Alewife traffic issues

Six months ago, I shared with you some thoughts about traffic in the Alewife area.  Here’s an update.

Businesses on Cambridge Park Drive have recently been in touch with Senator
Tolman about their traffic concerns and he has convened two useful meetings.

Cambridge Park Drive is the corporate cul-de-sac that runs between
Bertucci’s and Summer Shack into the “Triangle”, the area between the
commuter rail tracks and the Alewife reservation.

A number of significant buildings have gone up on Cambridge Park Drive and
roughly 500 cars exit the cul-de-sac in the afternoon peak hour.  It is a
tremendous fight for these cars each day as they push past cut-through
traffic and short light cycles onto Route 2.  The intersection behind
Bertucci’s frequently becomes a grid-locked free-for-all.  The traffic is a
major constraint on further expansion in the area.

The experiences of these businesses heighten longstanding concerns that many
of us have had about the consequences of development in the Triangle and
also in the “Quadrangle” — the adjacent area bounded by Concord Ave,
Brighton Street, the commuter tracks and the Freshpond parkway.

Senator Tolman’s involvement has been helpful in focussing attention on the
ongoing study being conducted by the state Central Transportation Planning
Staff on how to improve the Rt 2/16 intersection and how to improve bus
access to Alewife.

The 2/16 intersection area was ranked 9th worst in the state in a study
recently mentioned in the Globe.   Seven of the areas ahead of it were on Rt
93, so Rt. 93 aside, the intersection is the second worst in the state.

Basically, the engineers agree that the options for improvement are very
limited. The wetlands around the intersection make it virtually impossible
to expand the footprint of the intersection.  Additionally, the congestion
on all roadways and intersections surrounding the main intersection limit
the benefits achievable by improving the intersection.  As additional
background, I’ve attached a copy of my earlier post on the subject.

We can’t put many more cars through the intersection — the question is how
to get cars out, by shifting the flows to other times of day or offering
better bicycle, pedestrian and transit alternatives.

The results of the CTPS study on bus access (which includes improving the
intersection) are expected in the fall.  There is also a pending study on
bike and pedestrian issues around Alewife which the MAPC should complete in
the reasonably near future.

Senator Tolman and I will continue to follow this issue closely and work to
improve the situation.  Above all, we will seek to protect the neighborhoods
in the area from any changes that might make a bad problem worse.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.