Belmont/Trapelo Project Update

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.

Comment Response
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.

Published by Will Brownsberger

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

105 replies on “Belmont/Trapelo Project Update”

  1. I don’t want to sound too much like a Debbie Downer, and I realize i have minimal say in how this reconstruction was designed and implemented, but I think the result so far is pretty odd – causes traffic to separate and merge in weird places, the HUGE street signs are ugly and they move when it’s windy and cameras at intersections for Belmont?? Bad enough it’s so expensive to live here- but won’t ” Cushing Square” get torn up by the New building construction if that EVER happens? it worked fine before. Maybe it will work better in the spring. -Cameras? really?

    1. I love the big street signs. It’s a nice change from the usual Massachusetts practice of either having no signs or signs so small that you can’t read them.

      1. I also love the new signs but has any noticed that they are seemingly not all hung properly? One would expect the text on the sign to completely horizontal but this seems to not the case on many. Nit picky for sure but if you’re going to do something, do it right….

  2. Are there any plans for a properly marked bike path? It is extremely frustrating to see the road narrowed by the islands instead of a bike path.

  3. Thank you for the update. I have another concern regarding Trapelo Road at the Mill Street lights. There is a blatant disregard for the stop line, with the result that drivers coming in from Waltham, end up blocking the intersection. Drivers coming down Mill Street then have no where to go when their light turns green. I think Police Presence is needed there during morning and evening rush hour times, but i believe part of the problem could also be the timing of the new light at Trapelo and Pleasant Streets. Any consideration you could give to this problem would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Blocking the box at Mill Street during both rush hours is a big problem, but it stems from a bottleneck just further east. It seems to me, no hard numbers – just anecdotal from sitting in the traffic, that the eastbound throughput of a vehicles through the Trapelo/Lexington/Star Market lights has been decreased. After this choke point traffic on Trapelo is light until Cushing Square.

      Between Pleasant and Mill Street heading eastbound the behavior of drivers has become increasingly aggressive. There are a lot of vehicles that use the left turn only lane to avoid sitting in line, only to either block traffic turning onto Pleasant, or recklessly cut off traffic continuing further onto Trapelo. Traffic in the right lane has now taken to tailgating to prevent being merged into.

      1. As David says, this project has created a monster at Mill/Pleasant/Lexington Sts. During the morning rush, traffic backs up on Mill (as it used to), but now is a nightmare all the way to Waverly Square. It can take ten minutes to get through! Part of the problem is the new light at Pleasant, which is too responsive to traffic on Pleasant, in my opinion. Trapelo is the main road here, but Pleasant gets a long cycle frequently. Drivers are indeed using the left turn lane for passing those of us waiting (more or less patiently) in the through lane. They then have to cut in to the right lane, or they simply go straight when the turn lane ends. And, as was mentioned, cars coming east from Waltham do block the intersection with Mill–but I don’t really blame them, because if they wait, they will be behind yet another huge load of cars from Mill St. trying to get through Waverly Square.

        We need more throughput on Trapelo Rd. in this area: shorten the light cycles at Pleasant and Lexington and Star Market to allow traffic on Trapelo to flow. Perhaps it’s possible to have this happen only during rush hour? If not, then it needs to be full-time.

  4. I hope this wasn’t the money that was supposed to go to the schools. I will have to move out of Belmont, where I have lived for over 40 years, if we get another property tax increase like the last one. The roads needed to be fixed, but we didn’t need traffic islands with Tahitian girls to meet up traffic flow. I’m not sure Belmont politicians can be trusted with my tax money.

  5. The Project throughout the agony of the past 3 years has been disorganized, sloppy & unprofessional. The Contractor’s performance should be graded as poor on Project Records & should reflect this grade on future bids for MassDot work.

  6. Thanks for the update. There are still original sidewalks to create on the west end- at the bike store and at Arbella Insurance. Sidewalk redo below the movie theater- and a few other places.

  7. Sorry I will be away for the meeting. I just wish Trapelo hadn’t been quite so narrowed down. Several place when the bus stops for passengers, there is no way around it because the middle section is not for car use- who knows why it is so wide.

    1. Thank goodness Watertown exists! I never take Belmont street during rush hour on the way home at night. It’s a nightmare. And I’m furious. If I can attend the public meet I will, but what’s the point?

  8. I often drive westbound on Pleasant Street in the morning, heading to either Trapelo westbound or Lexington Street southbound. I’ve noticed that the Pleasant-Trapelo intersection can get easily gridlocked with east and west bound Trapelo traffic getting stuck in the intersection and blocking traffic coming from Pleasant Street, even though that Pleasant Street traffic has a green light. I’ve seen cars avoid the mess by using the Star Market parking lot as a pass through to avoid the gridlock — which seems very bad but an understandable recourse that people will do if the situation is bad enough. Are there any plans for “don’t block the box” signage or roadway painting or enforcement or better signal coordination?

  9. Dear Will,
    In the project update you state: “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.

    I regularly drive this pattern and it is NO BETTER. Cars in the left lane routinely go STRAIGHT. Even with added signs and markings in the road which I had hoped would improve the situation. They have NOT helped. I am cut off on the left at this intersection and now just expect it.
    I do not feel that this problem has been fixed.
    Nina Barwell

    1. The left turns from common onto trapello may have gotten better, but the issue isn’t resolved. Thanks for pointing that out Nina.

      –Dave Gold

    2. I agree with Nina. The situation is not better, and if they change the lights so that there are simultaneous greens on both side of Common St., it is only a matter of time before there is a serious accident in this intersection. Please do NOT change the lights back.

  10. The prognosis for the Cushing Square development seems poor. The developer, Mr. Starr, keeps asking for delays. It suggests that the bankers are withholding funds. They probably think the project has flaws in regard to revenues, traffic. and air pollution.

    The Selectmen are giving the citizens little information. Could you look into this, and tell us what the real story is?

    1. Could the developer run pipes for the utilities into the vacant lot where the cleaners used to be (on Common St.) *before* the repaving? Just cap them off, ready for whatever hookups they need when the project goes forward.

      It might be more expensive or require more or longer pipes to connect to this location than an optimized design, but that’s the developer’s fault for not being ready, and so they should pay for it.

      The plus side for the rest of us is we get our roads and sidewalks back earlier, and there would be no need for future road cuts (the patches are NEVER as good as the original pavement) and attendant disruption.

  11. Thank you for the update.

    As a bus user, I have noticed the following issues:

    Waiting for the inbound 73 bus in the mornings at the Woodleigh Rd. stop, it is unclear where to stand as the old location is now covered with plantings and a tree. One can stand ahead of this or behind it. It would be helpful to clarify, as the bus drivers don’t seem to know where to stop either.

    More importantly, the outbound Falmouth St. stop has been moved. It was located just before the Falmouth St. corner and is now moved to just after Falmouth St. Drivers routinely park cars in this bus stop location because it’s convenient to the optician, the cleaner, and other businesses. The bus is prevented from stopping at the curb, causing passengers to have to walk between parked cars unsafely, and backing up traffic behind the bus. This is an enforcement matter, but I have never noticed any ticketing here. Either police have to enforce it or they should move the stop back where it was. I never saw any problems with the former location.

    Thank you.

  12. I second the comments made by those complaining about those who “cut through” the Shaw/Star Market’s parking lot. This was a significant problem before and I thought/hoped the new construction would have remedied this. Perhaps the lights aren’t timed correctly (yet?) or people’s old habits die hard. It’s just a matter of time before a pedestrian gets hurt.

    Likewise, I wish there was a way to better enforce drivers not yielding to pedestrians attempting to cross at crosswalks. I would have expected the new crosswalks (which are marked significantly better now than before the project) to make a difference but it seems not to have.

    1. I agree about the Star Market parking lot. They should either design it so there’s no connection between the 2 sides or make it a lot harder to cut through.

      1. You’ve got to be kidding… The resolution to this is to redesign the Rt60/Trapello intersection so that it actually works.

        This should have been redesigned as a light-controlled intersection, coordinated with the lights at the end of Mill St and Lexington St.

  13. I really appreciate the new construction on Trapelo Road. Every time I hear someone complain about road narrowing, I breathe a sigh of relief. Traffic is moving fluidly and at a more reasonable pace. Walking on the sidewalks is sooooooo much more pleasant than it was 3 years ago. Still there are issues that I hope get addressed. I hope to come to the meeting, but a few observations: 1) the outbound bus stop at Slade/Trapelo, when walking back to the lighted intersection via the crosswalk, a person is very vulnerable because of the curve – cars approach this right turn from Slade very rapidly. I actually saw a woman pull into the turning lane (left from the inbound Trapelo lane!). 2) I have been on several buses that don’t pull over into the bus stop area, which does block traffic – compounding people’s complaints about road narrowing. Buses need to fully pull over. 3) I have been on buses that pull over into the bike lane and have driven over the curb in one case. In general the lack of bike lane now is very dangerous – people are whipping around the right side of cars just because they “can”. The woman hit at Trapelo and Hawthorne was a victim of this mentality. There should be some a curbing that separates bike lane from car travel lane at these major crosswalk bump-outs. Especially at Trapelo and Hawthorne, and in Cushing too. The bump-outs were greater before the project and this prevents the right side whip-around. 4) Thank goodness for crosswalk lights!! They need some tweaking in spots but glad they are back on line! 5) Can we get the old bus stops removed?? There are 4 stops now between Cushing and CVS on Trapelo – it’s a little absurd to go one block and then stop again a block later. Enough said. Thanks!!

  14. There are numerous places in Cushing Square where the sidewalks are not complete (near Vicki Lee’s, Marc & Toni’s)… I assume that these are still on the “to-do” list?

    Also, in the Cushing Square intersection, just in front of the convenient store, the placement of the button to request crossing at Trapelo is oddly placed. It is set back several feet from the sidewalk. To reach it, one must step onto the mulched area. During the winter, there was often snow piled up in front of it. The sidewalk should be extended to reach the pole that holds that button.

    1. Yes, seconded — thanks Will. I may not agree with some of your solutions but always appreciate your transparency and informational updates. This is rare (clearly we receive nothing from the selectmen on a regular basis).

  15. I am disappointed that the Belmont Selectmen keep giving the developer extensions on securing financing, when it seems clear that lenders at the least are uneasy about the project. I wonder whether you can shed some light on the politics of this and whether the entire project should go back to the drawing board

      1. Thanks, but could you pass on our concern? The three Belmont Selectmen are close-mouthed and give us little information about the Cushing Square Redevelopment Project.

        1. Like many people in the community, I have expressed my concern about this situation to the Selectmen. I know they know how people feel.

          It’s a tough one for them and they have probably been advised by their attorneys that speaking about the transaction could have negative consequences. They will just have to get through it.

      2. I wish you would get in that loop. Cushing is in Belmont but half of its customers and retail revenues come from Watertown a few yards away. Yet we in Watertown don’t even have ears much less a voice. This fiasco has gone on long enough and it’s affecting both towns.

  16. I was surprised to see that the walk signal on Belmont Street between Oakley Road and Payson Street was retained. This was put in in about 1980 for use by Our Lady of Mercy parishioners and the church has been closed and demolished. It seemed odd to put in a new walk signal in its place now that there doesn’t seem to be the need.

  17. My major concern is the bike lanes. Right now in most places there doesn’t seem to be much room for the bike lanes between the travel lane and the parking spots. Yet the parking spots seem to be painted quite wide. Of course, a parked car or truck with take up as much width as it needs to, no matter where the stripes are. But I’d love to see parking striping that encourages parked cars to get close to the curb, and bike lane striping that gives plenty of room for bikes.

  18. There was an island on Common Street near the gas station which made walking across Common Street much safer. In the past several pedestrians have been injured at this location. Will this island be replaced in the new design of Cushing Square?

      1. Cushing Square is now a complete fail from a pedestrian point of view. The plan is to spend millions developing a walkable retail/residential complex, yet no one remembered to plan for foot traffic? No chicanes, no extended crossing paths, no islands?

        1. Actually, a lot of thought was given to pedestrian safety up and down the corridor. If you remember the road, there was really much less for pedestrians.

          But the complaint is noted. I agree that in Cushing the old islands offered more safety on the Common crossings.

  19. As a driver on Trapelo over many years the new design is both good and bad. The good is that there is a light at some major intersections that certainly were needed(Pleasant St for instance). Also people can get across the street:> With that, the signage needs to be updated. There are many many people with road rage after being in two lanes(and they are in the left most lane) who seem to not understand that their lane now ends and they must merge..what I see is many cars riding up the right most side in the parking lane(which will also be a bike lane?) to take a right onto White St..or cut off others in the predominant lane or left most lane when the road narrows. This is suppose to calm traffic but I see alot of nasty driving as it is not clear until the last minute(my opinion). Please put signage further back for road narrows or turn lane only…this may:> help with much of the frustration and road rage from drivers.

  20. Two Issues at Trapelo/Slade & Harriet Intersection:
    1) The length of bus stop in front of Domino’s (heading to Cushing Sq) is sized for a small car, not a bus, so bus stops in travel lane,blocks cars trying to move through light — backups to fire station — backups in CVS parking lot.
    2) Traveling west on Trapelo at Slade- there should be an additional lower-height signal across the intersection (similar to low height signal across intersection when waiting on Harriet and many other intersections along Trapelo). Drivers must look up to sky to watch for signal changes losing peripheral vision of road and pedestrians.

  21. The trolley bus catenary wire support poles were changed fairly recently, actually only a few years ago. The poles around my house I regard as fairly new. Are you implying that the poles are going to be replaced AGAIN? Wouldn’t this be wasteful?

  22. I have asked officers to pay attention to this new bus stop location.

    Belmont Police Department

  23. Thanks for keeping on top of MassDot. I am glad the electric buses did not find themselves on EBAY to fill a hole in the T’s budget. We need people like you to breathe your hot breath down their backs, not to give them first degree burns but to keep them on the straight and narrow.

  24. The intention to consolidate the bus stops is laughable at this point. They’ve ADDED stops along trapelo. They seemingly haven’t removed anything because the bus is stopping at every stop they were before the project started and now with the addition of the stops they’ve added.

    I may sound like a broken record, but it’s because you and the MBTA sound the same. How hard is it to remove a sign post? This is a 17 million dollar job with the intent of improving traffic flow and yet again, i’m writing to explain how it’s gotten more convoluted. The public is tired of it. Do what you said you were going to do and remedy the situation. I’m tired of having to rely on a transit line that is an absolute nightmare during rush hour because they’ve failed to complete the job they set out to do.

    1. My wife rides the line every day and I sometimes ride it when I don’t bike.

      I understand your frustration and I don’t ask for patience. But I do think things will resolve between now and mid-summer at the project end.

  25. Did this project consider how to Facilitate predictable and faster MBTA bus service?

  26. Any chance we could coordinate the painting of lanes with Cambridge and Watertown on the eastern end? I cross the road right at the town line and cars often zoom up to the Belmont line, two abreast, trying to race into the single lane near the Belmont line. Most cars are so intent on getting into the lane that they don’t look for pedestrians at the crosswalk. It seems like the problem starts at the Mt Auburn intersection further down the street where the street “looks” like a two lane street.

    1. This is a truly perennial issue and comes down to relationship management between the utilities, the municipalities and the contractors. We can add rules, but the problem is fundamentally one of deciding where to deploy finite resources.

  27. “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.”

    No surprises here…..

    This is because the engineers have made the up-hill left turn from Trapello eastbound too hard for most people. The size of the island needs to be reduced and a gentle curve added to the east side of the island (if indeed an island is warranted here at all. The prior approach worked fine for most residents)

    Recommendation: Remove or significantly reduce the new island.

  28. Visibility of Pedestrians
    The intersection of Slade at Trapelo – the passengers getting off at the relocated bus stop outbound on Trapelo, now 1) have to back track to get to the intersection to cross, 2) are not visible to cars approaching for a right hand turn from Slade St onto Trapelo – *this is a serious conflict point*. With both a 6 foot fence, untrimmed trees and a stop sign that is around-the-corner, pedestrians crossing in the crosswalk are *not* visible until a very short distance to a car approaching. Cars never stop on the stop line, and this stop line is place a few feet from the crosswalk.

    I suggest returning the bus stop to it’s original location before the intersection (going outbound) – this spot does has less parking spaces for commercial, so more spaces would be available for those patrons, and frequency of potential crashes with pedestrians would be reduced.

    On the same subject, the idea that the MBTA has in locating the buses on the far side of intersections is painful for riders. If buses pull over as they are supposed to, then bus stops on the near side of an intersection, should not disrupt traffic. Many times I could be off the bus by several minutes if I didn’t have to wait for the bus to go through the intersection. I realize this is a bit of mixed bag – so, I think each intersection should be looked at uniquely with respect to this planning principle. I can imagine some cases where it would be better on the far side of an intersection.

    1. Noted about Slade — they are looking at that.

      As to the bus stops, the T held meetings on these stop changes several years ago and their goal is to streamline bus service. That does always mean that people have to walk a little further. But once they are on the bus, they should experience fewer delays. It’s a balancing act between those two considerations.

  29. Bus Stops

    The bus stops need to be fixed ASAP. We are stopping at a ridiculous amount of stops on the 73 now. The MBTA themselves don’t even know where to put the signs. Last week, I was on the bus and the bus driver stopped and instructed the MBTA employee, who was putting up signs at the Starbucks/Cushing stop, that the stop was not going to be there any more. HOW is that possible?!

    And, taking away the stop in Cushing Square at the Ben Franklin, is a mistake. It needs to be there for pedestrians. Bus stops need to be near the intersections to facilitate easy crossings. It’s unfair to have people walk a block or two back into the commercial center.

    1. I completely agree. The stop locations should benefit the customer — the rider. Moving them a block away from Cushing center is a big mistake.

      Interesting, I made a comment about the constantly moving bus stops to a driver, and he said that it wasn’t the MBTA’s responsibility for location, but the town’s. Can that be true? I find that hard to believe.

    2. Not to debate the stop choices, but it is clear there is confusion right now as stops have moved in the last week or two. We are talking to the T about this. Hopefully, they will settle all the changes and the drivers will better know what to do very soon.

  30. I would like to see a right turn only from Windsor Ave onto Belmont Street especially during afternoon rush hour. I have almost been hit by people cheating the traffic light on School st using Windsor Ave making a left or go to School street in Belmont from Windsor Ave.

    Also from School street in Watertown will there be an Left turn assist from School street in Watertown to Belmont st? Having the light stay green sightly longer on the Watertown side at rush hour will be a big help with this intersection.

  31. “The Common/Trapelo intersection is still not working right… cars coming north on Common are still not following the rules.”

    I can confirm this is still a problem even with the nice big signs – I almost got hit twice last week when I was in the right lane going straight on Common, and someone in the left lane did not turn on Trapelo but tried to go straight on Common too. Both times I honked and the person had no clue they’d done anything wrong.

  32. Before construction began, the Mill St./Trapelo Rd intersection had been recently reengineered to make the right lane a right turn only onto Trapelo west-bound; and the left lane a single lane turning left onto Trapelo east-bound.

    This worked really well. Much better than it was prior to that. And much better than it works now. Now we have too many people jockeying for the right lane to continue straight (east) on Trapelo. Many of them run right down to the end of the lane at Pleasant St., ignoring the left-turn-only signage to continue straight and force a merge into the right lane.

    And is there a reason there isn’t a left turn arrow for the left-turn lane at Pleasant St.? People sit there wondering if it’s safe to proceed and don’t know that the oncoming traffic is stopping/has stopped for a red.

  33. Rush hour has become a long slog on Belmont street going North (?) from the Star Market in Cambridge to Grove street. Sorro to repeat myself. I understand the need for parking along the curb and bike lanes but we had two lanes before and now we have only one until very late on Belmont street, a few yards before the traffic light. Has anyone thought about pollution caused by stopped cars? Is biking even healthy along this route?

    There is a new bump out at the corner of Grove and Belmont turning right on Belmont coming from Grove. Cars used to be able to turn right if they were in the right lane and there was no incoming traffic. Now because of the bump out, we have only one lane, another huge hold up and more pollution.

  34. there are unfinished sidewalks at the west end of Trapelo also- along bike store and Arbella crossing. I hope they will pave these as well and not leave them with just black top or dirt as they are now.

  35. Regarding bus stop locations, are you saying it’s just up to the MBTA where they are? The removal of the Cushing Square stops — inbound before the Square at Williston Rd., and outbound past the Square toward Poplar St– is very inconvenient for riders and will certainly hurt local businesses. The explanation for the inbound move was the coming (we hope) Cushing Village construction. NO need to move the outbound stop!! Please see what can be done to change that decision.


    1. Right now everything is a mess, but when things stabilize the stop relocations are calculated to produce overall faster run times on the bus line. People will have to walk a little further, but they will get a faster ride while they are on the bus.

      Moving stops past intersections is standard technique for speeding bus lines.

      I’m reluctant to push back on this particular move until we see how the situation settles out.

  36. There needs to be enforcement of cars parking in the newly located bus stop between Falmouth and Springfield Sts westbound.

  37. Hi Will – on another totally different aspect, is there any plans to m ake sure all the new tree plantings are regularly watered? If it ends up being anything like Rt. 60/Pleasant St. many of them will not make it.

  38. The MBTA has been contemplating the final locations of the stops along the 73 route for some time. There were several public meetings related to stop consolidation as part of the MBTA’s Key Bus Routes initiative back in 2012. You can view a map of the new stop locations here. I have requested an update from the MBTA to see whether this map matches the final Belmont/Trapelo layout.

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

  39. Hi Will – When making the left turn from Poplar St onto Trapelo Rd, the placement of a mail collection box right on the corner makes it very hard to see the oncoming cars coming up the hill. If this box were moved back from the corner, it would greatly improve visibility and reduce the potential for accidents.

  40. The sign hanging in air from traffic arm for left turn lane northbound on Common should specify Trapelo RD Left Turn only. It is the sign more important than one on a ground pole to the right of intersection. Left Turn only is not enough information on that sign.

  41. A lot of good suggestions here already, please no more islands they are dangerous as is, I wish they would take them out and leave in the flat cement patch in the middle if they feel the need to narrow the road, I agree the traffic lights are to high can’t see them with your visor down and the sun coming up at Cushing Square. They should have left it alone and just put in the bike lane. They made the traffic worst. I avoid this road at traffic hours.

  42. As a store owner in Cushing Square I see several cars pulled over every day for not going through the intersection correctly, the latest just moments ago.

    Some observations. These are basically the same I have posted here for months as not much has changed other than adding signs I find cryptic:

    In northern direction the lanes and signs are a mess. Cars a pulled over at such frequency that it is clear that people are unsure of where they are supposed to drive.

    In southern direction speeds are up because of the wide roadway. By a lot!

    In both directions there are few people driving take left turns.

    For pedestrians crossing streets it has become far more uncomfortable than during the old design. Sight angles are bad and there always seem to be cars coming from behind.. Distances are large since islands were removed.

    There are NO facilities for people on bikes. In fact, Cushing Square is squeeze point on Common Street where people on bikes are completely forced into car traffic.

    My recommendations to improve the intersection:
    Remove the additional lanes Common Street and bring back the center islands for traffic calming.

    Add space for people on bikes on Common Street crossing Trapelo Road. This is actually a squeeze point at the moment (this is easy if the additional lanes are removed).

    Activate the walk signals automatically as they are now as part of the light cycle and use the crossing buttons to add safety on demand: get more time and close the intersection in all directions

    To the designers: try crossing the pedestrian crossings on a rainy night. It is frightening!

  43. One more observation:

    The left turn lane from Trapelo Road Outbound onto Common Street Southbound has a very minimal utility because 99% of traffic use Belmont Street instead. Right now the most common use of the lane seems to be to illegally pass cars in the main lane.

    I actually have some proof: I took some pictures on a snowy day this winter on a day the road had not been plowed showing how little this lane was used.

    In fact it is used so little that this turn could be made illegal like in Central Square in Cambridge with a large sign at Belmont Street/Trapelo Road informing drivers. Locals would quickly learn and non-locals follow maps or navigation systems anyway.

    And just like that, there would be room for a rescue island for people walking, expanded, bike lanes and traffic would flow more orderly and slowly – probably with higher throughput for cars – through the intersection, which should be the goal.

  44. I’m writing to agree with comments made about the intersection of Mill Street and Trapelo. Coming down Mill Street, the right-hand lane on Mill seems “intended” both for turning right onto Trapelo Road and also for turning left onto the lane that leads to Waverley Square; it seems that the only intended use of the left hand lane on Mill is for the use of cars turning left onto Pleasant Street. This puts considerable burden on the right hand lane of Trapelo Road, heading into Waverley. The situation is further complicated by the cars coming in from Waltham that clog the intersection if they are trying to beat the light, while the traffic in that lane is already backed up from Waverley Square. Many drivers coming down Mill Street see the lightly-used left-hand lane as a speedy way to get onto Trapelo, and it’s an easy mistake to make; some will assume that the cars in the right-hand lane plan to turn right and head into Waltham. (As indeed some do.)

    Cars in a hurry take the left hand lane on Mill, figuring they can squeeze right before they reach the Pleasant Street turn. It can get ugly.

    There must be some way to reconfigure the lights so that, when cars make the left-hand turn onto Trapelo, there is space in the right hand lane for them to move into. Additionally, perhaps some signage on Mill St. might help or instructions painted onto the road itself. Or figure out a way to allow two lanes on Trapelo Road that go into Waverley. (There appear to be three lanes into Waverley when you get close to the Lexington St/Star Market area. But of course one of them is for tuning onto Lexington and one is for turning into Star.) Anyway, it’s a mess.

    On a positive note, I appreciate the large street signs. Wish they were on all major roads.

  45. Lately, as final striping of Trapelo Road and Common Street comes nearer I have been paying even more attention to how the intersection could be improved.

    Some more observations:
    Common Street going north. T right lane does not even point at Cushing Avenue: there is a convenience store directly across the street. Even the left lane aims slightly to the right of Cushing Avenue.

    No wonder people are misreading the intersection: you have to squeeze hard right not to go to the road that is slightly left of where you are pointing but to the road left of that one.

    The entrance to Cushing Avenue should be reduced – through a combination of planters/flex poles/paint – to the absolute minimum for a truck to pass. The painted lane could be as narrow as 8ft, with more physical space available, of course. This would provide an optical cue that this is not a main road and it would recover lost street space for people. Parking would be minimally affected as this would only affect the first few feet of Cushing Avenue.

    The bumpout in front of the UPS store should be increased – this could be done with paint and flex posts to slow cars that fly around the corner from Trapelo Road to Common Street North. This area would also serve as a rescue space for people on bicycles who get squeezed out by people driving straight on Common Street.

  46. We received an update from the MBTA regarding some of the confusion about the location of bus stops along the 71. According to the MBTA, riders are using the new stops for the most part, but are sometimes waiting at the old stops. Whether someone gets picked up at the old location depends on the driver. Long-time drivers who know all the old locations and many of the passengers will generally stop if folks are waiting at the old locations, while newer drivers or those who haven’t driven this route a lot aren’t necessarily looking for passengers at the old stops. It may seem like drivers are stopping even more frequently than they used to until everyone adapts to the new locations. I have posted a list of final stop locations and current status of the stops along the route.

  47. Hello Mr. Brownsberger,

    It’s been 7 weeks since the community meeting in which many concerns were raised and apparent “review” action items taken. Considering construction has resumed, have there been any concrete developments for remedies of the above highlighted topics and others discussed in this forum?

    Thanks for your effort on this topic,

    -David Smith

    1. Thanks, Mr. Smith,


      The biggest element is the Common/Trapelo intersection and a new approach is under vetting which appears promising.

      I am awaiting word on when that will roll out and will post that as soon as I have it.

      The MBTA stops have been consolidated and moved.

      Progress is underway at many sites up and down the corridor. Happy to run down any specific questions, but at this point, the answer from the contractor is likely to be “work in progress”.

      1. Would it be possible to post a description of the new approach here or elsewhere on the forum?

        That would allow the community to give some feedback before facts are established on the ground?

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