Watertown – Arsenal Street Corridor Study

 The Arsenal Street Corridor Study working group held its first meeting on September 30th, 2015.  You can see meeting documents and sign up for updates at the project website. – ab

Representative Jonathan Hecht has organized a series of meetings focusing on transportation challenges facing the Arsenal Street Corridor in light of pending development.

The first meeting on August 6th touched on the need to improve service on the 70/70A bus; transit needs for Arsenal Street in light of the extensive development that has been proposed; transit needs of Watertown at large; the challenges facing the MBTA with respect to expanding the bus fleet; short and long term strategies to improve transit along the corridor.

In the most recent meeting on December 9th, staff from MBTA Transportation Service Planning gave an extensive presentation on future transportation planning efforts for the corridor, including information about a planned transportation study that should commence in spring 2015.  A general summary of bus service in Watertown was presented and a detailed analysis of the 70/70A, potential near-term improvements and long term outlook for the route.  The role that transportation management associations may play in the future of the corridor was discussed as well.

The conversation around the Arsenal Corridor has been encouraging and progress is being made thanks to the efforts of all involved.

Andrew Bettinelli
Legislative Aide
Office of State Senator William N. Brownsberger


9 replies on “Watertown – Arsenal Street Corridor Study”

  1. In support– Including bus lines on the Arsenal Corridor, and between Watertown and Cambridge, here are at least 4 MBTA bus lines. These buses are delayed at their crossings of the the Parkways (Fresh Pond or Memorial Drive) . One improvement is bus preference at the intersections, even red light tripping. Another approach is bus preference along the entire bus route.

  2. Hi Senator Brownsberger,

    It’s great to see that your office has been working on this issue. I am a somewhat-frequent 70 bus rider; I live in Cambridge and use it for a variety of reasons, from shopping in Watertown and recreation further west in Waltham and Weston. I also have friends who are daily 70 bus commuters, and would love to see the route improved. As Charlie Denison mentioned below, I have a long post about the 70 bus here and I’m glad to see that your staff and the MBTA are looking at similar issues (the crowding/bunching issue really needs to be addressed).

    I hope there will be outreach in the community about this issue; please try to involve the city of Cambridge as well as there are many residents where who rely on this bus and wish it were managed better. One idea is to consider combining the 70A with the 556 bus which serves Waltham Highlands. This bus has a similar service span to the 70A and would provide 70A riders with a faster route downtown than the current hour-long ride between North Waltham and Cambridge, while at the same time simplifying the 70 so that it could be run with better predictability. With the T close to maxed out with its bus fleet at rush hour and continuing increases in ridership, we need to explore how to more efficiently utilize what we have, and uneven headways and bunched buses are anathema to this goal. I know that there are many interested community members who would like better service on this route, and hope that this is something your office can accomplish.

    Thank you for your continued work in bringing better transit to your district and the region as a whole.

    1. The post that you link to is great. The T planners understand the problem with the service bunching the same way you do. They are thinking of ways to break the route up to make it perform better. That was part of the recent conversation. I’m hopeful for progress on this.

  3. The presentation does not address what I think is the easiest problem to solve on the route: the terrible traffic light timing on Arsenal Street by the malls.

    The T needs to get Watertown to fix this mess. Adjacent lights should turn green at about the same time for Arsenal Street, so buses can catch more than one green in a row. And left arrows should not come on when there are no vehicles in the left turn lane.

    I don’t know why the lights were programmed so badly when the street was rebuilt a few years ago. But this is a fix that can make a big difference with a modest effort, without waiting for a study that won’t even start until the spring of 2015.

  4. Hello,
    I think that Bus 70 and 70a try to do too much. Has anyone considered breaking the route into pieces that would connect with a faster route; e.g., the section from Rte 128 to Waltham Center could use the old central Mass railroad bed as a trolley line serving North Waltham that would interchange with the commuter rail at either Waltham Center or at Clematis Brook, from that previous interchange; another section would be that from the previous interchange to Watertown Square where it would meet the electric trolley bus (71), from Waterotwn Square a circular route would go down Arsenal Street and return via Greenough Boulevard where it would intersect with a future railroad station at the junction of Rte 20/Soldiers Field Road and the Mass Pike and commuter rail; the final section from the previous new intermodal station would service the remainder of the route into Central Square. What might be good to investigae is the proposed Boston West station at the old Beacon Railyard in Allston.

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