Archive for the ‘traffic’ Tag

Traffic stand still

All is calm and bright on Mass. Ave. during a snowstorm on January 27. Photo: Phil Goff of the East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition.

All is calm and bright on Mass. Ave. during a snowstorm on January 27. Photo: Phil Goff of the East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition.

Mass. Ave. and the dubious pleasures of the “stroad”

Writing at YourArlington.com today, Doug Davidoff of East Arlington speculates that Mass. Ave. is a stroad, an awkward street-road hybrid that fulfills none of its purposes well:

Where a futon is a piece of furniture that serves both as an uncomfortable couch and an uncomfortable bed, a stroad moves cars at speeds too slow to get around efficiently but too fast to support productive private sector investment Continue reading

MassDOT to hear latest plan for Center transit

A revised facelift for Arlington Center that would shift 7 parking slots from Mass. Ave. to Swan Place will be the subject of a design hearing in Arlington by the state’s Department of Transportation on November 6.

The new parking will also require approval from the Arlington Redevelopment Board, according to the Town Manager.

This design was make public at Town Day. Click for a close up. Note new parking at lower right.

This design was make public at Town Day. Click for a close up. Note new parking at lower right. Source: Town of Arlington.

The design would create bike lanes to help cyclists navigate the Town’s central intersection at Mass. Ave. and Route 60, add a new signalized pedestrian crossing on Mass. Ave. by Swan Place, and lengthen the southbound left-turn lane from Medford Street.

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Many stories in fire hose of Mass. Ave. public record

Here’s what one Grafton Street resident told the Massachusetts Department of Transportation about crossing Mass Ave.:

student_crosswalk_sign_2I would like to tell you a true story of crossing that street with my son when he was nine, and two other boys as I was taking them to the Hardy School in the morning.

I am an extremely safety conscious person and yet, at the other end, as we were approaching Sabatino’s, it just so happened that one of the three boys who was with me was hit by a car.
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23 seconds

StopwatchTrips along the Town’s 3-lane design for Mass. Ave. in East Arlington will take about as long as on a 4-lane alternative, according to a controversial new software model.

The Town’s consultants performed the analysis even though the Mass. DOT has found 4 lanes to be unsafe and unacceptable.

Safety aside, both designs perform similarly in terms of average trip times. That is what you would expect based on the traffic data, which show that the 3-lane design meets peak traffic as well as a 4-lane design.

Bu that’s not what you might have thought from reading the January 23 letter from the Federal Highway Administration to MassDOT.

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Clash of bureaucracies led to Mass. Ave. delay

Last month a long-simmering dispute between the Federal Highway Administration and MassDOT over the redesign of Mass. Ave. became public. On Valentines Day MassDOT’s response hinted at a dense back-and forth over traffic merges, trip times, and public participation.

One consequence is that MassDOT bowed to a federal request for another public hearing on the design (7 pm Tuesday February 26 at Town Hall).

Another is that MassDOT has delayed the project by 3 months, with advertising for the project now scheduled for June 1.

But what of the issues that the FHA raised on its January 23 letter to MassDOT? Those would be traffic merges, trip times, and public participation.

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Snow and Mass. Ave. geometry

I’m writing this on February 9 after a day of digging out from a pretty big storm. My little street did not even get cleared until about 4 pm, at which point the town had to use an earth mover, not a plow.

2011: Residues of the scraped-away ice show how much the road had been constricted. West on Mass. Ave. from Henderson St.

But, remember the snows of 2011? We had a lot of them, and there was some melting and refreezing.

By the time it became clear that the strategy of just shoving snow to the sides of the streets was not going to do it this time, the stuff was too dense and frozen to plow.

Some side streets were really choked, and Mass. Ave. itself was down to one lane in each direction. This really slowed things down inbound (outbound was fine).

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Mass DOT takes comments

Advocates for and against the rebuilding of Mass. Ave. in East Arlington went into overdrive, and comments from the public went into overtime, at a sometimes-raucous project hearing at Town Hall on April 12.

Some 400 people came to the Department of Transportation hearing on the Town’s proposed design. 79 gave comments, and many more were turned away when the hearing adjourned at 10:40.

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

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My slightly cynical crystal ball

Concentrate and ask again

Though I am hardly shy with my opinions, the focus here has been reporting on news of the Mass. Ave. projects and what others are saying and doing.

I depart from that for this post to make some outright predictions.

First, I think the state will approve the project, which will be built very much along the lines of the plan submitted. (My magic 8-ball is still cloudy about when.)

Second, Mass Ave. will neither become a paradise nor a parking lot. With a few important exceptions, the effect of the new design on traffic and safety will be small — for good and for ill. Here’s why.

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Facts on the ground

Here’s Mass. Ave. at rush hour.

Zero seconds (8:08:47)

It’s a little after 8 a.m. on Thursday, December 2. The temperature is about 35°. I’m standing at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Henderson Street, looking more or less west.

Long shadows mark the bright clear morning. And there’s no traffic.

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The face of a new Mass. Ave.

Never mind the sausage factory of process and meetings and interim drafts.

If Mass. Highway approves the 25-percent plans as submitted, what will we get? What will be different?

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Cut-through traffic and other paradoxes

So far, concerns about cut-through traffic and Mass. Ave. have focused on fears that changes in the design of the street, and especially the new traffic signal at Bates Road, will cause outbound drivers to detour through side streets.

I took a look at this last year. Ultimately, it is not credible that drivers would take a time-consuming detour that includes two left turns on Broadway in order to avoid a 40-second delay (max) at a stoplight.

However, this whole discussion has ignored the other cut-through traffic, namely drivers who use side streets to get to Mass. Ave., for instance on the way to Lake Street and Route 2.

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