Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Key Issue Update: East Broadway Business District and East Somerville

East Somerville Main Streets has recently begun a new initiative of producing a key issue update about once a month. It is our hope that these will allow people in the area to become more familiar with the projects underway in East Broadway and throughout Somerville.

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The Broadway Streetscape Project: Over the past few years, the City of Somerville has been working on the redesign of Broadway from Garfield Ave. to the City Line. The project is a multi-million dollar investment into East Somerville that will create more space for a bike lane, substantially wider sidewalks (opening opportunities for outdoor dining), improved lighting, and bumpouts. By improving crosswalks and landscaping, the project will also make East Broadway more pedestrian friendly.

UPDATE: The Broadway Streetscape Project will be put out to bid by the State in mid September. This timing should allow a contractor to be selected, hold pre-construction meetings, develop a schedule and start work in the spring or early summer of 2012.

The Green Line: The Green Line Extension project is an initiative of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). The project will extend existing MBTA Green Line service from a relocated Lechmere Station in East Cambridge to Union Square and College Avenue. This project will greatly improve public transit service in some of the most densely-populated municipalities of the Commonwealth With two stops near East Somerville.


UPDATE: As of 8/1/11, the Green Line extension has been postponed for initial construction until 2018-2020, citing project complexity and financial challenges. Leading up to this setback, the first round of Station Design workshops with the MBTA and new consultant team were held in June, and a second round will begin in the Fall after reviewing participant recommendations. Additionally the Green Line Extension team will be holding design meetings on the Community Path and the Maintenance Facility soon.

You can find the official website and preliminary design documents at www.somervillestep.org or www.greenlineextension.org/documents.html .

The Inner Belt: Currently, the City of Somerville has formed a Steering Committee, facilitated by Goody Clancy, to create a long term vision for the Inner Belt. Issues being looked at include: enhanced transit access, improved pedestrian connections, improved vehicular connections, extension of the Somerville Community Path through the area and increased public space and the creation of mixed-use development including new housing, retail, and office options.

UPDATE: There have been 2 meetings of the steering committee to date, including a June 25th “Walkshop,” which allowed committee participants and the public to review the area on foot to assess the attributes of the area.

Sullivan Square/Rutherford Ave. Development: “The scope of design work for this project is to prepare a preliminary roadway design for the Rutherford Avenue Corridor and for Sullivan Square. The design will focus on developing a pedestrian friendly environment with safe crossings and better access to parks and Orange Line stations; routing regional traffic away from the corridor and creating neighborhood scale streets; providing links to the regional bicycle network; creating parcels for development and open space; and developing a phased implementation plan” (http://www.cityofboston.gov/transportation/rutherford/).

UPDATE: Right now, there are two options being discussed including maintaining the underpass, and creating a surface option. The details of the surface option are given here: Sullivan Square Surface Option will the eliminate underpass, create gridded street network at surface to provide drivers with multiple options to move through area, build usable green space in center of circle and along edges, create safe pedestrian crossings in area including at JJ Ryan Jr. Playground, add multi-use path to Alford Street Bridge, provide 450 on-street parking spaces, create several new blocks that can be developed to capitalize on proximity to Sullivan Station, increasing job opportunities, housing, and tax revenues

The McGrath Highway:

There is currently a working group looking at: “Determining the Future of the Route 28 Corridor.” This is an initiative of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). MassDOT has only recently taken ownership of the McGrath Highway and Route 28 corridor from the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). In partnership with the City of Somerville, MassDOT has recognized that

  • The elevated structures will need substantial repair in the near future, in addition to long-term maintenance
  • Several significant planning efforts are underway for the areas adjacent to the McGrath Highwaycorridor
  • Extension of the Green Line rapid transit system to Medford will significantly change the area
  • Moving forward, the McGrath Highway corridor will continue to play a pivotal role in providing multi-modal access for the region and the immediately adjacent neighborhoods

UPDATE: MassDOT initiated the study in response to these issues. This effort offers MassDOT and the community the opportunity to consider the future use and potential de-elevation of the roadway within the City of Somerville to ground level. The Grounding McGrath study will seek not only to balance the needs of all transportation users, but to facilitate connections along the corridor and encourage development that will have a positive impact on the community. Pre-dating even the I-93 northbound deck, the current McGrath Highway is a relic of a time when auto-dominated transportation shaped communities. Even if the primary elevated structures are still necessary or desirable, MassDOT recognizes the need to “Ground” McGrath Highway in the reality of today’s uses. A community vision for the future will be an important element in this process. For more information http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/planning/other2011studies.aspx.

If you would like any more information on any of these projects, please contact East Somerville Main Streets at 617.623.3869 or email carrie@eastsomervillemainstreets.org, and we will give you the appropriate contact information. Also: Have an update? See a mistake? Let us know!

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