The next phase of traffic calming improvements to Powder House Boulevard is detailed in the Powder House Blvd. Traffic Safety Plan developed by the City of Somerville Transportation and Infrastructure Division in collaboration with the Somerville Police Dept., the Traffic & Parking Dept., the City Arborist, the Engineering Dept., and the Department of Public Works. The plan is available at http://www.somervillema.gov/PHB as a document, and a voice-over video version will be available by April 4.
The plan builds upon earlier safety measures and traffic calming improvements made to the Boulevard in recent years including a pedestrian-activated Rapid Flashing Beacon at Hardan Road in front of the West Somerville Neighborhood School, sidewalk bump outs, improved crosswalk markings, new crosswalks, reflective mid-crosswalk signs, reflective strips, the flashing 4-way stop at Packard Ave. installed in collaboration with Tufts University, and the lowering of the citywide speed limit to 25 mph in 2016.
The next steps detailed in the plan include a number of additional improvements already scheduled for the current construction season as well as some new elements developed this year in response to community input. In addition to other safety interventions, key safety features included are a series of three speed tables near the West Somerville Neighborhood School, a conversion of the signalized intersection at Curtis St. to a 4-way stop, a large sidewalk bump out at North Street that will narrow the western pedestrian crossing from 70 to 30 feet, and a pedestrian-activated HAWK signal in front of the school designed to slow and fully stop traffic with a series of yellow and red lights.
The plan also updates existing plans for a “road diet” for the Boulevard, an effective approach for slowing traffic by narrowing the vehicle travel lanes. To achieve this, single-lane bike lanes had been previously planned for Fall 2019 for the Boulevard to both improve cyclist safety as well to narrow the road. In collaboration with the Somerville Bicycle Committee, discussions will be held from May through the summer to determine if the community prefers the existing plan or a two-lane, two-way bike path that could have additional safety benefits for both cyclists and pedestrians but would require the elimination of a significant amount of parking.
Every action detailed in the plan aims to increase pedestrian and cyclist safety on Powder House Boulevard as well as the safety of all participants in traffic including motorists. Each feature works both independently to calm traffic and increase safety and as part of an overall system of traffic calming. Overall efforts combine both existing and emerging best practices that are well tested for their traffic calming efficacy.
City staff will be set up at the West Somerville Neighborhood School for Office Hours to listen to plan feedback and answer questions at the times noted below. A date for a community meeting in May to update on plan progress and start community discussion on the bike lane options will be announced soon. Please sign up for the City newsletter for updates at http://www.somervillema.gov/newsletter to get a notice of the meeting date. Anyone with questions about the plan may also email email@example.com.
Powder House Blvd. Traffic Safety Plan Public Office Hours
•Wednesday, April 10, 6-8 p.m., West Somerville Neighborhood School lobby
•Tuesday, April 23, 6-8 p.m., West Somerville Neighborhood School lobby
•Thursday, April 25, 6-8 p.m., West Somerville Neighborhood School lobby
Individuals with disabilities who need auxiliary aids and services for effective communication, written materials in alternative formats, or reasonable modifications in policies and procedures, in order to access the programs and activities of the City of Somerville or to attend meetings, should contact Nency Salamoun, at 617-625-6600 x2323 or NSalamoun@somervillema.gov.