Slow progress continues in efforts to address traffic issues in the Alewife area, one of the most congested areas in the state. Expectations for improvement should remain low.
In April, the Central Transportation Planning Staff completed the second phase of its analysis of traffic in the area. The observations from the first phase painted a discouraging picture of the challenge of congestion in Alewife — the traffic goes in so many different directions that it is hard to imagine a transit solution that would alleviate a significant share of the congestion.
The second phase of the study verified the traffic analysis in the first phase and studied the bus routing in the area to see if any marginal improvements were possible. Generally, the study found that the bus routing through Arlington and Lexington makes sense and offered only very minor suggestions for change:
- reducing the number of bus stops to streamline service (a general suggestion);
- perhaps adjusting the 67 bus route to run more directly through certain neighborhoods (a route segment that would possibly be too hilly and objectionable to some)
- perhaps coordinating the 67 with LEXPRESS bus in Lexington, although two bus trips are not popular
- possibly adding a peak period shuttle to Lexington (a suggestion to the town of Lexington to apply for funding)
The study did not give explicit attention to the possibility of bus routing from Belmont. Belmont accounts for only 2.7% of the cars in the Alewife Station garage, while Arlington and Lexington account respectively for 13.1% and 14.4%.
The most actionable recommendations from the study involve streamlining of the Route 2/16 intersection (which would benefit both motorists and bus riders). These recommendations came out of meetings last year. The recommendations can be expected to modestly improve service times at this intersection. Mass Highway’s Project Review Committee has approved the recommendations, which are relatively inexpensive (under $500,000), and is negotiating a design contract. After design, the project will need to be placed on the Transportation Improvement Plan, but it will probably not have to compete with other projects under the regional funding target — it would go through as a safety project. The timeline remains unclear for this process.