Full-Depth Reconstruction Starting May 2016
In 2016, MassDOT will begin a full-depth reconstruction of Beacon Street, which will improve the lifespan of the road by rebuilding the sub-surface, grading the surface for positive drainage, and installing a new high-quality asphalt surface. The roadway design will improve the safety and flow of traffic, while dramatically improving pedestrian accessibility and bicycle safety.
Updates & Alerts
Presentations & Notes
Updates & Alerts
As noted in previous updates, the project team has determined that for the safety of bicyclists, pedestrians, vehicles, and construction crews while active construction is ongoing this season, the protected bicycle lane will be CLOSED, beginning on Monday, March 20. During the construction season, we strongly recommend that bicyclists utilize the detour routes which were put into place in 2016, available at the links below:
While the use of the full travel lane is an option that some bicyclists may choose, please be advised that temporary, unexpected lane shifts may be in place throughout the course of the 2017 construction season, and that while construction is ongoing travel lanes may be narrow. When complete, the protected bicycle lane will provide the safest and most efficient route, however as it is not yet in its final condition it is not safe for travel during the construction season. Again, we strongly recommend using the detours posted above.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us, or contact the Somerville Bike Committee for updates and information about Bicycle-related information and projects by visiting www.somervillebikes.org.
Due to forecast higher temperatures over the next several weeks, the City will lift its construction moratorium as of Monday, March 13, and some construction will resume along Beacon Street (between Oxford Street and the Cambridge city line).
Beginning on Monday, Eversource contractors will work to repair gas lines and improve connections. This work is expected to last approximately three months, and is not expected to require full road closures. Parking restrictions will be posted in approximately 500 foot sections of each workzone in order to allow two-way traffic.
Over the next several weeks, Newport Construction will be on site, along the length of Beacon Street, to conduct repairs to some manhole and sewer systems, however no major restrictions or closures are anticipated with this work.
Beginning on approximately April 3, Newport Construction will return to the portion of Beacon Street between Oxford Street and Washington Street to complete sidewalk, curb, and tree work. Upon completion of the Eversource gas repairs, Newport will move into Phase 3 of the roadway reconstruction, between Washington Street and the Cambridge city line, in approximately July 2017. We will continue to update you on the progress of Eversource and Newport in the event that the schedule or scope does change.
Through the month of March, parking restrictions will apply in short work zones between Washington Street and the Cambridge line as Eversource conducts gas service repairs. Please make note of temporary parking restrictions in these areas each day. Violators will be subject to ticketing and towing. To accommodate the construction work done by Newport, there will be changes in parking availability as needed along Beacon Street. Residents will be notified of parking changes via these updates and through posted signage. As a reminder, the current configuration of Beacon Street is NOT the final condition for parking, bicycle, or pedestrian accommodations.
Bicycle Information and Detours
While the protected bike lane is open for use, it is not in its final condition and may not provide the best and most safe option for bicyclists when combined with active construction and the expected increase in the number of bicyclists in the spring and summer. The protected bike lane may also be unavailable at times during construction. We strongly recommend that bicyclists avoid the protected bike lane as well as the section of Beacon Street between Washington Street and the Cambridge City Line and instead use the posted detour routes (proposed by the City and approved by MassDOT). These routes can be found at:
As always, bicyclists may opt to use the full travel lane(s), however, please take note that lane shifts and narrower travel lanes will be in effect throughout construction season. Please stay tuned for updates and important announcements as construction gets underway.
At this time, we do not anticipate any major detours for automobiles through the spring portion of construction. Lane shifts will be in effect between Washington Street and the Cambridge line in order to allow two-way traffic. As updates or changes arise, you will be notified in advance. Please note that beginning in July (approximate), Newport Construction will begin reconstruction work in this section, which may require the use of detour routes onto heavily residential streets. We anticipate hosting a community meeting or forum in advance to provide updates and answer questions. Please stay tuned for more information as we have a more finalized schedule this spring.
If you have questions, concerns, or a report of a health or safety hazard, please call 311 (for emergencies, always call 911).
Please check out the Beacon Street Reconstruction project page for project background and FAQs and other important information.
If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of the project staff:
Improvements Above and Below Ground
Improvements will include:
- New sidewalks and new crosswalks
- Traffic and pedestrian signal upgrades between Oxford St. and the Cambridge City line.
- New curbing and other drainage upgrades will be installed.
- Tree canopy and landscaping will be dramatically improved, with more than 200 new tree plantings in high-quality planter boxes.
- A separated bicycle facility along some portions of the corridor will provide enhanced protection for cyclists by physically separating bicyclists from vehicle traffic. This technique is a national standard intended to serve all ages and abilities of bicyclists, rather than just the young, strong or fearless who are comfortable riding in mixed traffic.
A full-depth reconstruction means that crews will dig all the way down to the base layer to completely replace the roadway. The new surface will thus be far less prone to pot holing than it is currently.
In 2015, water and sewer pipes were repaired using a cutting-edge, trenchless method to give the existing pipes a new structural lining. This involves injecting a coating into the pipes that lines the old pipe, hardens, and effectively creates a new pipe within the old pipe. The method requires less time, money, and excavation than traditional dig-and-cut pipe replacement.
Building a Better Bike Lane
Beacon Street reconstruction is Somerville's first roadway project that will include an exclusive bike lane that is separated from the roadway and traffic. Unlike bike lanes marked by a stripe of paint, separation can be achieved through pavement markings, curbs/medians, on-street parking, bollards, or a combination of these elements.
The bike facility type is supported by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Urban Bikeway Design Guide, Federal Highway Adminisrtation (FHWA) Separated Bike Lane Planning & Design Guide, and MassDOT's Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide.
Balancing Multi-Modal Needs
Parking will be removed to balance multi-modal needs along this busy corridor. On street parking on the even side of Beacon Street between Oxford Street and Museum Street will be preserved, but on-street parking on the odd-side between Oxford and Museum will be removed. Between Museum Street and Park Street that alignment will flip: on-street parking will be preserved on the odd-site, but removed on the even-side. Between Washington Street and Dickinson Street, on-street parking will be preserved on both sides of the street. Based on current use levels, a parking study determined that enough parking capacity would remain in the area despite this reduction in spaces.
As of 2015, the league of American Bicyclists ranked Somerville #3 in the country and #1 in the region for the percentage of bike commuters at 7.8%. The City's semi-annual Bike and Pedestrian Counts have repeatedly shown Beacon Street to be the city's most heavily used corridor with over 500+ cyclists during peaks hours. The installation of the separated bike lane will promote traffic safety for all road users while supporting the ever-increasing bicycling volumes along this multi-modal corridor.
The City encourages cyclists to use alternative routes during the construction. A recommended detour route has been prepared in partnership between the Somerville Traffic & Parking Department, the Somerville Police Department, and the Somerville Bicycle Advisory Committee. These routes will be marked with vertical signage.
Please see the detour routes below:
Please call 311 from any phone within the City, or contact 311 by dialing 617-666-3311 from anywhere
Reporting Construction Hazards:
Call 311, which will be routed to all City and MassDOT project staff, including the private contractor.