The main topic at today’s Traffic Commission meeting was a road connection between the 1265 Main project and City Point office park. Rob Nagi from the firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, which is consulting for the 1265 Main developers, gave a presentation showing a road connecting to 5th Avenue in the City Point office park, which presently has access only from Totten Pond Road. (The map did not extend as far as the connection to 1265 Main). The new road would have a sidewalk on one side and be gated during peak hours, though still open to bicyclists and pedestrians. Connecting sidewalks would be built in the City Point office park.The developers would pay for the project.

Rep. Thomas Stanley, among others, spoke in favor of the project, citing traffic issues

On behalf of the Bicycle Committee, I spoke in favor of the project but asked that a path connecting to 3rd Avenue also be built, because this would make a much shorter route for bicyclists and pedestrians, and avoid a long climb in both directions. Other cyclists including Leo Keightly, Martha Creedon and Laurel Carpenter attended the meeting, but did not speak.

Several business owners and employees at City Point expressed approval of the project. A major concern was the difficulty of exiting to Totten Pond Road in rush hour.

Several other commenters including Ward 2 councilor Fowler, and citizens impacted by traffic congestion, expressed conditional approval, asking that the project be delayed until it could be examined in the light of an overall plan including new connections to Route 95/128, and expressing concern that it would increase traffic, notably on Wyman Street, Smith street, Lake Street and Totten Pond Road.

City Traffic Engineer Michael Garvin spoke in favor of the project, indicating that it will help to alleviate traffic, and he spoke in favor of the timed gate closing, which would be removed when additional infrastructure is built.

City Planner Catherine Cagle asked to look at signage because she wanted to be sure that it would clearly indicate when the gate is open. Mr Nagi indicated that the signs would be electronic. Ms. Cagle also wants a sidewalk on both sides of the new road, and presented this as a friendly amendment to a proposal to approve the project. She

[My own opinion of this is that sidewalks on both sides make sense in the developments, but on the connecting road, one sidewalk would probably be adequate.]

Mr. Nagi indicated that the problem with having two sidewalks is of available space and easements, rather than money.

Police Department Chief MacPherson and Fire Deparment Chief Ciccone made strong statements in favor of the project in the interest of public safety, as the City Point office park presently has only one entrance. This is a problem which goes back 35 years to the construction of the project.

The Traffic Commission voted unanimously in favor of a motion to approve the project, though I don’t have a copy of it, so I’m not sure of its precise wording. I also don’t know whether or when the plans will be available online, but we’ll pass along that information as soon as we can.  The meeting will be broadcast on Waltham Community Television’s Mac Channel — John Allen

Streaming video of Waltham Traffic Commission meetings is online, now including the May 19, 2016 meeting (no longer tied to an on-air date) and as far back as the September 2015 meeting. Here’s a direct link to the May 19 meeting.

There are many URLs for earlier meetings, so instead surf to http://wcac.org, and in the On Demand Streaming window on the page click on Playlists, scroll down to Traffic Commission and click on it. A list of Traffic Commission meetings will appear. Scroll down if needed to find the meeting you want to view, and click on it. It will appear in the pane to the left of the list. By clicking on the double arrow icon below the lower right corner of the image, you may expand it to fill the screen.

To view the May 19 Transportation Master Plan meeting, just click here.

The Waltham Traffic Commission met at 10 AM on May 19. A condensed version of the Traffic Master Plan presentation of May 17 was given. There was a long discussion leading to approval of restriping of Lexington Street. Waltham resident Leo Keightley presented a petition for a path alongside Lexington Street. I (John Allen) commented that this would have safety problems with intersections and driveways. The Commission approved a plan submitted by the Traffic Engineer for a road diet and bike lanes on Lexington Street. The agenda of the meeting is online on the Traffic Commission Web page. As of this writing, the Minutes have not yet been posted.

Update, June 3, 2016: The May meeting is now online as streaming video, as are earlier Traffic Commission meetings. We have a post describing how to access them . As of today, the minutes of the May meeting are not yet online. After the Minutes have been approved at the June meeting, they may be expected to appear on the Traffic Commission page along with Minutes of earlier meetings (right side of page, scroll down).

The Waltham Transportation Master Plan presentation from the May 17 public meeting is online, for your reference and in case you intend to comment on the plan. There is a 30-day comment period, which expires on June 15 or 16. Additional information about the meeting and how to access it as video is in a previous post. Also have a look at the Traffic Commission’s Web page, with links to other documents and city personnel.

Update, June 3 2016: The video of the May 19 Transportation Master Plan meeting is also available: just click here.

I (John Allen) attended the Waltham Transportation Update in the evening of Tuesday, May 17.

The Transportation Update was in three parts. The first was an “open house” with 18 large plan drawings taped up on the walls of the auditorium at Government Center (119 School Street). These drawings illustrated the city’s consultant’s plans for changes at numerous locations in Waltham. These drawings should be posted soon on the Web page of the Traffic Engineering Department, but were not yet posted as I write this on May 18. Proposed changes are extensive and will take years to complete.

The presentation was by representatives of the consulting firm. Highlights included:

  • Suggestions for managing parking in downtown Waltham;
  • Numerous intersection improvements with updated traffic signals, curb ramps and curb extensions;
  • Sidewalk improvements and construction of some new sidewalks;
  • Reconfiguration of the residential section of Lexington Street as three lanes with a center turn lane and bike lanes;
  • Reconfiguration of the Winter Street oval as a single roadway;
  • Reconfiguration of Carter Street (past the downtown Commuter Rail station) to favor bus and taxi access.

There was much more, which will be viewable when the plans are posted.

I regard the consultant’s work as much weaker as it relates to bicycling. There were several proposals for bike lanes (notably on Lexington Street), but:

  • No mention at all of the Rail Trail, which will be a major transportation artery for bicyclists, or for that matter of paths along the Charles Rvier, or any others;
  • A really bad proposal for a two-way shared-use path alongside hilly Bear Hill Road. This would have 30 mile per hour downhill bicycle traffic crossing driveways and mixing with pedestrians and uphill bicyclists.
  • No mention of making traffic signal actuators work for bicycles except to put one in a bike lane at Vernon Street and South Street.

Following the consultant’s presentation, there was a question and answer period. I was first with comments:

  • I commended the consultant’s work on intersections.
  • I indicated that the Rail Trail needed to be integrated into the planning.
  • Appropriate treatment for Bear Hill Road would be a bike lane in the uphill direction and shared-lane markings in the downhill direction.
  • There are several “missing link” connections which can be made at low cost, for example, one which is currently in informal use between Bishop’s Forest and the neighborhood off Forest Street; and another improving the dirt path which is the unimproved section of Old County Road, connecting with the office park on Winter Street above the Cambridge Reservoir.
  • All traffic-signal actuators should sense bicycles.

There were other commenters — specifics included making a connection between the 1265 Main Street development and the office park north of it, off Totten Pond Road. However, I had to leave early and did not hear all of the comments.

But you can get to hear them all, and maybe some of the the small group sessions which followed. The meeting was recorded in video. and was shown today, May 18, at 2:13 PM on the Municipal Access Channel. It will be shown again at noon on Sunday, May 22, but it is also available on demand over the Internet, in high definition yet! Go to one of the air times on the MAC Channel schedule page, find the meeting and click on “Watch Now.”

Update, June 3 2016: To view the video of the May 19 Transportation Master Plan meeting, just click here.

There is a 30-day period for written comments.

This year again, NEMBA is hosting a friendly mountain bike ride that is taking place in Waltham and Belmont on Monday evenings throughout the spring and summer. NEMBA is the New England Mountain Bike Association and they will be holding this ride on Monday evenings at 6:00 pm sharp, arrive 10-15 minutes early. The ride leaves from the Lone Tree Hill parking lot off Mill St. in Belmont. Here is a link for more info.