Archive for the ‘traffic’ Tag

$750,000 sought for Lake Street signal


The Town’s Capital Planning Committee will ask Town Meeting to appropriate $750,000 for a traffic signal at the intersection of Lake Street and the Minuteman Path.

The Town sought and failed to win state funding of $400,000 for this project in fiscal 2018 and again in fiscal 2019.

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Arlington bus pilot featured

Arlington’s bus priority pilot program was featured with other Boston-area programs in a short video released last week by Streetfilms.

Boston Area Bus Pilots Move Region Closer to BRT from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

The upbeat film, and the bus programs featured, are discussed further at Streetsblog.

Town to decide bus-lane fate


Back of MBTA 79 bus as it moves past stalled trafficalong the temporary bus lane demarcated with orange and white traffic cones.

Two of the three segments of the Town’s bus-priority experiment, at Lake Street and at Route 16, are continuing past the end of the pilot program last Friday, November 9.

That’s according to a November 12 announcement on the Town’s website.

The third element is the bus lane. The Town made no statements about the future of the dedicated lane, noting only that the lane, and its related parking ban, are no longer in effect.

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The $700,000 Traffic Light

Seven Hundred Thousand Dollars

Last October 18, one day after the public hearing where residents were prevented from asking about the cost of the Lake Street signal project, Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine shared the current estimate with’s Bob Sprague.

The project, which would place a traffic signal where the Minuteman path crosses lake Street, would cost around $700,000, many times its original cost estimate of $150,000.

That’s a lot for a single traffic light, even accounting for the tie-in with the nearby signal at Brooks Ave. and landscaping on the path.

So in this post, I’d like to explore some issues around the sometimes-forbidden topics of cost and financing for this project, as best as I understand them.
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Hidden winners and losers in the Lake Street signal plan

Some who live on or near the rush-hour-congested Lake St. corridor look to the proposed signal at the Minuteman Path for some traffic relief.

Unfortunately, the opposite result seems likely: heavier traffic, and more cut-throughs.

Cyclists stopped at red 

Welcome to the topsy-turvy, counter-intuitive world of traffic engineering. Perhaps orbital mechanics, where astronauts speed up in order to slow down, is as confounding to common sense.

Below is my list of likely winners and losers under this plan, which has its last public hearing next Tuesday.
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Oct 17 Is last call on Lake Street stoplight design

A plan for a traffic signal that would halt bicyclists and pedestrians where the Minuteman Path crosses Lake St. will have its second and final public hearing on Tuesday, October 17, at 7 PM at Town Hall.

The Minuteman and Lake St. in a less-congested hour. View is towards Spy Pond. Photo: Phil Goff.

The design features a traffic signal with a 70-second cycle, 14 of which would provide a green light for pedestrians and cyclists on the path during peak periods. In addition, the design would make changes to the path itself.
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New center design, scofflaw drivers may put cyclists at risk

A video showing motorists making illegal turns into bicycle and pedestrian traffic seems to corroborate fears that the design of a new bike lane in Arlington Center is flawed.

The illegal turns are shown in a bike-cam’s-eye view of the ride across Arlington Center outbound, using new bike facilities including a new signal at Swan Place. It was recorded and posted on YouTube by Brian Ristuccia.

Nobody was hurt, but someone could have been.

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Sign of the Times

Source: MassDOT

Before the new default speed limit of 25 miles per hour goes into effect on May 1, the Town will post 16 of these signs at entry points to Arlington.

The new limit, authorized by Town Meeting last fall under a new state law, will apply to most, but not all, of the streets in town. It was adopted by the Board of Selectmen on February 27.

More information in this report, which I wrote last month.

The design of the sign, and the wording “Thickly Settled Speed Limit 25 Townwide Unless Otherwise Posted,” is specified by the state Department of Transportation.

The generic 25-mph sign I used to illustrate my report is not what we’ll see.

Arlington slows down

Speed Limit 25

The default speed limit town wide will drop to 25 miles per hour, from 30, on May 1, after a vote by the Board of Selectmen. Will it make a difference?

The new limits will apply generally to roads in town that do not have a posted limit. Route 2 is not affected.

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Added: Visual nudge to merge

A few licks of paint added last July direct drivers to merge as they enter Arlington westbound from Cambridge. Are they effective?

Two arrows and a dotted line point drivers left. The markings were added in late July and were not part of the original pan for the street.

Two arrows and a dotted line point drivers left. The markings were added in late July and were not part of the original pan for the street.

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Driving under the influence

keysA reader recently chided me for including a drunk-driving incident in a list of Mass. Ave. crashes that killed or injured pedestrians.

In 2009, a drunk driver struck a local business owner in the Teel St. crosswalk and sent him to the hospital.

None of the other collisions involved alcohol, at least as far as we know.

But if we are honest we will admit that we are all driving under the influence.

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No easy fixes for Lake Street traffic

Arlington’s Board of Selectmen will consider a plan February 5 to ease rush-hour traffic on congested Lake Street by putting a traffic signal on the Minuteman Commuter Bicycle Path.

The Minuteman and Lake St. in a less-congested hour. View is north. Photo: Phil Goff.

The Minuteman at Lake St. in an uncongested hour. View is north. Photo: Phil Goff.

The Transportation Advisory Committee, which has been studying the problem for more than a year, recommends the project with an estimated cost of $150,000. If approved, the Town would establish a design committee.

At the risk of oversimplifying a very complicated problem, I warn: Be careful what you wish for.

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