New Street Redesign: Plans Prioritize Safety for Walkers & Cyclists

Proposed design for crossings at New St and Concord Ave

Proposed design for crossings at New St and Concord Ave

Last month the Department of Public Works held a second public meeting to review designs for the planned reconstruction of New Street, a critical infrastructure improvement that the FPRA has championed for the past year. The designs presented at the meeting are now posted on the DPW site.

Option 2 was preferred by those who attended the meeting and will be the one implemented. We are pleased with the progress, and thank Kathy Watkins and DPW staff for being responsive to residents’ concerns.

New plan for the residential section of New St that borders Danehy Park

New plan for the residential section of New St that borders Danehy Park

Here are the key points:

New Street has two different right of ways — it is 40′ wide on the section from Bay State Road down to where Danehy Park begins (at the end of the Evolve Fitness parking lot) and 50′ wide alongside the park down to the mall entrance.The preferred plans (Option 2) will provide bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides for the entire length of the street. (Yeah!)

Car lanes will be 10′ wide for the length of the street (this will slow traffic somewhat).

There will be 8′ sidewalks in the wider section beside the park opposite the residential buildings and 5′ sidewalks in the narrower section, which is currently commercial. (The sidewalks could be widened and trees planted if/when the commercial parcels are redeveloped). The sidewalk along the park will be moved so that it is set back behind the line of existing trees, closer to the park itself.

Bike lanes will be 6′ in the wider section and 5′ in the narrower section. They will be painted green at “high conflict” intersections at either end of the street. Elsewhere they will be marked with the bike symbol and a white line to visually separate cars from bikes.

There will be no on-street parking, eliminating risk of cyclists being doored. Business owners expressed concern with loss of parking, and the lack of on-street parking for visitors to the residential buildings was noted. The priority is to make street safer for all modes and it is note wide enough to accommodate street parking.

The new design will create separate bike and pedestrian crossings along Concord Avenue where New St and Bay State Road converge in the V at the rotary. One side of the V will have a raised crossing (the lane where cars exit New Street to turn right onto Concord). The city would have to negotiate with the state DCR to have the crosswalk raised on the other side (the concern is that it would slow cars exiting the rotary onto Bay State Road or New St and could impede flow through the rotary — slowing these cars would be a good thing from the standpoint of pedestrians, however).

The city will add bump outs to significantly narrow the intersection of Bay State Rd and New St so that the crossing between the Sozio store and Children’s Village daycare is much safer than currently.

There will be raised crosswalks directly in front of the park entrance and other (level) crosswalks mid-block where the park starts by Evolve fitness center and by the mall entrance.

We asked for new signs to slow traffic entering/exiting Fresh Pond Mall. The mall owner has reportedly assured the city manager that he will make some safety improvements in the parking lot this summer, minimally to create a safe path from the end of New St to the back of the mall building to Core Power yoga center. We will continue to press for more safety substantial improvements to this very congested lot.

There will street trees behind the sidewalk in front of the new residential buildings and the utility wires will be buried on that stretch only. There is no room for street trees in the narrower commercial section, but if those parcels are redeveloped that could change. Donald Adamian, who owns the fireplace store opposite Basha cafe, offered to move his fence back to create room for street trees. He also offered to lease some parking to the businesses concerned by loss of street parking.

DSC_0783We also asked that the non-conforming signage (at left) on the corner of New St and Concord Ave be removed.

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2 thoughts on “New Street Redesign: Plans Prioritize Safety for Walkers & Cyclists

  1. Wow. Great job! If there was an organisation as dedicated and successful as the FPRA in other parts of Cambridge, I bet we’d see far less opposition to new development (no on street parking! I’m not sure how you got that, but holy crap!) This is exactly what the Alewife area needs to reach the level of vibrancy and pedestrian friendliness as the rest of Cambridge. Keep up the good work!

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