Council Stresses Importance of Transportation Planner, Worried About Development

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.

MBTA Officials Discuss Ways to Improve the 70 Bus, Other Transporation

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.

Watertown Looks Around at Other Towns for Ideas to Improve Transportation

 

Local efforts to improve transportation when Watertown officials have little influence on the MBTA can be tough, but they looked at what some neighbors are doing for inspiration. Transportation directors from Newton and Waltham, as well as a consultant who works on transportation plans, came to a forum on June 16, organized by the Watertown Pubic Transportation Task Force, the Town Council an the Department of Community Development and Planning. Both Waltham and Newton have completed extensive transportation planning efforts and are close to making recommendations a reality. Watertown will be embarking on such a transportation planning effort soon. Ralph DiNisco, principal of transportation planners Nelson Nygaard, gave some advice to Watertown. “Plan for things you want, not the things you are afraid of,” DiNisco said.

Forum Will Educate Public About Transportation & Traffic Issues in Town

A local group wants to give residents a voice in how transportation and traffic in Watertown looks in the future, and will hold a forum to educate residents about transportation planning. Traffic and public transportation have become big issues in Watertown, and will be even more vital as developments go up on Arsenal and Pleasant streets. So, the Watertown Public Transit Task Force, the Town Council and the Watertown Community Development and Planning Department will organize a forum on Thursday, June 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Watertown Free Public Library. The event is free and open to the all residents, employees and business owners in Watertown. The goal of the forum is to increase the shared knowledge about what modern transportation planning can do in municipalities like Watertown to improve local transportation and ease traffic congestion.

Council Subcommittee Searches for Ways to Cut Down on Use of Cars

A Town Council subcommittee searched for ways to cut down on the use of vehicles in Watertown, particularly driver only trips, to reduce the traffic in Watertown as town grows. For future development projects, and some recent ones, the town will require a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan, but councilors on the Transportation Committee struggled with ways to encourage businesses and large residential complexes to reduce their use of vehicles at their meeting last Tuesday. A TDM can have many features, including having an on-site manager to oversee the program, discounted transit passes, car and van pools, guaranteed rides home for those using transit or carpools, flexible work hours and contributions to a shuttle bus. The TDM numbers are based on the traffic studies done by developers before the project is approved. Director of Community Development and Planning Steve Magoon said the traffic created by a project rarely exceeds the numbers in the study.