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UPDATED March 23: The town on March 15 was the host for the third public open house for the Mass. Ave./Appleton project. Final concept plans, resulting from multiple rounds of public engagement, input and goal setting sessions, were presented, showing designs for corridor improvements to the corridor.

View the presentation, final concept plans, and share your feedback >>

The following was reported eralier:

The Select Board has approved a letter of intent for further MassWorks funding for the Mass. Ave./Appleton intersection, seeking as much as $5 million for the project. Two board members expressed concerns about parking.

The vote at the Feb. 27 meeting was 4-0. Steve DeCourcey recused because of a potential conflict of interest.

Arlington’s Department of Community and Planning Development and Stantec Consulting Services requested the letter of intent --a document outlining the understanding between two or more parties that they intend to formalize in a legally binding agreement.

In the Mass. Ave./Appleton Street Safety and Accessibility Corridor Draft Study presented to the board, Stantec Consulting Services looked at the intersection, where a cyclist died in May 2020

The consultant said it balanced all activities conducted in this stretch of roadway and is designing a place where all know how to behave and interact, accommodating all parties as best as possible. Stantec conducted a full survey of the entire area, aiming to implement trade-offs and working with Arlington’s police and fire departments to further ensure safety.

Select Board logo, 2019

According to the study, the improvements aim to protect all roadway users, specifically to:

  • Reduce vehicle speeds along the corridor;
  • Increase visibility at intersections;
  • Prioritize safe travel for all ages; and
  • Simplify navigation.

The plan aims to repurpose sidewalk space, which will:

  • Create a separated bicycle facility;
  • Retain parking on the north curb for local businesses;
  • Create left-turn lanes; and
  • Retain streets where possible.

At the meeting, Planning Director Claire Ricker presented an update of these improvements following the death of Charlie Proctor, who was hit by a car whose driver was attempting to turn left on Appleton Street from Mass. Ave.

“It had been a troublesome intersection, with flashing red lights, sharp angles, a busy student crossing and significant solar glare, especially in the afternoon, used by high-speed bikers, drivers and public transit,” said Ricker.

In 2021, temporary safety measures were put into effect for about a year to control vehicle speed, left turns onto Appleton and to reduce the impact on street parking. To make long-range improvements, Arlington contracted with Stantec in May 2022 to design permanent infrastructures to the intersection, explained Ricker.

“We’re now looking for construction funding for this project, to start in May. We hope to get the Select Board’s support to move ahead with the design of this project,” added Ricker.

The initial estimated project cost is $3 million to $5 million. “If it gets funded, it covers the entire amount,” said Aleece D’Onofrio of Stantec.

Select Board feedback

Board Chair Len Diggins said, “It’s a beautifully comprehensive plan. I like the crosswalk at the rocks, because the alignment is better than what we currently have, and I like the plaza area.”

Board member John Hurd expressed frustration at the lack of parking on both sides of the street: “The lights will prevent fatal injuries and accidents. We heard from businesses that they’ll be negatively impacted by a reduction in parking.”

Board member Diane Mahon concurred: “I thought the parking issue was already done. It seems like we’re back to square one.”

Board member Eric Helmuth said: “The concern about parking will be a continued discussion. I like that we also make it safer for pedestrians, not just cars and bikes. Lots of students are let out at Ottoson, and I look at this broadly as a safety issue for kids. I like that it takes the neighborhood view in a positive way that benefits the neighborhood, businesses and residents. There’s a lot to like here.”

Watch the Feb. 27 meeting on ACMi:

June 22, 2022: Friedman votes to pass bond bill that includes Appleton

This news summary by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert was published Tuesday, March 7, 2023, and updated March 23 following the March 15 presenttation meeting.

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