Monday, May 27, 2024

Have you been stuck in traffic at Massachusetts Avenue and Alewife Brook Parkway while no buses run on the dedicated bus lanes and impatient drivers whiz by on those unused lanes with very few bicyclists on the separated bicycle lanes? I have on many occasions, and reported it on SeeClickFix back on June 8. It was immediately closed with the note that “We have passed this information along to Cambridge Traffic, Parking & Transportation staff. Additionally, Alewife Brook Parkway is state property, managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation” and a suggestion to contact TP&T.

Yesterday I had to go to Burlington around 8:30 a.m. It took me 13 minutes to go from Norris Street to Alewife Brook Parkway, a distance of 0.6 miles that should take only five minutes during non-rush hours. While stuck in the traffic at Churchill Avenue, I counted more than a dozen cars whizzing by on the dedicated bus lane, with only a handful of bicyclists braving the bad weather. The right eastbound lane of Alewife Brook Parkway was backed up almost to Whittemore Avenue, a distance of 0.3 miles.

My many pleas to the city to mitigate this congestion at this gateway to the city have fallen on deaf ears, but there is finally a ray of hope thanks to councillors Patty Nolan and Marc McGovern, with whom I had the opportunity to discuss the issues recently.

TP&T has crash data and travel data from 2016 and 2021. The congestion is in stark contrast to a traffic impact analysis presented by TP&T on Oct. 28 during its second community meeting on the Massachusetts Avenue project between Dudley Street and Alewife Brook Parkway.

At an on-site meeting Oct. 18, 2021, transportation staff promised me that once the North Cambridge project was implemented, they would be able to monitor traffic volume and implement adjustments to mitigate traffic issues using the 2016 travel data as the baseline. I do not recall them mentioning the 2021 data. If they had, I surely would have asked for it and analyzed it before the community meeting.

I urge all the readers to contact city councillors to hold TP&T accountable and order a traffic study at this intersection, if for no other reason than to reduce air pollution caused by all the idling cars. Time is of the essence, as Public Works is proceeding with the MassAve4 – Mass Ave Partial Construction project from Harvard Square to Alewife Brook Parkway. The scope grew seemingly overnight from the approach and timeline of four segments (as described in the Cycling Safety Ordinance) adopted and placed on file April 25 to the expanded scope in proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget appropriation orders presented May 2. Let’s make sure that the congestion at this busy gateway doesn’t become congestion2.

Young Kim, Norris Street