North Mass Ave Update

The Council asked the Manager to review North Mass Ave a while back, in particular looking at metered parking spaces, trees and general streetscape.  You can read the Order here, and the Manager’s response, pasted below, is on the Council’s agenda for Monday night.  There’s not much meet there, I don’t think except to say that the Avenue will be looked at as part of the Citywide study.  Given the work that went into the stretch of Mass Ave between Harvard and Porter (though I don’t like the curb bumpout at Linnaean), I would have liked a quicker focus on at least the parking and tree wells for our stretch of the Avenue.


To:                          Richard C. Rossi, City Manager

From:                    Iram Farooq, Acting Assistant City Manager for Community Development

Owen O’Riordan, Commissioner, Department of Public Works

Joseph Barr, Director, Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department

Date:                     April 28, 2015

Re:                         Council Order #9 dated October 27, 2014 and

Council Order #22 dated February 23, 2015


Regarding North Massachusetts Avenue


North Massachusetts Avenue from Porter Square to the Arlington Line has received enhancements over the last several years as part of efforts by several departments in the City.  In 2008, the reconstruction of Porter Square transformed the streetscape by redesigning the street for all modes with the inclusion of bicycle lanes, new crosswalks and landscape elements.  Since that time, City Departments have continued various efforts north of Porter Square. Recent Chapter 90 Contract work included portions of reconstructed sidewalks from Blake Street to beyond Russell Street and will include roadway resurfacing in the spring of 2015. Between the fall of 2014 and the spring of 2015, 18 new trees will have been planted between Allen Street and Norris Street, along Mass Ave.  Other areas of sidewalk reconstruction have also been completed in discrete areas to address a variety of issues.  In addition, City Departments continue to coordinate with the planned private developments along the corridor to coordinate efforts and make appropriate considerations for changes to the public right of way relating to private development.


The City has also responded to requests for greater access by allowing median changes to access businesses and to minimize illegal u-turns.  Recently, a short piece of median was also removed to create a turn pocket for vehicles taking a left turn onto Russell Street.  This was identified as part of the solution to safety concerns of area residents.  The cause of concern related to drivers looking to make this left from Mass. Ave to Russell feeling pressured by holding up traffic behind them and making lefts based on limited gaps in on-coming traffic, and not adequately watching for pedestrians walking along Mass. Ave and crossing Russell Street.   The change provided space for drivers to wait while waiting for an appropriate gap in traffic that will not conflict with pedestrians.  A raised crosswalk was also constructed across Russell Street at Mass. Ave. to prioritize pedestrian safety.  The raised crosswalk is working well, however, the change in the median had unintended consequences, particularly during less busy travel times. Drivers were using the turn lane to make higher speed turns from Mass. Ave. to Russell Street.  DPW has modified the layout and replaced approximately 45’ of the median that was removed.


The full reconstruction of Mass. Avenue from Porter Square to the Arlington line has been discussed in years past as part of sewer separation efforts but is not currently funded.  A significant project in this area would likely be in excess of $20m and would need considerable resources, including state and federal funds, devoted to creating goals and a long-term vision for N. Mass. Avenue, and carrying this through construction.  Capital funds in the amount of $325,000 were allocated in FY 13 for data collection, survey and a visioning process to include all segments of the community.  These efforts will be coordinated and integrated with ongoing citywide comprehensive planning efforts starting this year.

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