevin Greeley watches at right.

Phil Goff was one of several speakers at Saturday’s ribbon cutting for the Mass. Ave. Project. Selectman Kevin Greeley watches from lower right.

For those who have patiently waited for this day, East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition joins you to express our gratitude to some of the key people that have made the project happen:

Some of us went to our first meeting over 7 years ago and we’ve waited 2500 days for a safer street. Others have waited even longer, as this process began with the initial pedestrian fatalities nearly 20 years ago.

As we gather to celebrate this project, let us not forget those who have been injured or lost their lives trying to simply walk across the old Mass Ave: Margaret MacDonald age 77, Florence Crotin age 84, Lucy Ortez-Delgado age 77, and Bill Dotson age 91. The memories of these people are now embedded in the concrete and asphalt of the new Mass Ave.

  • To U.S. Senator Ed Markey for committing the federal funds that paid for the lion’s share of the project
  • To State Senator Ken Donnelly for his tenacious energy fighting the 2014 ballot referendum and ensuring the state’s project schedule was on track
  • To the Board of Selectmen — both current and former members — for providing the critical votes to move the Plan forward and for enduring the acrimony of project opponents
  • To the Town Manager and his staff at the Planning and Public Works departments for the public-engagement process and coordinating with MassDOT and the general contractors, JH Lynch

But mostly, thanks belongs to the local community of residents and businesses. Your support was critical to ensure the pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly design elements remained in the Plan from start to finish.

I hope all of those who have worked together to make this project a reality will continue to fight for more-livable and safer streets in Arlington and throughout Massachusetts.

—Phil Goff

Goff is also one of two co-coordinators of the East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition. I found his remarks especially thoughtful. They are reprinted here with his permission and only minor formatting edits.

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