MassDOT’s Holiday Travel Tips, MBTA Schedules & More

The following piece was provided by MassDOT:

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is advising the public to plan ahead for travel during the upcoming holiday season from Dec. 20, 2018 through Jan. 2, 2019, to drive sober and to take note of holiday schedules for the MBTA, use of the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane on I-93 between Boston and Quincy, and for visiting Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) customer service center locations. AAA is forecasting a record-breaking holiday travel season this year, with 2.45 million Massachusetts residents expected to be on the move. In a public statement, AAA said 2.1 million of these travelers are expected to travel by motor vehicle. The highest volume of traffic in the Boston area, according to AAA, is expected to be Wednesday, Dec.

Survey Collecting Input About New Bus Priority Lanes on Mt. Auburn St.

The new red bus priority lane on Mt. Auburn Street near the Cambridge Line. Photo provided by the Watertown Department of Public Works. The following announcement was provided by the Watertown Department of Public Works:

As of Nov. 15, after several weeks of calibration, City of Cambridge staff and the Mount Auburn Street Bus Priority project partners consider the implementation of the Mt Auburn Street Bus Priority Pilot to be complete.

Advocates Celebrate Groundbreaking for Path Linking Watertown to Fresh Pond

The contingent from Watertown scoops a ceremonial shovel full of dirt at the groundbreaking for the Cambridge-Watertown Greenway Phase 2. Pictured, from left, longtime advocates Janet Jameson and Deborah Peterson, Assistant Town Manager Steve Magoon, State Rep. Jonathan Hecht, Town Councilor Lisa Feltner, Senior Planner Gideon Schreiber, and Senior Transportation Planner Laura Wiener. Photo by Charlie Breitrose

People from Watertown and Cambridge gathered near Fresh Pond on a chilly morning to celebrate the beginning of construction of a path many years in the making that completes an important link between the Charles River to other path networks. Wednesday’s groundbreaking for the Cambridge-Watertown Greenway Phase 2 came 35 years after a pair of Watertown residents began advocating for the path that can be used by bicyclists, walkers and runners to get from East Watertown to Fresh Pond and link up to other major bike and pedestrian paths. The project will create a 16 foot wide, landscaped path along the former railroad bed from Fresh Pond to Arlington Street in Watertown.

OP-ED: Changes to Traffic Signal Timing Will Make Mt. Auburn St. Bus Lanes Work Better

The following piece was provided by State Sen. Will Brownsberger (D – Belmont) who represents Watertown:

Thousands of commuters on Mount Auburn Street and on Fresh Pond Parkway had a very rough ten days starting on Monday, November 5. That is the day that a contractor swapped in a new controller for the traffic signals and failed to properly program it. The new Siemens 60 signal controller is so sophisticated that only a few engineers have the expertise to properly program it. Commuters endured ten days of bad timing until the right specialist was able to get it working as intended. As of Thursday, Nov.

Town Council Approves Design Concepts for Mt. Auburn St. Reconstruction

After many meetings looking at the proposals to reconstruct Mt. Auburn Street, including the controversial road diet, the Town Council voted to approve the preliminary designs Tuesday. The project now moves to the state transportation officials for their input, but there are still many steps before it becomes a reality. 

The Town Council’s Public Works subcommittee recently held two meetings to take a closer look at the plans for the major corridor through town, particularly focusing on Coolidge Square and the business district near the intersection with Common  Street. Residents and business owners had a lot of concerns, ranging from reducing the lanes from two to one each way, loss of parking and loading areas for businesses, and bicycle and pedestrian safety. On Tuesday, Councilors weighed whether to approve the plans recommended by the Public Works Committee, and send them to the state’s Department of Transportation (MassDOT) for the 25 percent design review.

LETTER: Councilor Concerned About Impact of Mt. Auburn St. Project on Coolidge Square

(The following is an open letter sent by Town Councilor Angeline Kounelis to the team designing the Mt. Auburn Street Renovation)

Dear Mt. Auburn St. Team, et al,

Many thanks for your response that has been 3.5 months in the making. I echo the sentiments of local residents, who at my suggestion, have written to the Team, only to receive a response focused solely on the scripted design plan. 

Please do not insult me in a condescending manner by stating: “we would encourage you to view this video about implementing Road Diets in New Jersey.”

LETTER: Town Councilor Shares Questions, Concerns on Mt. Auburn St. Received from Residents

The following is an open letter from Town Councilor Lisa Feltner to Town officials:

Of the three Mount Auburn Street redesign concepts presented on October 16, 2018 (focus primarily between Patten and Walnut streets), many constituents in District B would like me to reiterate that concept #3 “adds four legal parking spots” to Mount Auburn. Please accept my attempt to summarize many concerns shared with me around this meeting and the concepts presented to date. Other alternatives and questions to consider, including a fourth and fifth concept follow below: (see plans below, or go to the document page of the project website here.)

Alt concept 4: Modify concept #1 to retain the sheltered Historic District Franklin St. bus, and Russell Ave. bus stops, thereby not reducing MBTA access.

Changes to Coolidge Square Get Recommendation of Council Subcommittee

A Town Council subcommittee recommended some significant changes to Mt. Auburn Street, including a redesign of one of the main intersections in Coolidge Square. 

Tuesday night, the Public Works Committee discussed the proposed changes to Mt. Auburn Street, east of School Street. The most significant change is the realignment of the intersection of Bigelow Avenue with Mt. Auburn Street, which also turns Kimball Road into a one-way street away from Mt.