LETTER: Town Councilor Opposes Plans for Mt. Auburn Street Renovation

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District A Town Councilor Angeline Kounelis provided the following piece and documents:

Dear Mt. Auburn St. Team, et al,

In recent history, how many times has the intersection of Mt. Auburn St. at Arlington St. been revamped? Changes have been inclusive of, but not limited to: new west bound turn lane for south bound turn to Arlington St.; new traffic signals with control box; advanced timing of signals with overhead sensors and updated pedestrian signals, etc., etc.

Why was Grove Street allowed to become the primary roadway in 1999, with a mere stop sign to regulate north bound traffic on Arlington Street; all knowing that traffic signals were optimal? The installation of the traffic islands at the merging point of Arlington Street at Grove Street further adds to the congestion. Let’s not forget about the impact on the Bigelow Avenue intersection when the east-bound one-way was reversed to west-bound, over thirty years ago on Wells Avenue.

To know the answers is to focus on the infamous traffic studies and engineering reports, that emphatically stated these specific alterations to traffic patterns, and enhancements, would allow for the smooth flow of traffic generated by the recent developments in the area. I respectfully disagree; the community has, and will continue to pay the consequences.

Since 1999, as a private citizen, on behalf of the East Watertown Betterment Assoc., I had advocated for safety improvements in Coolidge Square. My first endeavor was a request (see below) before the Watertown Traffic Commission that the traffic signal in front of the East End Fire Station be altered from a constant green, to a flashing, warning yellow. One positive aspect of the proposed Mount Auburn Street Project (Project) could be the possible addition of “rapid flashing beacons” in the same vicinity.

Starting in 2011, the MBTA initiated community conversations to discuss the #71 & #73 Trackless Trolley Routes, as part of their Key Bus Routes Program. Countless hours were spent receiving feedback from riders and residents about bus stop consolidations and street furniture amenities that were slowly implemented. I raise this issue because as part of the Project, there are conceptual plans to possibly relocate bus stops. After all the time, good faith efforts and expense: why?

Mt. Auburn Street Project Inches Forward, Concern About Parking for Businesses

At the Nov. 20, 2017 Town Council Public Works Committee Meeting, I inquired about the status of parking spaces in Coolidge Square; to no avail. The plus and minus numbers of generalized parking spaces, noted within the 25 Percent documents do not offer specific locations, as previously submitted and outlined in the 20 Percent documents. There is a need to know how many parking spaces exist and where; where parking spaces will be lost and where gained; very simple.

From the onset, I have expressed my reservations about reducing segments of Mount Auburn Street to one lane in each direction; with the addition of turning lanes in designated areas. In my opinion, the Road Diet theory, has been overused in multiple aspects that will not create a viable vision for Watertown’s future within its parameters and dynamics.

Please don’t get me wrong. There are many fine improvements associated with the concept Project that are needed in the Mount Auburn Street Corridor. Studies and reports are working tools to embrace for discussion; with opt-out capabilities. Watertown has seen the negative results of traffic studies and engineering reports, far to often.

Although the Concept Project is still a work in progress; after the vote of the Town Council on July 10, 2018 for the 25 Percent design plans, the General Concept Design is finite. After long and careful consideration, at this time, I cannot support the Mount Auburn Street Project in its entirety as submitted. Thank you.

Best regards,

Angie

Angeline B. Kounelis
District A, East End, Town Councilor

Kounelis Mt. Auburn St. Docs by Charlie Breitrose on Scribd

5 thoughts on “LETTER: Town Councilor Opposes Plans for Mt. Auburn Street Renovation

  1. I would have to agree with Angie that the 25% concept plan approved on July 10th does not provide sufficient information to move forward. If they cannot determine where the parking spots are that will be eliminated or where replacement spots will be located then it should not have been approved by the town council.
    I would also suggest that if this project wants a much higher level of support then the team must adhere to the principal of Do No Harm to the current residents.

  2. Totally agree with you on the issue’s of Mt Auburn St.This town is now catering to the bicycle path’s & dog parks instead of the people of this town who are life long citizen of our Watertown that have given much to our community. What will happen to these mom & pop stores, post office, hardware store etc that do not drive.

  3. I 100% agree with you Angie and commend you on your fervent POV. As a resident who lives on Mt Auburn St and a past business owner in Coolidge Sq I see nothing but problems with the proposed road diet. There has been much advocacy to accommodate for the many travelers on this corridor (autos, bikes, buses, pedestrian, emergency vehicles etc.) but not much concern for the residents who live, operate and pay taxes to call this road their home or livelihood. With the ever increasing population in this town it dumbfounds me that a reduction in one of the most travelled arteries will provide positive results. From all of the meetings I have been to it seems as the unconscious message here is that the town and the planners don’t want all these cars on the road to begin with – the road diet is a silent deterrent. If that’s one of the objectives then stop the massive building in the town. I am all for improving the throughway to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians but not at the expense of the hard working people trying to make a living or at the expense of the residents who will be inevitably inconvenienced trying to get home. Fix the road, improve public transportation (that should be #1) and use the existing footprint to enhance the experience for business owners and residents. If you do that the others will follow. I commend you Councilor Kounelis for standing up for the residents of Watertown and the Mt Auburn St corridor!

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