DCR Closing Little Greenough to Traffic Through End of November

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A stretch of roadway along the Charles River, known as Little Greenough, has been closed to traffic by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the closure will run through late November.

The DCR closed the area last year during the Pandemic to make the stretch of Greenough Boulevard from Arsenal Street to North Beacon Street available for recreational uses, such as walking, biking, and rollerblading. Once again in 2021, the roadway was closed beginning April 10, according to the DCR’s notice.

Cones block off the mouth of the roadway on either end and orange barrels have been placed on on North Beacon Street westbound to stop vehicles from using the right-turn-only lane.

The Town Council had endorsed a request made by the Watertown Bicycle & Pedestrian Committee to close the roadway again in 2021. The letter from the Council asked for the DCR to do a pilot program to close Little Greenough on weekends, said Steve Magaoon, Watertown’s Assistant Town Manager and Director of Community Development and Planning.

“We sent them the request from the Council to do some analysis and maybe consider an experimental weekend closure,” Magoon said. “They obviously decided to do something a little beyond that.”

A screenshot of a Google Map showing the section of Greenough Boulevard closed by the DCR for recreation use. It stretches from North Beacon Street to Arsenal Street.

In a statement from a DCR spokesperson, the agency wrote the following about the closure:

“In an effort to expand pedestrian and cyclist use during the COVID-19 pandemic for people to safely get outdoors, the agency closed various agency-managed parkways in the Boston Metro Area. One of the parkways was Little Greenough Boulevard. The 2020 closure was utilized by many. Due to this, the agency chose to close the Boulevard once again for pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy. Further details about the closure’s schedule can be found on the DCR webpage.”

Town officials have reached out to the DCR to discuss potential changes and ways to measure how well the program is going, Magoon said.

“We are going to set up a meeting to sit down with them and go over some of the issues,” Magoon said.

The DCR will consider the Town’s requests.

“The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is reviewing the request from the City of Watertown and looks forward to working with the City on their requests,” the DCR spokesperson said in a statement.

Magoon said the responses to the closure of Little Greenough have been mixed.

“I’ve gotten some residents who are concerned about some of the traffic impacts, and had some residents questioning the blocking off of the parking lots at either end and wanted to make them available,” Magoon said. “The bike enthusiasts, they are obviously pleased with it. That was the genesis of it.”

10 thoughts on “DCR Closing Little Greenough to Traffic Through End of November

  1. The bike path on the other side of the river, just feet away, has always been open.

    Streets were built for motor vehicles.

  2. Hmm. We had streets before we had motor vehicles. The inconvenience is well worth it. I walk this stretch every day. It’s great closed to traffic.

  3. I drive by this regularly. It’s not used and it was a dumb idea. The traffic issues it has caused shouldn’t take a back seat to the 5 people that now get to move from the 2(!) paths in that section that are already available to walk on.

      • The lane closer leading up to it on the rotary. An already dicey situation is now less safe. More traffic being pushed down to Louise st and more traffic being pushed up over the bridge towards Brighton. It’s a through st coming from the ever more popular arsenal. It makes zero sense to cut it off for a less than quarter mile stretch that people aren’t using and already have multiple baths in that section.

    • There’s also conflicting information and/or statements coming from the DCR. According to the article a spokesperson stated “One of the parkways was Little Greenough Boulevard. The 2020 closure was utilized by many”, yet at the Watertown Bicycle Pedestrian Committee meeting on 8/3/2020, one of the committee members passed along a discussion between Senator Will Brownsburger and the DCR regarding the
      original closure last Spring and it’s reopening. According to that conversation and why it was reopened… “they felt it wasn’t well used during the closure and they were seeing traffic increasing in the neighborhood”.

      http://vodwcatv.org/CablecastPublicSite/show/428?channel=3
      FF to 00:20:00

      Which of those statements is incorrect and false? That “They felt it wasn’t being well used” or “was utilized by many”?

      If they were seeing an “increase in traffic in the neighborhood” at a time when everything was shutdown, imagine what the increase is like now?

  4. This has to be one of the most unwise, unnecessary and boneheaded decisions by the DCR that I can ever recall and raises a few concerns of mine. My primary concern is that the parking lots at both ends of Little Greenough are no longer available to the public.

    Both lots have a designated handicapped space for the disabled and those with mobility issues. The lots on Greenough were a favorite place to park as they were close and convenient, and not nearly as hectic and crowed as the Artesani lot on Soldiers Field Rd in Brighton. Parking on the Eastbound side of North Beacon while feasible, can be hazardous crossing due to the traffic traveling in both directions at speeds of 30 -35 mph or more.
    Now due to the closure, accessibility to that section of the river way by the handicapped, those with mobility issues, the elderly and healthy individuals is no longer available. I’m curious if there could be any ADA issues involved here?

    My secondary concern pertains to the impact on traffic this closure has had on Arsenal St. and neighboring residential side streets. While the traffic situation on Arsenal St. from Little Greenough to the bridge could be awful at times, it has become much, much worse since the closure.

    Previously there were always a number of vehicles heading East that would take a right turn onto Little Greenough to get to North Beacon St. Now those drivers are being forced to continue going straight to get on Leo Birmingham Pky and Soldiers Field Rd. resulting in traffic backing up as shown here… https://streamable.com/kyvtrz (and this was on a Saturday @ 2:20). Another consequence that resulted from the closure is that traffic on Louise St. (a small residential side street), has noticeably increased and has essentially become a detour for 9 months.

    I’m concerned… we should all be concerned that it’s only going to get much worse once Arsenal Yards completely opens up, and for what? So a small but vocal segment of the public can have their own, secluded recreational area? What makes it even more frustrating is that there’s already an existing bike/jogging path alongside the river and in the 2 months since the closure, I rarely see any cyclists or joggers utilizing the closed off roadway.

  5. As a resident of North Beacon St this closure has negatively impacted us every day. A quick trip to Target or home Depot now takes an extra 20 minutes bc of the backup. Not to mention how infuriating it is to drive all the way around to see that zero pedestrians or cyclists are using little greenough. There is plenty of trails and waking paths already available along the road and, like others said, taking away all the parking on that road means less people can actually enjoy it due to accessibility issues. We live in a place where traffic is insane and you can only cycle for 3 months of the year, yet here we are taking away one of the most convenient cut-through roads so 3 people can bike down a street that’s NEXT to a bike path?? Is the memorial drive closure not enough? Or all the paths along either side of the Charles River? Or every road in the city with a dedicated bike lane?
    Let’s open it back up to cars shall we?

  6. Attention Boomers of Watertown- stop your whining or we’ll take Charles River Road away from you, too! Bahahahahaha!

    -Pedestrians and cyclists of Watertown

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