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UPDATED June 9:  The town of Arlington, working with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), plans to redesign the roadway layout at Lafayette Street and Boulevard Road ― a historically dangerous intersection ― to improve transit as well as pedestrian and cyclist safety.

A rectangular rapid flashing beacon and other signs are expected to be installed at the Lafayette crosswalk to preclude left turns from Lafayette to northbound Mass. Ave. Such beacons alert drivers and cyclists that a pedestrian is crossing the street. This will help with pedestrian crossing and provide traffic calming near Lafayette at Boulevard.

Lafayett crosswalk. / Word on StreetAdam Auster's Word on the Street blog portrays “beacons” overlaid on photo of the Lafayette crosswalk from Town of Arlington report.The Select Board unanimously approved this safety improvement at its June 5 meeting. The vote was 4-0, with Steve DeCourcey absent.

This redesign could be put into effect this fall, according to a slide presentation by MBTA Senior Project Manager Phillip Cherry. 

Arlington’s new senior transportation planner, John Alessi, said that it will not affect parking.

Board Chair Eric Helmuth said, “I appreciate adding the traffic-calming measures.”

24/7 bus lane voted down

However, the board did not approve a proposed shared bus/bike lane near the same intersection because two parking spaces would need to be removed to make space for buses.

Board member John Hurd said, “I have trouble removing parking spaces, and I’m not convinced that queueing 24/7 now justifies taking out parking spaces. Not having those two parking spaces could be significant if a developer wants to go forward with plans. However, I’d be open at that time to hear the rationale as to why it’s important to take out those two spaces.” 

The MBTA had recommended a 24/7 bus lane on Mass. Ave. from Alewife Brook Parkway to Lafayette Street, and to extend the existing inbound shared bus/bike lane from Boulevard Road to Alewife Brook Parkway. (The current bus lane is 6 to 9 a.m. only, when traffic is most intense.)

In a slide presentation to the board, Cherry tried to show that “bus lanes can help alleviate crowded conditions on buses by reducing running time and allowing for more trips provided with the same operations resources.” 

To see the full slide presentation, click here >>  

Watch the June 5 meeting on ACMi:

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This news summary by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert was published Thursday, June 8, 2023, and updated June 9, 2023, to add an ACMI vidoe window.

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