The Massachusetts Department of Transportation included a couple of projects in Watertown in its draft 2018-22 Capital Improvement Plan, which the Town Council supported in a letter to state officials. They also asked for a few more.
During the report about the Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Transportation during the March 14 Town Council meeting, Councilor Aaron Dushku said the MassDOT plan includes improvements to the Watertown Square Transportation hub and creating a multi-use path through the center of Watertown. He noted that these projects made the proposed funded list, but were not actually requested by the Town or local legislators.
The Watertown Square improvements include redesigning the Watertown Delta and improving signage on Galen Street.
“While it was unclear how this project (Project ID 1972) got on the list, it was agreed by most in attendance that the combination of new developments on Arsenal and Pleasant Streets plus the cut-through traffic from I-90 all warranted more investment in this bottleneck area and our letter should mention it,” Dushku said.
Creating a community path through Watertown Square has been a goal of Town officials, but again they did not ask the state for it, Dushku said. The subcommittee recommended supporting both projects in a letter to MassDOT.
A project that was included in the state’s list, but which was on the “unfunded” list is construction of Phase II of the Watertown Greenway path form Arlington Street to the Fresh Pond Reservation in Cambridge.
State Rep. Jonathan Hecht told the subcommittee that although it did not get funding he believes it has the qualities the state looks for when funding a project, noting that among other things it is at the 75 percent design level.
In general, he said, they look for projects that:
- are eligible for federal Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) funding
- have engineering design that is 75% complete
- have strong community support
- have support by private money (i.e. a public/private venture)
- have municipal funding
- have a high likelihood of stimulating economic development
The Rehabilitation of Mount Auburn Street also made the list of ‘unfunded’ projects, but Dushku noted that the engineering design was only 25% complete so it might be better to advocate for this project next year.
Some items that did not make either the funded or unfunded list, but which the Council believes is a priority are:
- Support for the purchase of more buses to serve Watertown routes
- Support for the implementation of the recommendations of the Arsenal Street Corridor Study
- Support for the implementation of recommendations of the Mt. Auburn Street/Fresh Pond Parkway Improvement Study
These requests were included in the letter to state officials, along with the projects that made the MassDOT’s list. The Council voted unanimously to support sending the letter with the request to state officials.