Tuesday, April 16, 2013

2, 3 or 4 - The Mass. Ave. Corridor Project

The heated debate is still going on. Once you start reading the news, you may have a feeling there is a war out there...

The Massachusetts Ave Corridor Project is a plan to rebuild the main artery connecting Arlington with Cambridge - The Massachusetts Ave. I wrote about the planned transformation of the Arlington's main intersection before. The town called it the Center Safe Travel Project. Now, The Corridor Project seems like a logical extension of this idea and it is something I wished for many months ago. Let me quote myself here:
[Massachusetts Ave] is wide enough to accommodate bike lanes. This design is, in my opinion, the best option. Not only it merges both loose ends of the Bikeway but it promises bike lanes on Mass Ave. (...) hopefully those lanes would be eventually extended also to the east, in Cambridge's direction.
Therefore, The Corridor Project is supposed to place two 5' wide bike lanes in each direction on Mass Ave, on its 1 mile long section
between Pond Lane and the Rt 16. The detailed summary is available here.
The part of Mass Ave targeted by The Corridor Project.

In my opinion, the Mass Ave in this area is currently a bit of a mess. It is very wide with technically 4 lanes (2 in each direction) and parking places on both sides. I wrote "technically", since those lanes are not marked at all, so it's only up to the drivers to choose where those lanes are and how wide they should be. I really wish the town would at least paint the centerlines.

Once you read the project's summary, you will see that the town plans on removing one lane in westbound direction (toward Arlington center), while maintaining two lanes in eastbound direction (towards Cambridge). Also, the single westbound lane would be wider and the parking places on both sides of the street will be widened as well. This is to prevent dooring cyclists by parked cars. As I mentioned above, those cyclists will enjoy new 5' wide lanes in both directions.
It all sounds pretty sane and smart to me and overall looks like a well-thought solution. However, as you may expect, there will always be a group of people unsatisfied with any changes. The planned reduction from virtual 4 lanes down to 3 started an outcry of upset motorists even though the plan is to reduce number of lanes only in the less-traveled westbound direction. So as you can see, the motorists want all 4 lanes, the town plans for 3 and I would be perfectly happy with... 2, but only if we could fit bike lanes on both sides and streetcar's tracks (the "T") in the center.

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