Video of talk
Summary of talk
The bad news first: Belmont is not an island. Most of the traffic on Belmont roads is cut-through traffic. There is no lawful way for Belmont to block or deter cut-through traffic. There is every reason to believe that the problem will get worse.
There is no single bottleneck that causes cut-through traffic in Belmont – traffic is going from everywhere to everywhere. Some people are commuting to Boston from the western suburbs, but many are commuting from suburb to suburb.
The good news is that we can give Belmont residents better alternatives to sitting in traffic.
We are looking hard at expanding rail service. Rail service in Belmont is so limited that only a few hundred people with very well-defined routines can use it. MassDOT is conducting a rail study that will include the question of whether we can run more frequent service all day long.
There are 5 bus lines that together carry about 4000 riders per day inbound from Belmont. The 73/Waverley line, which runs through the denser side of Belmont, carries roughly three quarters of those riders.
We are seeking to improve the 73 in four ways. First, we are studying the implementation of transit signal priority on Trapelo Road and Belmont Street, so that buses will automatically get a green light at intersections.
Second, the City of Cambridge is getting ready to stripe a dedicated bus lane in front of the Mount Auburn Cemetery to relieve bus congestion there. That was originally planned for this month, but is likely to come later this season.
Third, related to the bus lane, the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation will be retiming the signals where Mount Auburn street crosses Fresh Pond Parkway so that the buses will be able to jump the queue and so that all traffic will move more smoothly.
Finally, we are working on a plan to improve the geometry of that intersection. Fewer cars will be trapped by the yellow and there will be more green time available to move traffic.
Bike paths are hard to build in every community due to abutter concerns. We need to respect those concerns but get the Belmont Community Path project moving. The pattern in other communities is that once a path is complete, almost all residents, including almost all abutters, are very happy about it.
The state construction funding process is very competitive and transparent. Belmont was successful in that process with Pleasant Street and the Belmont-Trapelo corridor because we brought forward good value propositions.
Belmont has done a good job moving the path project along in the feasibility process, but currently has a very complex and expensive proposal on the table. The proposed path parallels the tracks, but crosses them four times, creating both costs and risks. Representative Rogers and I are working to bring MassDOT and MBTA planners to meet with Belmont planners so that they can sort out a cost-effective design.
While subways do not run through Belmont, many Belmont residents ride the subways. I am very pleased with the plans that the MBTA has set in motion to radically improve subway service. The investments in motion over the next five years will increase Red Line carrying capacity 50% and, over a longer horizon, potentially double Green Line capacity.
Supporting continued progress on all of these projects – rail, bus, path and subway, and others across my district — is a central mission of mine as a state senator.
Historical Posts on Alewife regional problem-solving efforts
Regional Rail Vision
73 Bus Service
- Making Buses Move Faster through Traffic
- Dedicating Asphalt to Bus Lanes
- Mount Auburn Corridor Study — historical posts
- Mount Auburn Street Corridor Study (DCR Page)
Belmont Community Path
- Belmont Community Path (Advisory Committee Page)
- Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (approves state projects)
- Opening of the Belmont to Alewife Path