Mass. Ave. punch list grows short

checklistSpring is in the air, and the construction contractor for Mass. Ave. is finishing up and preparing to leave us to our own devices.

The punch list for this project, so many years in the making, includes traffic signals, sidewalks, and the planned median area in the business district. There are other smaller bit of work to take care of as well.

The traffic signals have, apparently, finally got signal cameras installed and activated. I believe I saw them in action on Tuesday.

The traffic light at Lake St. has always given an advanced left turn from Mass. Ave onto Lake, allowing three or sometimes four alert drivers to make that turn before an eastbound green cuts off the stream.

On Tuesday, the delay was long enough to let something like six cars through (I did not have the presence of mind to count). In fact, exactly all the cars in the left-turn cue, at which point the eastbound green came on promptly.

It was almost as though the signal knew they were there.

Which is how the signal cams are supposed to work. These are not cameras that take your picture if you run a red light, but sensors to note traffic flow and the presence of waiting cars. Their purpose is to make timing adjustments appropriately.

Signal cams are supposed to be an improvement on the old loop detectors that were triggered by cars and, sometimes, bikes.

We’ll see how that works out. In the mean time the signals are apparently going though a bit of tinkering and adjustment.

Poles in transition—like forever. (In front of Trinity Baptist Church on March 3)

Poles in transition—like forever. (In front of Trinity Baptist Church on March 3)

This work could have been performed last fall if not for the slow-footedness of Eversource, the electric utility, who did not perform related electrical work until November.

Utilities have also massively delayed the completion of the sidewalks, as local businesses and others wait for the utilities (motto: We don’t care. We don’t have to) to remove old telephone poles so that the remainder of the sidewalk can be poured.

There wouldn’t even be a remainder had this work been completed last spring. However, I think they are finally moving.


The unfinished sidewalk segments around the poles are temporarily filled with asphalt. But this morning crews were at work on the poles. Once that is done, the contractor will dig up the temporary asphalt and pour the last of the sidewalks.

Stretching from the new pedestrian island at Marathon Street to the same at Grafton, plans call for the median area to be textured but still basically flat. The texturing will give the business district a different look but won’t prevent anyone from crossing the median.

Other work includes some new markings for bike lanes. Also, once the sidewalks are done, Lynch will replace the bike racks and remove the wooden protection from around the remaining mature trees.

Not actually part of the project, but delayed by it: Mass. Ave. is due to get some benches at bus stops courtesy of the MBTA, and three bus shelters.

These are 2 inbound at Thorndike Street and the apartments west of Orvis Road, and 1 outbound across from the Capitol Theater. The T installed similar amenities elsewhere on Mass. Ave. in 2014.

Click here for recent construction news. (What there is left of it.)

2 comments so far

  1. Donna Janis on

    Last fall I noticed the complete lack of speed limit signs on Mass Ave in East Arlington and brought this to the attention of Nathaniel Cabral Curtis and our town manager by email. Nathaniel responded that signage was being addressed. It’s next spring and all signage seems to be in place except speed limit signs.

    Similar to the corridor’s raised planters that are not ADA compliant and which present obstacles to passengers exiting cars, I parked on Mass. Ave. by Fairmont Street today and couldn’t open my passenger door all the way due to a ‘2 hour parking limit’ sign pole installed too close to the curb. Hopefully these errors of judgment won’t be repeated in the Center.

    Do I understand you correctly that 2 bus shelters will be installed on the same side of Mass. Ave. by Thorndike Street? Why does any bus stop need two? Maybe I’m misunderstanding but, if not, does the glass company located there know this? The owner already had to move his dumpster to the other side of his building due to new traffic signal poles and a town trash barrel bolted in the middle of the sidewalk where the trash truck used to have clearance to back in.

    • Adam Auster on

      Hello Donna! Do those planters really violate some provision of the American Disabilities Act? Which one?

      I don’t care for them very much either, by the way.

      As for Thorndike Street: Only one bus shelter there (the other inbound shelter is west of Orvis Rd.), but that should be enough, don’t you think? Disclosure: I lobbied the Town for a full-blown shelter there, and I’ll be quite pleased to see it.

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