Developers Discuss Project on Galen Street, Traffic & Transit Improvements

A view looking south from Galen Street of the proposed life science building at 66 Galen Street. Developers of the parcel on Galen Street that includes for former Colonial GMC dealership, say their project will bring millions in property taxes with the new biotech space, and also improve traffic in and around the Galen Street area. Residents remain worried that the gridlock will continue, or move onto side streets. Boston Development Group hosted a virtual community meeting on Oct. 1 to present the planned building, and ways they want to improve the traffic and public transportation in the area.

LETTER: Steve Owens Would Be a Transportation Minded State Rep

Many Watertown voters have traffic, congestion and public transportation at the top of their list of concerns. Many of us rely heavily on MBTA service to get to work and other essential life functions. The majority of us are deeply concerned about the environment and climate change. If you want an advocate who will be committed to addressing these concerns in the State House, then Steve Owens is your best choice for State Representative. Steve is a transportation professional by trade and understands the complication of going from policy to complex nuts and bolts operations.

Many Watertown Bus Routes Will See Service Changes in Fall

The 71 bus will have increased service beginning Aug. 30. It is one of several MTBA routes serving Watertown that will see changes. Several bus routes serving Watertown will see changes in service beginning August 30, including increased service on the 70 and 71 buses. Other routes begin operating on a limited schedule, or route, one will have increased weekend service and one will continue to be suspended.

Changes to MBTA Buses Serving Watertown Start in Late December

An MBTA bus in Watertown. Watertown public transit riders will soon see some changes to bus routes as part of the MBTA’s Better Bus Project. Beginning Dec. 22, 2019, the 70 and 70A buses will see changes in its service to north Waltham,, and the 71 bus will have shortened routes during the morning and evening rush hours. Also, stops will be eliminated on the 52 bus, which runs out of Watertown Yard.

Shuttle May Be Coming to Watertown; Initially it Would Not Serve Residents

There is good news, and some not so good news for people waiting for a public shuttle bus in Watertown, the Town Council’s Economic Development and Planning subcommittee learned Tuesday night. The Watertown Transportation Management Association (TMA) is close to creating what will be known as the Watertown Connector, which will serve Arsenal Street and other parts of the Eastside of town. However, at first, the shuttles will only be available for people who work for businesses or live in apartment complexes that are part of the TMA. The TMA is made up mostly of companies and projects required by their building permits to contribute to the TMA (and in most cases the shuttle), some who have joined voluntarily, plus the Town of Watertown. The shuttles would be an expansion of the current Athenahealth shuttle system, said Bridger McGaw of Athenahealth who also serves as president of the Watertown TMA.

OP-ED: State Senator on the Bad Week for the MBTA

The following piece was written by State Sen. Will Brownsberger, who represents Watertown, Belmont and parts of Boston:

It has been a very bad week for the MBTA. Two train derailments injured dozens and massively inconvenienced hundreds of thousands of people. 

As I write, no one seems to know yet how long it will take to repair critical signal systems that the derailed train destroyed. Red line riders may have to endure diminished service and extraordinary rush hour crowding for days or weeks. While expediting repairs, the MBTA has rightly brought in an outside consulting team to review the events. The legislature will take great interest in the results of that review. 

For me, here is the big question: What will that review reveal about the work force and operational management of the MBTA? We knew that from time to time scheduled bus trips simply don’t happen because an employee doesn’t show up. We know that the MBTA’s derailment rate is high. We knew that a terrifying runaway train incident was triggered by an operator disabling a safety device. Investigators have already concluded that the recent green line derailment was operator error. 

While safety is always nominally the number one mission of any transit agency, how strong is the safety culture really? Are line managers overextended and under too much pressure to deliver timely service with inadequate staffing? What do these incidents say about employee morale and discipline? As legislators, we tend to focus less on operational conditions, which are hard to evaluate from outside, and more on the issues of system repair and service expansion. My impression has been and remains that the MBTA’s board and leadership team have been doing a very good job in turning around a state of physical system decay that was produced by decades of inadequate investment.

OP-ED: Citizen Group Critical of Slow Roll Out of Watertown Shuttle

The following piece came from the Watertown Transportation Task Force:

The Watertown Transportation Task Force (WTTF) today released a report on the status of proposed shuttle buses for Pleasant Street and Arsenal Street, titled, “Shuttle Buses for Arsenal and Pleasant Streets: What’s Happened, What Hasn’t, Why?” The report is critical of the lack of progress made to date and recommends changes the Town should make going forward. The Task Force report describes the efforts to get shuttle buses running along Pleasant Street to Watertown Square and along Arsenal Street to a mass transit station. It recommends that the Town should fully enforce special permit conditions which require “proportionate financial participation” by developers to fund effective TMA shuttle operations. The WTTF has strongly advocated for shuttle service, but the report also proposes that Town funds should not go to any shuttle program until (1) a realistic multi-year financial analysis forecasts the budget for shuttle operations on each corridor and estimates any budget shortfall due to inadequate private funding, and (2) strong pre-conditions are set for all Town contributions to a shuttle program. The concept for the shuttles was that a Watertown Transportation Management Association (known as a TMA) would be created to implement transportation demand management programs for large new developments along these corridors which would include shuttle busses.

OP-ED: Changes to Traffic Signal Timing Will Make Mt. Auburn St. Bus Lanes Work Better

The following piece was provided by State Sen. Will Brownsberger (D – Belmont) who represents Watertown:

Thousands of commuters on Mount Auburn Street and on Fresh Pond Parkway had a very rough ten days starting on Monday, November 5. That is the day that a contractor swapped in a new controller for the traffic signals and failed to properly program it. The new Siemens 60 signal controller is so sophisticated that only a few engineers have the expertise to properly program it. Commuters endured ten days of bad timing until the right specialist was able to get it working as intended. As of Thursday, Nov.