The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) closed Charles River Road last week and will close again for two nights this week. The DCR sent out the following information:
On Thursday, May 10, 2018, and Friday, May 11, 2018, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will implement a roadway closure along Charles River Road in the Town of Watertown between North Beacon Street and Watertown Square from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. to accommodate paving work. Additionally, traffic patterns will be clearly marked and a police detail will be on site. WHERE: Charles River Road in the Town of Watertown between North Beacon Street and Watertown Square
WHEN: Thursday, May 10, 2018, and Friday, May 11, 2018, 7:00 p.m. – 5:00 a.m.
The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), an agency of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, oversees 450,000 acres of parks and forests, beaches, bike trails, watersheds, dams, and parkways. Led by Commissioner Leo Roy, the agency’s mission is to protect, promote, and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural, and recreational resources.
As the new Town Council term begins, Watertown Council President Mark Sideris looked toward the next two years and said that some of the major focus will be on traffic, development and communication with the public, as well as the upcoming school building projects. Newly elected Town Councilors, School Committee members and Library Trustees were sworn in by Town Clerk John Flynn on Tuesday night at the Mosesian Center for the Arts. After his swearing in, Sideris addressed the audience in the theater at the Arts Center. Development has been a big issue for several years, and Sideris said he would like to take a new approach at looking at new projects in town, from those completed, to those under construction and projects just getting started. “I will be working with the Community Development and Planning Department to coordinate a field trip to visit the sites that have been developed,” Sideris said.
Removing Charles River Road from Watertown Square, making changes to the 70 bus and improving access for bicyclists made the list of recommendations in MassDOT’s final Arsenal Street Corridor Report. The list of recommendations remained largely the same from the draft report released by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation in June. Officials added details to their recommendation for realigning Watertown Square, including removing one of the spokes off the intersection – Charles River Road. The benefits would be simplifying the intersection which then allows the traffic light phasing to change and make the intersection more efficient. The report acknowledges removing the road would have some complications,
“Eliminating the Charles River Road approach to the intersection may also reduce ‘cut-through’ traffic in the adjacent neighborhood.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has released a draft of the report and recommendations for improving the Arsenal Street Corridor, and officials will host a meeting later in June to discuss the report with the public.
The report made for MassDOT by consultants from VHB, includes improvements to vehicular, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian uses of the corridor, “with a targeted focus on enhancements to bus service along Arsenal Street and locations where the bus service ties into other crossing bus routes,” according to the MassDOT announcement. Click here to see the draft Final Report. The meeting will be held on Thursday, June 22 starting with a presentation at 6 p.m. and an open house from 7 to 8 p.m. The meeting will be in the Watertown Savings Bank Room at the Watertown Free Public Library, 123 Main St. In the draft final report, MassDOT officials write that the recommendations would require “a significant investment in potential transportation-related infrastructure.” “These projects represent an investment in total that currently far exceeds available funding as presently programmed.
The position of Transportation Planner has been discussed for years and the town has searched for someone to fill the role, but has struggled to find someone qualified to do the job. Tuesday night the Town Council stressed to Community Development and Planning Department Director Steve Magoon that they want the position filled.
The Transportation Planner would deal with issues such as traffic, public transportation and the planned Watertown shuttle. Magoon appeared before the Council for his budget hearing. During the discussion, Councilors also worry that the Planning Department has enough resources to deal with all the development in town. Filling the Transportation Planner position has been high on Magoon’s list.
The MBTA may change to bus routes in Watertown, adding new routes and improving all routes by making changes to fare collection, but all these moves will take some time. Wednesday night representatives from the MBTA and other transportation officials spoke to the Town Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Transportation. They also went into some options that had not previously been discussed in Watertown. The focus of the meeting was on the 70/70A bus, which runs through Watertown on Main Street and Arsenal Street and goes from Waltham to Cambridge. The route is one of the longest in the MBTA system, said Melissa Dullea, director of Planning and Schedules for the MTBA.
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.