According to MassDOT engineers, the project to reconstruct Belmont Street and Trapelo Road is 80% complete. It is on budget (total cost $17.1 million), but is approximately 9 months behind schedule.
The major reason for delay early in the project was the identification (through test pit excavation) of old underground utilities that required redesign of the new drainage piping for the road. More recently, the delays in the Cushing Square redevelopment have held up final paving — the town has sought to avoid digging up Cushing Square for new utility service needed by the development after the final pavement is down. However, if the developer does not get his utilities in before May or June, the pavement will have to go down regardless and the developer will bear responsibility for repaving.
The project is now scheduled to complete by July 2016. The MBTA very much wants its diesel buses back for use in other parts of the system, so MassDOT has final completion of the project on the revised schedule as a high priority.
Over the next few months, the following major tasks remain to be completed:
- Finish sidewalks at the east end of the project.
- Complete installation of traffic islands in the segment along Oakley Country Club.
- Put down final pavement and road markings between Cushing Square and the East End of the project.
- Complete installation of new poles for the trolley wires and rehang the trolley wires.
There are a number of loose ends that still need to be completed:
- Road markings on the west end of the project could not be completed before the weather got cold — that includes bike lane definition.
- A number of signals from School Street east have not been activated because Verizon has to move some utility wires that are too close to the new mast arms.
- There are still some defective sidewalk panels that need to be replaced.
- At a number of intersections where signal wires were installed late, temporary asphalt sidewalk pavement needs to be replaced with concrete.
One major design problem is still pending resolution. The intersection at Cushing Square (Common/Trapelo) is still not working as intended. The old intersection design stopped traffic going north on Common while traffic going south on Common had green and vice versa. This approach wasted intersection time which could be allocated to service traffic moving east and west on Trapelo Road. The intended new design will allow simultaneous straight north and south movements on Common Street and include a short left turn only phase for Common Street.
When the new design was implemented last year, mass confusion resulted because drivers coming north on Common Street did not understand that the new left turn signal for them meant a hard left on to Trapelo. They saw the easy curve that one takes going straight on Common Street north as a left turn, so they were making the straight movement when the left turn signal was on, heading them right into cars turning left from Common Street south bound.
After a couple of dangerous weeks, engineers gave up and reverted to the old signal timing, but the result has been backups on Trapelo Road at Common Street. Over the past few months, engineers have added a number of new signs and road markings to clarify that the left turn from Common street north bound is the hard left onto Trapleo, not the easy left going straight on Common. If it appears that motorists understand the new markings, a second attempt will be made to move the more efficient planned design.
Summary of March 15 Meeting and Responses to Comments
As noticed here and elsewhere, a meeting was hold on March 15, 2016 from 6:30 – 9:00PM in the Third Floor Gallery in the Homer Building, 19 Moore Street, Belmont.
After a summary of the project status, most of the meeting was devoted to discussion of concerns and suggestions for the project. The table below summarizes the comments and responses. Please feel free to make additional comments further below. Engineers will be reviewing this post.
|Sidewalks should not be left open in dangerous condition.||Agreed, at the East of the project last fall, sidewalks were left open way too long due to project scheduling considerations. The remaining sidewalk work should be completed without delays.|
|Traffic is diverting to Belmont Street and side Streets.||There are many factors causing that, including Google and Waze routing. But if, once project is done, there are problems with cut through traffic anywhere, the Town will be responsive to those problems. This is a perennial type of problem and there are many solutions, including signs prohibiting turns on to side streets during rush hour.|
|The Common/Trapelo intersection is still not working right. There are backups on Trapelo and cars coming north on Common are still not following the rules.||Agreed. This is the largest remaining design problem — the planned design is not fully implemented and the engineers are still working on it.|
|The signal lights are too high and hard to look at with the sun behind them. Could lower lights like the old ones be installed.||Yes, they are high to avoid conflicts with the trolley wires, but the engineers may be able to put in place shades around the light to improve the visibility in sun conditions.|
|The light turning on to Mill Street from Trapelo West Bound doesn’t seem to be working right.||The engineers will review the performance of this light. All signals are still being reviewed and tuned|
|The lights should be energy efficient LED’s||They are.|
|What about the signals that are inoperative at the east end of the project.||Activation of those signals has been delayed by necessary wire moves that only Verizon can do. Verizon is finally on site and all new signals should operative by May.|
|Cars seem to be going the wrong way around the Island turning into Slade from Trapelo||That is news but not acceptable. Engineers will review signage there.|
|The bus stop island near Oakley is treacherous and the sidewalk is incomplete.||Apologies — again waiting to finalize signal work due to Verizon delays. Sidewalks cannot be set until the signal work is done. Will look at interim paving.|
|There is a lot of confusion about where the bus stops are. They just changed them again.||Yes, the MBTA has had the intention to consolidate and improve stops since 2009, but has been held up by this project. Actually, last week, the MBTA was out advising on final placement of signs. This should stabilize soon.|
|The curb cut in front of the car wash has been narrowed with the result that many motorists are crossing the curb and damaging their vehicles.||Fair concern. Engineers will review.|
|Some cars seem to be treating the bike lane as a second lane.||Final striping is not complete anywhere in the project. The final paving coat went down too late last fall west of Cushing Square to complete painting. When the parking stalls are painted next to the bike lane, cars should get the idea. Paving is still to go down from Cushing Square east, so the final paint should make things much better.|