Somerville Speakup Line: Regarding Closed McGrath Offramp “I More Often Bicycle to Target and Home Depot!”

Photo:The local de

Dear Billy T and Somerville Speakup Line,

I read with dismay the front-page story this week which claimed that

the southbound off-ramp from McGrath Highway to Somerville Ave. was

“crucial for the survival of many businesses in that area” and promoted

a conspiracy theory that this was being done intentionally to reduce

property values(?!). There is another southbound off-ramp only a single block further north at Washington St. which as an occasional driver in the area I find easily serves southbound car traffic destined for both

Union Square and the Target shopping complex.

The closure of the tunnel has actually made a marked improvement in safety for all users of the intersection.  Instead of a bizarre merge with limited sight lines

while simultaneously exiting the tunnel and entering the Washington St.

traffic circle, eastbound Somerville Ave. traffic now meets McGrath

northbound at a right angle.

I more often bicycle to Target and Home

Depot, and making a left through that tunnel on a bike felt very

unsafe, forcing cars and bikes into the same highway-like lane in a

darkened area.  The new configuration allows for low-speed bikes to

make a more conventional left turn, with dedicated lanes to keep them

out of the way of higher-speed cars.

The old off-ramp and tunnel also

presented more and difficult lanes for pedestrians to cross.The new

configuration, especially with the light stopping traffic on northbound

McGrath, is much safer and convenient for pedestrians and makes it easier to take the bus when going shopping.

The best way to boost business in the face of increasing traffic congestion is to make movement by other modes easier. In Kendall Square, the number of cars entering the area has decreased while the number of trips has actually increased, thanks to policies favoring bikes and transit.

Christopher Beland

Davis Square, Somerville

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