Archive for the ‘25% plans’ Tag

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.

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What a difference a year makes

A year ago tonight, hundreds of Arlington residents gathered for what seemed like the umpteenth hearing on the Mass. Ave. Project.

HearingCrowd

The view from the back of the hall at the February 26 hearing (2013).

A year later, the sturm und drang have receded. The Commonwealth is quietly checking the credentials of constructions firms who have bid to break ground on the project this spring.

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Why four lanes don’t fit

Arlington Town Hall on Tuesday night. Not quite to capacity, but very full.

April 2011 hearing, nearly a full house

I’ve been mining the transcript of the 25% design hearing that MassDOT held at Town Hall in April 2011, looking for things we ought to remember as we head into yet another such hearing this February 26.

One exchange addresses the question of, in effect, why can’t we have four lanes? Here Richard Azzalina, the Town’s lead consulting engineer, begins with a very provocative statement (Transcript 72.3–75.11):

First of all, I just want to be clear, Mass. Ave. is not designated or is not striped as a four-lane facility. Okay? It’s a very wide one lane.

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For the record: Strong community suport for redesign

Town Hall, June 22 2010: Seventh design meeting

Santyana said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Is that why we have been invited to return to Town Hall on February 26 for another hearing on Mass. Ave.?

In any case, gentle reader, I have been spending time with the transcript of the 25%-design hearing held April 12 2011, and if you’d like to revisit that halcyon day, you can!

I hereby link to the transcript (191 pages including 6-page speaker index) and attachments (46 pages including 26 sign-in sheets), which I have obtained and parked online for your reading pleasure.

If that’s a bit more than you need right now, here is a quantitative summary and a few observations about process.

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From the horse’s mouth

There’s a scene in Anne Hall where Woody Allen, standing on line for a movie with Diane Keeton, is annoyed by a man holding forth on the meaning of a book by Marshall McLuhan.


The ensuing argument is only settled when McLuhan himself appears and tells the man, “You know nothing of my work…. How you got to teach a class in anything is totally amazing!”

Such authoritative rejoinders are rare, but there were several slow-motion examples captured in the transcript of the 25% design hearing held at Town Hall in April of 2011.

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Some safety features have been restored to Mass. Ave. design

Extensive changes to the design of Mass. Ave. near Milton and Marathon Streets, instigated to preserve two parking spaces in front of the Arlington Diner, have been reversed in the final plans that the Town hopes to file with Mass. Highway soon.

Another set of changes that widens the pedestrian crossing at Wyman St. and removes right-turn lanes in the stretch between Pond Lane and Linwood St. remains in the design.

These decisions were made last summer but not publicized.

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Town Meeting rebuffs Mass. Ave. foes again

Town Meeting last night rejected two resolutions to stop the Mass. Ave. Project that would not actually have stopped the Mass. Ave. Project.

Mass. Ave. opponents rise to vote against sidewalk construction at Town Meeting in 2011.

The first resolution (Article 69) sought to repeal last year’s authorization of easements to rebuild sidewalks in East Arlington.

The second (Article 70) would have asked the Selectmen to put a nonbinding question about the project on the ballot in April of 2013, after construction was already in progress.

Both failed by wide margins.

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Perhaps 80 view and comment on Mass. Ave. plans April 4

No microphones, no testimony, and very little shouting were in evidence at the open house to present the latest plans for Mass. Ave., held at the Hardy School on the night of April 4.

A lively crowd at the open house.

This was not a hearing but an open house, drawings and photos spread on on tables and folks from the town available to answer questions. Participants were encouraged to write comments on little yellow cards but it is unclear how those comments will weigh on the result.

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Small tweaks led to major changes in Mass. Ave. design

The Mass. Ave. design open house at the Hardy School on April 4

Sweeping amendments to the design for Mass. Ave. in East Arlington stemmed from two small technical changes instigated last summer, according to those involved.

The decision to add an unneeded travel lane to Mass. Ave. eastbound between Pond Lane and Linwood Street, and the removal of safety features from the Wyman St. pedestrian crossing there, began as a desire for extra queuing capacity for cars waiting at the Linwood signal.

Similarly, the consolidation of two pedestrian crossings in East Arlington into a single crossing with no pedestrian island is solely a consequence of a decision to honor a request by the owner of the Arlington Restaurant to move the proposed bus-stop location, freeing up two parking spaces in front of the diner.

These two minor changes had major consequences when the consulting engineers and the town’s Transportation Advisory Committee began to fit them into the existing design framework and philosophy.

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Town drops more safety features and a crosswalk on Mass. Ave.

The latest design for Mass. Ave. in East Arlington replaces two crosswalks with one and removes a pedestrian crossing island and other safety features that had been part of the plan.

Before vs. After

As proposed April 2011: Two crosswalks, both with safety features. The Milton St. crossing (at right) would have been new.

As revealed March 30: One crossing at Melrose with minimal safety features

The changes, depicted in drawings released on Friday, replace crossings at Marathon and Milton Streets with a single crosswalk at Melrose St.

Changes that similarly remove safety features from the Wyman St. crosswalk were made public earlier in March. The Town filed the changes with Mass. Highway in February.

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Mass. Ave. loses safety features in abrupt design change

Both the pedestrian island (dark grey) and the flush median (crosshatched) are no longer in the plan for the Wyman St. crossing.

Arlington has changed its design for the western segment of the Mass. Ave. project, stripping the pedestrian crossing at Wyman St. of many safety features.

These include a pedestrian island that had been added in response to community concerns.

These changes allow for a second lane of inbound traffic that the Town’s consulting engineers had previously determined was not necessary.

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Plan “in accordance with” requirements, Mass Highway finds

The Mass. Ave. plan meets state guidelines, according to a letter from Mass. Highway to those who commented to the agency about the plan.

This low-key endorsement of the Town’s 25%-plan submission means the general features of the design are approved. The Selectmen voted to proceed with 75% plans, the next stage, last Monday.

The 25% and 75% designations are two of the three formal design phases.

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