RMV Closing Early Due to Storm, MassDOT Encourages People to Avoid Roads

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is advising the public against traveling as the National Weather Service is forecasting heavy snow rates per hour in the early afternoon today, Monday, February 1. Snowfall rates may exceed one inch per hour on Monday afternoon and Monday night. The very strong winds will lead to blowing snow and greatly reduced visibility during the height of the storm. “We urge the public to take this storm seriously because driving conditions will be difficult, with heavy snow falling at a fast rate and gusty winds expected,” said Acting Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler. “During the storm, we are advising the public to stay home and don’t drive if you don’t have to.” 

“We are encouraging those workers who have the ability to work remotely to do so tomorrow,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “If you do have to be on the roads we urge you to plan ahead and to be off the roadways by mid-day. We expect roadways to become snow covered and slippery in the afternoon and through the evening with limited visibility and high winds as the storm progresses.”

MassDOT’s snow and ice operations will be deployed throughout the Commonwealth as conditions necessitate. Highway Districts continually conduct preparation activities in advance of new weather systems and are able to pretreat roadways with brine and Magnesium Chloride when necessary.

Solar Powered Info Kiosks Coming to Watertown

The electronic information kiosk, made by Soofa Sign, was recently installed near Town Hall. New digital signs have started popping up on the streets of Watertown that will provide emergency messages, bus schedules, information about local government and more. The information kiosks are called Soofa Signs and are the creation of a startup run by MIT grads. They are solar powered and use e-ink. One has been put up near Town Hall/Saltonstall Park.

MassDOT Holiday Travel Tips, Post-Travel Quarantine Reminder

The following information was provided by MassDOT:

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is reminding members of the public to plan ahead for the upcoming holiday season, utilize the appropriate technology tools to make informed decisions, and be aware there may be limited public amenities on trips due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, travelers should pack essential items including face coverings, and, if visiting specific states, travelers will be required to quarantine for 14 days upon return to Massachusetts. “As per the CDC’s strong recommendation, we are asking people not to travel during these next few weeks of the holiday season because of Covid-19,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver, adding, “But if you must be on the roadway, you are advised to plan ahead, minimize stops, be aware of all out-of-state quarantine requirements, wear a face covering if you are traveling with someone not living in your household, and take all necessary precautions to protect yourself and your family.”

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has information about the pandemic and regulations pertaining to COVID-19, including the need to quarantine for 14 days when returning to Massachusetts after visiting specific states. Information can be found at: www.mass.gov/coronavirus. The High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane on I-93 between Boston and Quincy will extend its hours to be open from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., on Tuesday, December 22, and from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., on Wednesday, December 23.

LETTER: Councilor Concerned About Impact of Proposed Closing of Little Greenough Blvd.

NOTE: The original letter by Councilor Angeline Kounelis was sent to State Sen. Will Brownsberger when a petition was circulated in August calling for the closing of Greenough Boulevard between North Beacon and Arsenal streets. The Town Council is considering whether to ask the Department of Conservation and Recreation do a pilot program closing “Little Greenough” on weekends this spring, summer and fall. Will,

Many thanks for taking the time to share the petition, addressed to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), that is being circulated to permanently close “Little Greenough Blvd.” to vehicular traffic. I was not aware of the petition. 

Open green space and recreation are the ideals that all communities strive to encourage and implement.

Draft of Bike & Ped Plan to be Discussed at Public Meeting; New Path Behind Library

The draft of Watertown’s new Bike and Pedestrian Plan will be discussed at a public meeting in December, and the Town has a new section of the Community Path near the Watertown Library. Watertown Transportation Planner Laura Wiener sent out the following information:

New Bike and Ped Plan will Pave the Way for more Biking and Walking.  

Public Meeting December 7. The Town is undertaking a Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, to show the way toward roads and sidewalks that welcome bikers and pedestrians, along with cars. Partnering in this endeavor are the Town Council, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, the Department of Community Development and Planning, Public Works Department, and McMahon and Associates.  This effort has been ongoing for about a year.There will be a public meeting to review the Draft Plan, on Monday evening December 7, 2020, at 7:00PM via Zoom. The meeting is hosted by the Town Council Committees on Economic Development and Planning and Public Works. The consultant, McMahon and Associates, will present the draft plan and its recommendations, and then take questions and comments from Council members and the public.The Draft Plan, and other information is available on the Town website, HERE.  Click on the Flyer link for a link to the presentation and the Zoom meeting.Bike Ped Plan Project Goals

Increase opportunities for bicycling and walking, and thereby reduce the number of vehicle trips in Watertown.Increase safety and access for bicyclists and pedestrians, to promote biking and walking.Create a road map for future improvements to the Bicycle and Pedestrian network. 

Quick Build Community Path Extension in Watertown Square

Have you noticed some changes behind Town Hall and the Library?  The Town received funding from a MassDOT program called Shared Streets/Shared Spaces, to fund quick-build projects that support Covid-friendly outdoor activities.

MBTA Proposed Service Changes Could Impact Some Watertown Routes

An MBTA bus in Watertown. With ridership significantly down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the MBTA has proposed a series of changes to the system, including altering and consolidating bus routes, and reducing hours of service on subways and the Commuter Rail. The plan has been dubbed Forging Ahead by the MBTA. The T will host a series of online meetings where the changes will be discussed from mid-November to early December. The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board will vote on the changes on Dec.

Parking Plan with High-Tech Meters, Pay by Card & Phone Approved

Watertown’s current parking meters will be replaced with “smart” meters that offer a range of payment options. Watertown’s parking lots will be getting new meters which allow for paying by credit card and with cell phone apps in the parking plan approved by the Town Council on Tuesday night. The Parking Management Plan was the result of studies that go back to the fall of 2018. It included studies of how parking is used in Watertown, public meetings and surveys and presentations to the Council’s Joint Committees on Public Works and Economic Development & Planning. Other parts of the plan look at pricing of meters and who sets them, way-finding signage for the municipal lots, looking at finding private lots for the Town to partner with, and even creation of a pedestrian path through the lot near the Watertown Library.