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
Recent Work and Updates
Between Oxford St. and Washington St., Newport Construction continues to complete “button up” tasks to prepare Beacon St. for a safe winter season. This has and will continue to include pouring concrete along remaining sidewalks, installation of ramps at intersections, pavement patching, and tree grate installation.
Construction Look Ahead
With most of the “major” work completed along the entire stretch of Beacon St., Newport Construction crews will focus on completion of sidewalk work (including pouring concrete and laying brick pavers) between Park St. and Washington St. For the remainder of this week, the work will be focused in the areas of Scott St., Beckwith Cir., and installation of brick pavers between Morgan St. and Washington St.
During the week of October 30, Newport will form and pour driveways at 278 & 272 Beacon St., install curbing and ADA ramps at the intersections of Greenwood, Stanford, Miller, and Sacramento, and continue to install brick pavers between Morgan St. and Washington St.
During the week of November 6, Eversource contractors will return to the portion between Washington St. and the Cambridge line to add a pavement layer and temporary paint markings for the winter season. This work is expected to take 1-2 days, and will require lane closures to accommodate 2-way traffic. If for any reason the work will be delayed, the City has required that Eversource provide 48 hours notice to abutters.
Over the next several weeks, Newport will work to ensure the site is safe, accessible, and clean for the end of the construction season. The last phase of the major reconstruction will begin again in Spring 2018.
Bicycle Information and Detours
For the duration of the 2017 construction season, the protected bike lane (Oxford to Washington) will be closed. While bicyclists are always welcome to use the full travel lane, we strongly recommend that bicyclists use the MassDOT approved detour routes, which are supported by the City. Suggested detour 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 check out 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:
- The City of Somerville’s Constituent Service Center: 311 (617-666-3311), 311Updates@somervillema.gov.
- City of Somerville Deputy Director of Communications, Jackie Rossetti: 617-625-6600 ext. 2614, JRossetti@somervillema.gov
Dear Beacon Street Neighbors,
Thank you for reaching out about the Beacon Street tree removal. I'd like to update you on the City's recent meetings with representatives of MassDOT, as well as their contractor Newport Construction, to address the unauthorized removal of Beacon Street trees by Newport, along with subsequent actions taken. Also, I understand that some of you are frustrated at the pace of this response, but I want to assure you City and MassDOT staff have been actively addressing this issue, gathering information, and awaiting responses ourselves so that we could respond with full information.
As a reminder, Beacon Street is a MassDOT funded and managed project. As a result, as the contract holder, MassDOT demanded a full accounting of the actions that led to the unauthorized tree removal. This request confirmed that blatant violation of protocol resulted in the removal.
As a result, the City held two emergency meetings with MassDOT and Newport, and afterward, MassDOT undertook five initial actions regarding Newport:
- MassDOT took the serious, disciplinary step of issuing an Interim Performance Evaluation that cited the contractor with low field compliance scores. This puts a permanent mark on Newport’s record, which will be taken into consideration when they bid for future MassDOT projects.
- MassDOT has required Newport to revise their current construction coordination procedures, which have fallen short of acceptable standards.
- MassDOT has demanded that the project meetings (which City staff also attend) be held weekly going forward rather than every other week.
- MassDOT has demanded that the 3-week look-ahead, which was previously being updated every two weeks, now be updated weekly.
- MassDOT is also reviewing and researching their options for other recourse.
We would like to note that MassDOT has been a reliable and important partner for the City overall across numerous projects, and without their willingness to fund and carry out Beacon Street reconstruction, this project would not have been possible. We are deeply disappointed with Newport’s tree removal, but based on the determination of MassDOT to address this effectively, we are confident that the failures in the system that allowed this will be addressed going forward on their end, and we are also taking steps as well to address this.
City staff and our elected officials share your surprise and upset over the actions of Newport. In addition to requesting and supporting the MassDOT actions noted above. After reviewing the outcome of the above steps, the City requested additional review by MassDOT of this matter. MassDOT then issued a second Interim Performance Evaluation further citing Newport’s substandard performance and lowering their score further, making the mark on their record more severe.
The City is also taking this additional action: We are exploring options for recourse and damages that may be available to us. We are reviewing our options to respectfully and efficiently establish increased oversight over State projects and the resources we may need to request in order to do so. And finally, we working with the Board of Aldermen to enhance existing City tree legislation. We will keep you posted on all of these efforts.
That, of course, will not bring back the trees that were prematurely removed. Despite the expected spring removal called for in the project plans, no one in the neighborhood should have to go without the traffic calming, environmental, and recreational benefits of these trees any longer than necessary. The city’s top priority for all tree management and activities is always preservation whenever possible.
Due to the underground and surface work required for the full-depth reconstruction of the roadway, however, tree removals were necessary for all but a few trees, which were designated for preservation based on the details of their locations. Removal of most of the trees between Washington Street and Inman Square was expected in the spring, but only after final site review, community outreach, staff availability to residents, and onsite removal notice postings. Again, we would prefer not to have trees removed for construction, but the digging and root disruption caused by this work necessitated the unavoidable removal of most of the trees on Beacon.
To review the plans, please click on the Plans tab above, which has been updated to include all relevant plans.
Replacement planting: Plans call for ~190 new trees to replace ~75 removed
Whenever City public trees die or are required to be removed, we make every effort to replace them where possible—and expand the number of trees replanted where possible. Beacon Street is no different. All trees will be replanted in the largest survivable/advised size and with appropriate biodiversity once the construction phase and season are appropriate for planting. On Beacon, plans call for an increase in trees with a total of ~190 new trees replacing the ~75 trees removed (along the full length of the project) due to construction. We too desire, and have been striving for, an appealing, safe, and tree-lined streetscape for Beacon, just as we have been steadily striving to maintain and grow the tree canopy citywide.
Again, thank you for reaching out about this issue. To continue to receive our regular email updates on the Beacon Street project please check back here, or go to somervillema.gov/alerts where you can review updates can sign up for project alerts.
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.