Charlie BreitroseLt. Gov. Karyn Polito spoke with Town Council President Mark Sideris during an event where she announced more than $3 million in grants to Watertown. The event was at the Hampton Inn & Suites at Arsenal Yards. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito stopped by Watertown on Tuesday to celebrate the transformation of Arsenal Street and to give out more than $3 million in grants to help municipal officials continue the economic growth in the community. The event took place at the Hampton Inn & Suites, located in the biggest redevelopment project in Watertown — Arsenal Yards. Polito recalled how she used to visit the Arsenal Mall when she was a student at Boston College in the mid-1980s, when it looked very different.
Residents living between the Charles River and North Beacon Street, east of Watertown Square, packed the Town Council Chambers well past seating capacity Tuesday night because they are concerned about traffic near their homes and how the area could be impacted by the Watertown Square Improvement project. A study of the Arsenal Street corridor for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) by consultants from VHB identified several improvements that could positively impact the major artery through the east side of Watertown. VHB’s Laura Castelli said that residents who attended public meetings about the Arsenal Street Corridor study overwhelmingly supported making improvements to Watertown Square the top priority. One major change proposed to improve flow through Watertown Square would be to remove Charles River Road from the mix, at least in one direction (in or out). The project was originally scheduled for the medium term, Castelli said, because it was thought the town would have to wait to get state road improvement funds, but it was pushed forward because it will be part of the I-Cubed project.
State transportation officials will be taking input from people about the proposed changes to Arsenal Street and other streets in the area through July 10.
Some changes proposed include redesigning Watertown Square and removing one road from the intersection, improving bus service and improving bicycle accommodations. Click here to see more information on the proposals in the Arsenal Corridor Study Final Draft. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation sent out the following announcement:
MassDOT is conducting the Arsenal Street Corridor Study in Watertown. This study has developed alternatives that are intended to improve transportation conditions on Arsenal Street between Galen Street and Birmingham Parkway. The study has proposed 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. The Draft Final Report was released in June and the project team recently hosted a public information meeting. Comments on the report will be accepted through Monday, July 10, 2017.
Removing one of the roads leading into Watertown Square, splitting up the 70 and 70A into three routes and using technology to improve traffic flow are three of multiple recommendations for improving Arsenal Street in the study done for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). The final draft of the Arsenal Street Corridor Study was presented by transportation consultants from VHB at a public forum Thursday at the Watertown Library. Information was gathered for the study during six stakeholder meetings and three public meetings (including the one Thursday) dating back to September 2015. There were a total of nine recommendations, whittled down from the 18 presented at a meeting in October 2016. “We looked at driving, biking, walking and especially public transportation,” said Michael Clark, project coordinator for MassDOT.
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.
One of the trees along Arsenal Street near the new apartment complex was ripped out of the ground recently when a tractor trailer struck it, and other trees in the area had to be trimmed to prevent further damage. Tree Warden Chris Hayward said the damage occurred in mid-June while Arsenal Street was being ripped up to remove old trolley tracks. “Because the center of the road was now closed, traffic had to be pushed to the outer edges of the roadway,” Hayward said. “Around 3 p.m. on Thursday June 16, a tractor trailer truck clipped a large leader that had not been pruned in advance of this new traffic pattern. That tree was literally ripped out of its planting location.”
One of the hallmarks of Watertown was that it was a sleepy, safe, family friendly place. I know that The Old Country Buffet went out of business due to bankruptcy and it looks like Friendly’s lease is about to expire soon but The Old Country Buffet was a place that working families could take their kids out to dinner because it was affordable. There were plenty of choices and let’s just say it was far from swanky so working families could go in their sweats and their kids could be a bit noisy without too many people being offended. Senior Citizens on a fixed income used to take advantage of their all you could eat buffet and eat enough for lunch and dinner. I know The Old Country Buffet isn’t coming back and I’m not saying we should have something exactly like it but it would be nice if we did reserve some space for restaurants that don’t charge approximately $35 for a roasted chicken. While a nightclub like bowling alley may bring in more profit and tax revenue than a traditional bowling alley, its not family friendly nor is it family affordable.
A community meeting will be held to discuss the proposed renovation of the athenahealth campus at the Arsenal on the Charles.
The meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 29 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Coolidge School Apartments, 319 Arlington St. Several new buildings have been planned, as well as a large new parking garage on the west side of the complex. This has been a sore point for nearby neighbors who said the last version included a garage that is too tall and too close to North Beacon Street. Full set of the athenahealth plans can be seen online or view in person at the Planning Office on the third floor of Town Hall from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.