Thanksgiving Week Travel Tips from MassDOT

The following announcement was provided by MassDOT:

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is encouraging members of the public to plan ahead for the Thanksgiving holiday travel period by recognizing that traffic volumes and the number of travelers on public transportation will be higher than normal. Drivers and transit customers should use the appropriate resources to make informed decisions on route and timing of travel, and check public transportation service schedules. “Thanksgiving is an incredibly busy time for travel, whether on the roads, in the skies, or on public transit,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “The get-away rush will be starting Tuesday and we encourage everyone to think ahead, have a plan and exercise patience with each other.”

The MassDOT Highway Division is taking several steps to ensure safe and efficient travel on roadways, shutting down scheduled construction activities effective at 5 a.m., Tuesday, November 21. Scheduled construction will resume at 5 a.m., Monday, December 2. “The top priority during the Thanksgiving travel period is safety,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “Before heading out, travelers should evaluate weather conditions so smart decisions can be made about when to leave and return from trips. We want everyone to safely arrive at their destinations to be able to celebrate the holiday with their family and friends.”

MassDOT strongly urges all drivers to minimize distractions by turning off or putting away cellphones, traveling the posted speed limit, driving sober and devoting full attention to what is ahead on the road. MassDOT encourages travelers to make an extra effort to be courteous on the roads and report to law enforcement any reckless driving.

Town, TMA Seeking Grant to Launch Watertown Shuttle

For the past few years, Watertown officials have sought to start a shuttle service to serve Pleasant Street, which has no MTBA bus service. The Watertown Transportation Management Association (TMA) has applied for a grant from the State to start a shuttle. The grant would be from the Mass. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Workforce Transportation Program, said Watertown’s Transportation Planner Laura Wiener. The Town Council sent a letter in support of the TMA’s grant application.

Watertown Seeks Grant to Bring in New Bike Share Option

Watertown could see a shift in bike share options, with the current provider leaving and Town officials seeking help to bring in another well-known brand. Last week, Assistant Town Manager Steve Magoon told the Town Council that the Town will be joining other communities to apply for a grant to bring in bike share docks for Bluebikes, which used to be known as Hubway. “The Lime Bikes option in town is no longer an option,” Magoon said. “We are looking to bring Bluebikes.” Lime Bike has reduced the number of bikes in town, so it no longer provides a reliable option for Watertown residents.

OP-ED: Raising Our Rate of Investment in Transportation

Buses like this one on the 71 bus will get priority heading toward Harvard Square on Mt. Auburn Street in the new Cambridge-Watertown Bus Priority Pilot program. The following piece was provided by State Sen. Will Brownsberger, D – Belmont, who also represents Watertown and parts of Boston:

The MBTA’s Board heard a presentation last week from leaders of Toronto’s regional rail system. What was really stunning was how rapidly Toronto has been investing in all forms of transit improvement and expansion. 

Since 2008, Toronto’s regional leadership has been engaged in a series of transit expansions which will add up to a total investment of approximately $60 billion by 2028. Annual spending has reached a level over $4 billion in some years. Four billion dollars in well-managed transit investments within one year represents staggering progress. In Massachusetts, we have struggled to raise our annual investment to $1 billion per year on transit. In private and public meetings officials ask constantly whether we can move more quickly, but again and again the answer has been that we don’t have the planning and management capacity to do so.

Reconstruction of Belmont Street to be Discussed at Meeting

A meeting will be held to discuss the plans to reconstruct Belmont Street and the sidewalks in the area on Tuesday, Oct. 15 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The meeting will he held at the Buckingham Browne & Nichols Administration Building at 46 Belmont St. (rear of the Sacred Heart Parish, 770 Mt. Auburn St.)

This is the second in a series of meetings to view and discuss conceptual plans for the reconstruction of Belmont Street, and abutting sidewalks, by the City of Cambridge. The sidewalks on the south side, from the area of Watertown’s Brimmer and Francis Streets, to the intersection with Mt. Auburn St., are located in Watertown and will be reconstructed as part of the project. 

Information on the project is available on the Town of Watertown and City of Cambridge websites as follows:

https://www.watertown-ma.gov/Calendar.aspx?EID=21694

https://www.cambridgema.gov/Departments/PublicWorks/CityProjects/2019/belmontstreetreconstructionproject

OP-ED: Improving Rail Service Can Reduce Congestion at Rush Hour

The following piece was provided by State Sen. Will Brownsberger, D – Belmont, who also represents Watertown and parts of Boston:

A closer look at recently-reported traffic numbers offers hope that expansions of rail service can make a real difference in rush hour congestion. I was discouraged by two analyses that came out over the summer. MassDOT’s report, Congestion in the Commonwealth, showed that daily vehicle volume dwarfs daily commuter rail ridership along the major radial commuting paths into the core of the Boston area. Around the same time, preliminary results from the Rail Vision model showed that even major expansions of commuter rail service outside 128 would garner ridership increases apparently too small to make a dent in vehicle volume. For example, the Congestion report shows at page 89 that on I-90 (the Massachusetts Turnpike), there are roughly 150,000 vehicles per day as compared to only 18,000 daily riders on the parallel Worcester line.

Residents Say Traffic, Speed is Rising on Their Street; Officials Say the Problem is Townwide

Residents of Lincoln Street went to the Traffic Commission to try to change the increasing traffic and speeding during rush hour on their street. Officials said the problem goes well beyond their block. Residents of a street off of one of Watertown’s main thoroughfares have seen an increase in traffic during rush hour, and say people are driving at dangerous speeds. They took their case to the Traffic Commission, which said the issue cannot be solved by making changes on one street and would push the problem to another road. Lincoln Street comes off Mt.

Town Rebidding 2019 Road Projects, Announces Roads Being Repaired in 2020

A road being repaired in Watertown. A higher than expected bid delayed the road repairs in Watertown in 2019, but they Town will seek to do both those roads and another eight in 2020. Tuesday night, the Town Council approved funding for construction of the 2019 projects, and also heard the recommended roads to be reconstructed in 2020. When the Town went to bid on the 2019 roads repair projects in May, only one firm bid on the work and it came in $693,000 (33.1 percent) over the $2.5 million budget, said Department of Public Works Superintendent Gerry Mee. This time, the bids will go out in December, ahead of other municipal road projects, and the work will be split up.