Powder House Boulevard Planning

In summer 2017, the City began utility work along Powder House Boulevard. This work will improve the efficiency of the existing water main by removing corrosive buildup in the main. The roadway along the full length of the Boulevard is being repaved and sidewalks upgraded in sections, as work progresses along the Boulevard. The final phase of utility work, which will be on the western end of the Boulevard, is scheduled to be completed in Spring 2019 with paving and sidewalk work expected to be complete by late summer 2019. The City is currently evaluating options for bicycle lanes and has announced a multi-component Traffic Safety Plan to be implemented starting in April 2019, with various elements scheduled for completion between April 2019 and Summer 2020. 

  • Project Overview

  • Presentations, Meetings, & Notes

  • Traffic Safety Plan

This project will include upgrades to underground water mains as well as surface-level roadway improvements for improved bicycle and pedestrian safety and reduced vehicle travel speeds. During the first phases of construction, crews will access water main joints in the grass strip along the north side of Powder House Boulevard between Mason Avenue and North Street in order to clean and line the water main, which will improve the capacity of the water main and improve flow. This work will not affect travel lanes, but crews will need to restrict parking in the immediate area around the work zones on the days they are working. The roadway will also be repaved, first between Powder House Circle and Mason Avenue, and then between Mason Avenue and Alewife Brook Parkway. Once paving is completed, the roadway will receive bicycle lanes as well as additional measures to reduce vehicle travel speeds and improve safety for all users of the roadway. In all, the project and the accompanying Traffic Safety Plan will include, but is not limited to:

  • Improved water main flow
  • Roadway resurfacing
  • Sidewalk repair
  • Traffic calming
  • Bicycle lanes
  • A series of speed tables near the West Somerville Neighborhood School
  • A pedestrian-activated HAWK signal in front of the West Somerville Neighborhood School
  • Conversion of the Curtis Ave. intersection to a 4-way stop
  • A large bump out at North St. 
  • Improved markings and signage
  • Additional radar feedback signs

Meeting Date





Presentation (Traffic Safety Plan)


Conceptual Design with Community Feedback

Community Meetings: Traffic Safety Plan & Bike Options

  • May: We are working to schedule a May date for the first in a series of meetings. Please sign up for the City newsletter at www.somervillema.gov/newsletter and keep an eye on the city calendar for updates.
  • Summer: Additional meetings to be scheduled.
  • More Info: Staff are also always available to answer your questions at [email protected]

Neighborhood Office Hours

  • Wednesday, April 10, 6-8 p.m., West Somerville Neighborhood School
  • Tuesday, April 23, 6-8 p.m., West Somerville Neighborhood School
  • Thursday, April 25, 6-8 p.m., West Somerville Neighborhood School


Powder House Blvd. Traffic Safety Plan (PDF)

Powder House Blvd. Traffic Safety Plan

The next phase of traffic calming improvements to Powder House Boulevard is detailed in the Powder House Blvd. Traffic Safety Plan.

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.

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