SOMERVILLE – This week, Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone submitted a proposal to the City Council to immediately increase investments in street safety and sustainable transportation.
The proposal would create three new full-time staff positions in the Mobility Division to support traffic calming, transit-focused projects, public engagement, long-range policy planning, and complete-streets engineering.
The new staff positions would substantially increase the City’s capacity to fulfill its Vision Zero commitment to eliminate traffic crashes resulting in severe injuries or fatalities, as well as its Somerville Climate Forward commitment to decrease carbon emissions from transportation sources, with the ultimate goal of zero emissions. Newly created staff positions are typically proposed through the City’s annual budget process in June, but the Mayor’s mid-year request is intended to facilitate hiring in time for the 2021 construction season.
“These needed investments would accelerate and expand our community’s efforts to save lives and combat climate change with the scale and urgency required,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “We’ve made enormous progress, from saving the Green Line and Community Path from cancellation, to constructing miles of accessible sidewalks and new bike facilities, but we must maintain progress and accelerate our efforts if we are to achieve Vision Zero and our Somerville Climate Forward goals. This proposal is an important step toward that.”
The City’s Vision Zero Action Plan commits Somerville to eliminating crashes that result in severe injuries or fatalities. In 2010 and 2011, Somerville experienced approximately 25 such crashes per year. In 2018, only 10 such crashes occurred in Somerville. But four fatal crashes in 2019 and one in 2020 have galvanized the community to accelerate investment in Somerville’s safe streets projects and programs.
Since 2015, Mayor Curtatone and the City Council have collaborated to allocate resources in support of Somerville’s goal to be the most walkable, bikeable, and transit-accessible city in the country. Dozens of safety and accessibility projects have been successfully implemented over the past six years, including rebuilding more than 10 miles of accessible sidewalks, expanding the city’s bicycle network by approximately 10 miles, and creating five dedicated bus lane facilities. But new funding is needed to catalyze the next generation of positive change for Somerville. The proposed staff positions and related funding would help deliver new traffic-calming and pedestrian-safety projects, rapid expansion of protected bike lanes, and systemwide improvements for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users.