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.”

22 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.

    • I thought the city of newton was involved in this demented decision to close Greenough.
      The closure of the road is making life for commuters late for work, short tempered, passing illegally, bringing riff raff into our neighborhood blasting music from their vehicles from songs loaded with the f bomb.
      Cyclists already have excellent bike paths that go through there.
      Traffic increases to the nth degree on Arsenal and Louise Streets.
      It is a damn no brainer to keep Greenough open to traffic ALWAYS.
      Who makes these retarded decisions that are making our lives miserable in within the affected neighborhood?
      You should be fired without stipends.
      It’s Watertown NOT Cambridge.
      We will be seeking legal assistance to keep it open.

      • The decision to close Greenough was made by the state Department of Recreation and Conservation, which controls the roadway. Watertown had requested weekend closure simular Memorial Drive in Cambridge, but the state closed it for the whole time.

  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”.

      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

  7. Open the road back up. It’s closure provides only marginal benifit as the substantial bike path already exists.
    It’s closure has produced substantial backup at Westwrn Av intersection. The idling vehicles a d subsequent pollution hurts the community.

  8. I’m a cyclist and while I’m usually in favor of extra road space for cyclists, this one truly is unnecessary. The road already has a bike path alongside AND this road doesn’t get much cyclist usage. I’ve used it a number of times but would be fine on the path.

  9. DCR closing a road for pedestrian/bike access when there’s a bike/pedestrian path next to the road only makes sense if their goal is to antagonize people. There’s an urgent need for better pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure in Greater Boston, but shutting down a wooded road that has its own separated bike path does not contribute to that need. The Paul Dudley White path was not clogged with cyclists when Greenough Boulevard was open.

  10. This closure has caused many to avoid the area for city shoppers and is seeking alternate shops and stores throughout the area. This impact will be felt once people stop shopping at the Arsenal Mall stores and restaurants. Target is feeling the pinch as Best Buy as well…the traffic is horrendous and this Greenough closure is definitely not the perfect fit for such a small group of wannabe health nuts on bicycles and foot patrols…Grow up people and open up all the access routes to this beloved area created for the people not for DCR and local politicians….

  11. As a nearby resident, I am outraged by this. There is plenty of space on the outskirts of the street as well as the other side of the river. Coming from Brighton into Watertown, it is extremely inconvenient to go to the plaza area consisting of target or the other side near Home Depot. I understand more so last year when more businesses were closed but I agree it is less utilized and causes more headache. What used to be a <5 minute drive has turned into at least 10 minutes and sitting in lights to go in that area.

    I wouldn’t be that upset if this hadn’t lasted since April. It’s been almost 7 months! Ridiculous!

  12. I agree. This is absurd. I have time to light many times from Watertown to Brighton and it is 8 to 9 minutes each time. I usually have to do this twice a day.

    I don’t understand why pedestrians can’t walk on the pedestrian walkway and cars can’t go where the road is.

  13. Like others this closing of Greenough is so wrong and awful. I have to go almost two miles out of my way to get to Oak Square and it often takes me 10 minutes to get from from Arsenal St to Western Ave. I am handicapped and cannot walk down that road to sit on a bench for lunch and enjoy the Charles River. Let the Bikers and joggers use the paths that were made for them. I can’t run, jog and now I can’t sit on a bench that was made for people to sit back, relax. Please, Please let this Road be for all.

  14. I love that Greenough has been converted from a street into a park. Adds so much recreational space. Great for all the families and senior citizens. There was never a lot of car traffic. And maybe some of the upset car drivers can consider taking there bike and appreciate the short cut that Greenough offers to them… Thank you DCR!

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