The next phase of traffic calming improvements to Powder House Boulevard is detailed in the Powder House Blvd. .
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 interventions, key safety features include 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. Single lane bike lanes had been previously planned for Fall 2019 for the Boulevard to both improve cyclist safety as well as 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 instead that could have additional safety benefits for both cyclists and pedestrians but would require the elimination of a significant amount of parking.
The plan is available as a PDF download here for those who wish to read the plan, and a voiceover video version is available here for those who wish to listen to an explanation of the plan.
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.