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Read EALS letter to the town regarding the recent pedestrian accidents on Mass Ave and our action plan to improve the situation.
EALS April meeting will be held next Wednesday April 9, 7:00-8:30 pm in the community room at the Fox Library.
We are very excited about the primary agenda item which will be a discussion about a community mural project. The mural is slated for the east wall of the commercial building at the corner of Mass Ave and Marathon Street. This could be the first in a series of public art projects that may come in conjunction with–but funded separately from–the Mass Ave Corridor project.
Discussion will be lead by Stephanie Marlin-Curiel from the Arlington Cultural Commission, the artist himself and the owner of the Anthony’s East Side Deli building.
Please do not forget to vote in the Town Election this Saturday, April 5th (8am – 8 pm).
We are thrilled to know that the Mass Ave Corridor plan is not directly or indirectly on the ballot for the first time in five years! As such, we offer no strong endorsements this year. All three candidates for Board of Selectmen have publicly supported the corridor plan in one form or another in the past two years. However, Dan Dunn was a particular champion for the federally-funded pedestrian and bike safety project literally from day one in office. For that, we express our appreciation.
We also note that a trio of those within EALS inner-circle are running for office. This includes Jennifer Susse for School Committee, Andrew Bengston for Town Meeting Pct 7 and David Watson for Town Meeting Pct. 5. We wish them luck this Saturday.
To: Patricia Leavenworth, Project Manager
Marie Rose PE, MassDOT Director of Projects
Thomas Broderick, MassDOT Chief Engineer
From: Phil Goff and Chad Gibson, co-chairs
Date: November 20, 2013
CC: Carol Kowalski, (Director of Arlington Planning Department), Laura Wiener (Town Planner), Adam Chapdelaine (Town Manager), Transportation Advisory Committee, Arlington Board of Selectmen (via Marie Krepelka), Michael Rademacher (Arlington DPW Director)
East Arlington Livable Streets (EALS) Coalition is neighborhood group with over 300 supporters and over 500 Facebook followers. We advocate for safer streets for all users and a vibrant neighborhood for residents and businesses alike. We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the revised 25% plans for the Minuteman Bikeway Crossing of Mass Ave and Route 60.
These comments reference the revised 25% plan shown to the public on November 6th, 2013. We applaud the revised plan removing the lane of curb-side parking on the south side of Mass Ave between Pleasant Street and Swan Place. The removal of parking lane has created much safer conditions for path users transiting Arlington Center. However, the Town’s plan to create three parallel parking spots, carved out of the pocket park along Swan Place, unnecessarily increases the hazard to cyclists from parking maneuvers and opening doors on the de-facto path alignment on Swan Place. We recommend that the current park be improved with seating, a drinking fountain, and bicycle parking, which would encourage path users to stop and explore Arlington center. We fully understand the Town’s desire to minimize parking removal in Arlington Center. However, keeping this as green space would benefit the town and its businesses more than three parking spaces. While the proposal to change the Swan Place pocket park to parking is our primary concern, we would also like to make the following observations:
Figure 1: Proposed Changes to 25% Plan
Our group is enthusiastic about this project and the improvements to the design since the initial 25% plans presented last spring. While the removal of the east bound parking lane on Mass Ave is a positive step forward, we consider replacing it with parallel parking on Swan Place as a missed opportunity to improve the appeal of Arlington Center to path users and maintain green space.
Hey all – we’ve been waiting a long time for the opportunity to say that the Mass Ave Corridor planning and design process is finally OVER! The 100% plans and specifications have been approved by ALL state and federal authorities and was advertised for bid in the Globe yesterday.
You can also see MassDOT’s web site posting here:
http://www.mhd.state.ma.us//default.asp?pgid=content/projectsRoot&sid=wrapper&iid=http://www.mhd.state.ma.us//ProjectInfo/ (click on “Arlington”, then look for #604687).
This effort started over 250 long weeks ago at the first public meeting in early October 2008. Since then, there have been:
Throughout it all, EALS Coalition has been there to voice our support for the pedestrian/bicycle improvements and the three-lane plan in the face of sometimes-boisterous opponents and state and federal agencies that occasionally dragged their feet and slowed the process down.
We could not have done it without the tremendous embrace of the project from the 300 of you on our e-mail list. We thank you for your multiple letters and e-mails, your placard waving and your testimony at public meetings and hearings.
During the campaign against last April’s ballot referendum, passionate volunteers came from throughout the Town and a large number of voters made clear their desire for a safer, slower, and more green Mass Ave in East Arlington. We know that the completion of the project sometime in 2015 will improve safety, enhance the business environment and maintain the high quality of life all Arlingtonians enjoy.
Bids are due on the nearly $6 million project in January so keep your eyes open for bulldozers next spring. EALS will continue our work to improve walking and bicycling along Mass Ave throughout the Town and take on projects aimed to enhance safety and livability.
Thanks again for all of your support!
What are you doing School VacationWeek?
iCan Shine is a nonprofit organization that
teaches individuals with disabilities to ride a conventional two-wheel bicycle through it’s iCan Bike program. To learn more about this organization visit www.icanshine.org
Volunteer Opportunity: Be a spotter for the same rider for each of the 5 days and experience the
thrill of giving the gift of riding a bike! 75 invigorating minutes per day… it just may be the most rewarding exercise and “moving” experience you’ve ever had!
Orientation/Training: Sunday afternoon, April 14th - 2 hours
Riding Program: Monday through Friday, April 15th-19th - 5 90-minute sessions available each day.
Location: Ottoson Middle School, 63 Acton St., Arlington, MA
· At least 14 years old
· Able to attend one or more 90 minute sessions for each of the 5 days of camp at same time each day
· Able to provide physical, emotional and motivational support to assigned rider
· Able and willing to get some exercise (light jogging/running) for a great cause!
For more information or to volunteer:
More info: www.icanshine.org
Hello EALS members and supporters of A Better Mass Ave
Yesterday was quite a day. Turnout was up significantly (29% overall) due, in all likelihood, to the non-binding referendum about traffic lanes on Mass Ave. We are delighted that Kevin Greeley—running on a platform that strongly supported the current 3-lane plan—easily won re-election. He defeated Maria Romano, who made opposition to the Mass Ave plan a core part of her platform, by a 58%-42% margin. We are also pleased to note that Kevin’s votes out numbered Ms. Romano’s by 57 votes in East Arlington.
While clearly a defeat to Question 1 was what we’ve been working towards this spring, it was not to be. The question about retaining 4 traffic lanes on Mass Ave won by a margin of roughly 51%-49%. We came within 237 votes of defeating a referendum that was an overly-simplistic question whether voters preferred 4 lanes without any mention of the trade-offs to pedestrian and bicycle safety, enhancements to Capitol Square, the inability to meet state design standards and, of course, the risk of losing the $6.8m in federal and state funding. Take heart folks, some take-aways from yesterday are that we:
Another clear positive from this election was the enormous support from over 80 election-week volunteers across Arlington with the shared vision of a stronger community tied together with a more livable East Arlington. Our livable streets community is not weaker after this election, but stronger.
Rest assured, EALS Coalition and others will continue to work our tails off to ensure that the corridor plan moves forward to final design and out to bid before the September deadline. Beyond September, the federal/state funding allocation could be removed from the state’s TIP (Transportation Improvement Program) funding cycle, putting us at the back of the long line of towns and cities wanting federal and state aid for road projects.
We are confident that MassDOT and the Federal Highway Administration are not going to put any further roadblocks to the plan because 237 more Arlingtonians voted “yes” to a simplistic and vague ballot question. As a non-binding referendum, it simply provides a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen. We foresee no indication of any weakening of support from the unanimous Board.
While opponents to the Mass Ave plan have surely taken heart to yesterday’s results, in the end, there is no doubt we will have A Better Mass Ave in the near future.
Thanks again to everyone,
-Phil and Chad
PS – EALS next monthly meeting will be Wednesday April 10 at 7:30 at the Fox Library. Clearly, we intend to further analyze election results and will discuss next steps to moving the project forward.
From early on the planning process, going back to 2009, Kevin Greeley has been a strong supporter of the pedestrian, bicycle and streetscape improvements in the Mass Ave plan and we are happy to endorse him for another term on the Board of Selectmen. Besides an advocate for the current plan for Mass Ave, Kevin has been an effective Selectmen and can certainly take some credit for the high quality of life that we have living in Arlington.
In addition, as many of you know, there is a ballot question asking Arlingtonians if we prefer to maintain 4 traffic lanes on Mass Ave in East Arlington. Note that numerous traffic studies have ALL concluded that four lanes are unnecessary, compromise safety and would not meet state design guidelines, thus jeopardizing the federal and state funding.
EALS Coalition, along with a sleugh of others strongly encourage you to reject this question and vote NO on Question #1, because:
We can’t afford to lose the funding. The town is in line to receive $6.8 million to cover the cost of the project. If we delay any longer, we will have to pay for it ourselves. We passed a tax override in 2011 to support a long-term financial plan for the town. Projects like this can break the bank. The town can’t afford to lose this assistance.
We don’t want an unsafe design for Mass Ave. Mass Ave is used by drivers, pedestrians, public transit riders, and bicyclists. The proposed plan will make the street safer for everyone, balancing the many demands on this public resource.
We shouldn’t throw away eight years of public input. The rebuild plan includes wider sidewalks, upgraded lighting and traffic signals, and a greatly improved East Arlington business district, the result of professional planning together with years of public participation. Let’s not start over.
We also recognize the importance of other items on Saturday’s ballot:
Town Meeting Members
There are a lot of good candidates for Town Meeting in Precincts throughout Town. We have not done all of our homework and do not have specific endorsements. However, we do want to give a shout-out to those in competitve races who have volunteered or have submitted a testimonial and photograph on the www.abettermassave.org web site explaining why they want to move the project forward–not kill it. They include:
Every year we ask a question of those running for school committee, the question and responses from each of the candidates is below:
As you may know, the East Arlington Livable Streets (EALS) Coalition is a neighborhood-based advocacy rganization founded in 2008. We advocate for a more holistic and sustainable transportation system and streetscape design
We are reaching out to all the School Committee candidates with a question. If elected to school committee, what would you do to help promote walking and bicycling to school to promote the health of our children and our
Response from Judson Pierce:
Thank you for your email. I am pleased to have participated in the Dallin Walk to School Day Celebrations each of the last few years. I play my sax and former School Committee Member, current Selectman, Joe Curro played his harmonica. We entertained the kids and their parents as they walked to school!
Response from Michael Buckley:
I have said may times since staring this campaign for School Committee that our children are our most important investment and that every dollar invested responsibly in their education is one more dollar invested in their future. This includes a future that promises intellectual as well as physical fulfillment. Therefore, we must think of every way possible to make sure that our children not only have access to the schools and classrooms of the 21st Century, but have the parks, bike paths, playgrounds, roadways and recreational facilities that will mitigate or prevent the health challenges that many of our children face today as well as those that will arise if more is not done.
As a member of the school committee, I would work in conjunction with the Board of Selectmen in pushing for these measures. My argument is that it may cost a little more today, but the money, not to mention the problems it would save us, are immeasurable.
As an educator, I have alway prided myself on being proactive. This includes having vision and the will to carry out that vision.
if elected in April, I will work diligently and honestly with any group or organization that is willing to help our children so they do have the chance for a bright and promising future.
Response from Kirsi Allison-Ampe:
Hi East Arlington Livable Streets,
I try to be a good example: I walk with my younger daughter to Stratton; my older daughter walks to school every day (a mile each way) even in bad weather; we walk into town or for errands as much as possible.
I’ve worked to promote pedestrian safety via infrastructure: I requested a pedestrian sign at Summer & Washington in 2009; I’ve reported broken walk signals and unsafe intersections; I supported the bike-to-school initiative, and I continue to work on bus service improvements, since I feel they are an important adjunct to car-free or car-light living.
I’ve worked to promote pedestrian safety via snow removal. As a School Committee member, I’ve pushed the school administration to improve snow removal on crucial pedestrian areas such as the Hardy sidewalk along Lake St, the long stairs at OMS, and the Mountain Ave sidewalk at Stratton. On a personal level our family has put in a lot of effort clearing sidewalks at corners, sanding icy stretches, and shoveling critical sidewalk areas so that all kids can walk safely to school.
I also attended the Master Planning session at Town Hall and spoke up for walking and biking to businesses and to school.
Thus far many of my efforts have been expended on the west end of town, since that’s what I know best. The many hills here have made walking more of a focus. In the future I will continue to support other community efforts such as yours to promote pedestrian and biking safety, including along Mass Ave, as well as working with our other town officials to improve things such as the Park Avenue crosswalk by the Water Tower. In my ideal world, all of Arlington would become pedestrian and biking friendly.
Paul Schlichtman Response:
Thanks for writing.
When I came onto the school committee in 2001, I was a proponent of the Safe Routes to School program. Arlington was one of the first two municipalities in the US to participate in the program, and Arlington’s success enabled the program to flourish across the country.
SInce then, the town and school department have worked to add sidewalks, signage, and other safety features around our schools. We need to continue to make progress every year, and work with the Traffic Advisory Committee and the selectmen to make Arlington a safer place to walk.
Our new student assignment plan has buffer zones that include Massachusetts Avenue in East Arlington. Ottoson students from East Arlington are encouraged to use the MBTA bus to get to school. For that reason, we need to make it safe to cross the avenue, and I support a NO vote on Question 1 – for a safer Mass. Ave.
There have been some issues with the reliability of the westbound 77 and 79 bus during the morning, making it less attractive for students heading to Ottoson and the high school. We need to continue to work with Rep. Garballey (who came to our assistance) and the MBTA to ensure sufficient reliable service to encourage our children to use public transportation.
I would also encourage the selectmen to increase enforcement of laws that promote pedestrian safety, including requirements to stop at crosswalks, bylaw requirements calling for the shoveling of sidewalks after a snowstorm, and parking regulations pertaining to bus stops, crosswalks, and parking on sidewalks.
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