Bus Network Redesign Draft Comments Due July 31, 2022 If you haven’t heard about the Bus Network Redesign, the MBTA is currently proposing a redesign of the 50+ year-old bus network, with changes planning to roll out over the next few years, starting next spring. Comments…
Please call or email your state and local legislators and ask them to support an earmark of ~$750,000 for a traffic study that is necessary to move forward with much-needed safety improvements on Route 16 in Cambridge, Somerville and Medford. The timing is immediate (i.e.…
January 06, 2022
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Division of Professional Licensure
Office of Public Safety and Inspections
Architectural Access Board
1000 Washington St, Suite 710, Boston MA
Dear Members of the Architectural Access Board,
We submit the following public comment on the variance request for “MassDOT Project Number 608605 regarding Sidewalk and Wheelchair Improvements and Related Work”:
We welcome MassDOT’s plan to bring the crossing at Poplar Street in Somerville into regulatory compliance. However, we ask the board to deny the application for a variance as currently written and instead ask the project to bring the adjacent sidewalks into compliance, especially the short connection from the project’s current northwest boundary to the nearby bus stop.
We also suggest that the large radii of the turn lanes at Popular Street are contrary to current safety best-practice. They encourage high-speed turns that will put users of this new crosswalk at risk. We urge the board and MassDOT to collaborate on an improved design that would shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians and slow turning vehicles, such as squaring off the intersection and raising crosswalks.
Somerville Alliance for Safe Streets Steering Committee
Angie Byrne, Highland Ave
Ken Carlson, Beacon Street
Bonnie Denis, Maxwell’s Green
Chris Dwan, Ivaloo Street
Edward A. Faulkner, Bay Sate Ave
Stephanie Galaitsi, Morrison Ave
Joan Liu, Florence Street
Karen Molloy, Highland Avenue
Mark Niedergang, Conwell Street
Ellin Reisner, Mt. Vernon Street
George Schneeloch, School Street
Arah Schuur, Walker Street
Susann Wilkinson, Orchard Street
Emily Vides, Mystic Avenue
Larry Yu, Herbert Street
Alex Epstein, Windsor Road
After Tuesday’s election results, we are optimistic for positive changes coming to our streets, and Somerville is about to host several meetings and community input activities that will determine streetscape layouts all over the city for the next generation. These are our neighborhoods and local…
Thank you everyone for showing up and/or making comments to one or both of the I-93 Viaduct presentations by MassDOT. We secured some important promises, one of which is already implemented: the crossing at Blakeley Ave. This was where Marshall Mac was struck and killed by…
Somerville Alliance for Safe Streets (SASS)
May 19, 2021
Johnathan Gulliver, Highway Administrator
Jamey Tesler, Acting Secretary
Massachusetts Department of Transportation
10 Park Plaza, Suite 4160, Boston, MA
Dear Administrator Gulliver and Secretary Tesler,
Somerville Alliance for Safe Streets (SASS) is a coalition of hundreds of Somerville residents who demand safe streets and equitable infrastructure. Our group reflects Somerville’s diversity. We are pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, and transit users. We are parents of young children, seniors, and people with disabilities. Our recent call to action garnered more than 600 signatures, and the Mayor and the City Council have already responded by adding staff and accelerating project timelines. We hope that MassDOT will respond with similar urgency.
We are writing today to demand that you address the critical safety and accessibility deficiencies along Mystic Ave and McGrath Highway. These MassDOT-controlled roadways are the most dangerous and inequitable infrastructure in our city. Three pedestrians have been killed here in hit and run crashes by motorists in the past two years, the most recent of which was last month. This violence falls disproportionately on Somerville’s lower-income, Black and brown communities. Some of our most vulnerable residents have no choice but to traverse these roadways to get between home, food, work, and school.
We are frustrated by the lack of progress on fixing this long-standing highway injustice, and we urge you to make the following immediate improvements before more lives are lost. These improvements are necessary for safety now and will become even more important as the Route 93 viaduct project begins to reroute even more traffic through this area in 2022:
- Install Blakeley Ave crosswalk, traffic signal, and pedestrian refuge island this year, instead of waiting for the larger McGrath improvement project.
- Install ADA-compliant curb cuts and ramps at all crosswalks this spring or summer, with temporary asphalt curb ramps if more permanent construction needs to wait.
- Increase the walk phase and include countdown signals for all crosswalks at Broadway & McGrath and at Shore Drive & Mystic Ave.
- Construct raised crosswalks and speed humps at both entrances to the Kensington underpass.
- Complete pedestrian improvements at Shore Drive & Mystic Ave.
- Enact traffic calming measures such as rumble strips and speed humps to reduce illegal speeding on the on/off ramps of Route 93 and on Route 28/38.
- Decrease cut-through traffic on Mystic Ave by preventing left turns from the Exit 29 ramp of Route 93.
We acknowledge that MassDOT is already planning several improvements to this area, and while we welcome those plans we ask that you accelerate and enhance them. Specifically:
- Accelerate the Route 38 / Route 28 road improvement project from summer of 2023 to what was originally promised, summer of 2022.
- Extend the planned road diet to narrow McGrath north beyond Broadway to Mystic Ave by extending bicycle facilities and by building a signalized crosswalk and pedestrian refuge island at Blakeley Ave.
- Add sidewalk on Mystic Ave along Foss Park that extends to the east side of McGrath Highway to provide safer pedestrian access to Stop and Shop and East Somerville.
In addition to the ever-present threat of traffic violence, the whole Route 93 corridor through Somerville imposes major health impacts on residents living in abutting neighborhoods. (These potential adverse health impacts were known back in 1970 when construction of 93 began.) We urge MassDOT to finally mitigate the noise pollution and deadly ultrafine particulate pollution by protecting these neighborhoods with sound barriers and other types of mitigation along Route 93 on the same timeline as the viaduct project.
Finally, we ask that you increase communication with our city government and residents, the latter of whom are often not included in the decisions affecting their lives:
- Designate two individuals at MassDOT with direct access to decision makers to serve as dedicated points-of-contact for local residents and city leaders to address questions and concerns about these projects.
- Meet with SASS to discuss the timing and scope of the full set of proposed projects for McGrath Highway, Mystic Avenue, and Route 93.
At a time when our state and nation are struggling to address the dual crises of systemic racial inequality and climate change, it is unacceptable to invest in outdated designs that treat residents and pedestrians as second-class citizens while dumping traffic, noise, and air pollution onto neighborhoods that have been historically ignored.
We invite you to join us and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, State Rep. Christine Barber, State Rep. Mike Connolly, State Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven, Mayor Joe Curtatone, City Councillors Matt McLaughlin and Jesse Clingan, and local residents for a highway justice rally on May 26 at 6pm at McGrath and Broadway.
Somerville Alliance for Safe Streets Steering Committee
Ken Carlson, Beacon St, Ward 2
Bonnie Denis, Maxwell’s Green, Ward 5
Chris Dwan, Ivaloo St, Ward 2
Stephanie Galaitsi, Morrison Ave, Ward 5
Joan Liu, Florence St, Ward 1
Wilfred Mbah, Woods Ave, Councilor at Large
Karen Molloy, Highland Ave, Ward 5
Mark Niedergang, Conwell Street, Ward 5 City Councilor
Arah Schuur, Walker St, Ward 6
Emily Vides, Mystic Ave, Ward 4
Susann Wilkinson, Orchard St, Ward 6
Larry Yu, Herbert St., Ward 6
The original Google document version this letter is here.
We recently asked our community to contact Somerville City Councilors about the Mayor’s mid-year budget request for the Mobility Department — it worked! One of SASS’s top asks was for an increase in the staff of the city’s Mobility department. This team manages the planning for…