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About the Mobility Division

OSPCD’s Mobility Division plans, designs, implements, and continually evaluates the effectiveness of projects and programs that advance Somerville’s goal of becoming the most walkable, bikeable, and transit-accessible city in the United States. Mobility Division staff provides guidance to make transportation within Somerville as safe, convenient, and pleasant as possible.The division works closely with other divisions and departments, such as IAM: Engineering, the Office of Sustainability and Environment, OSPCD Planning & Zoning, and the Parking Department to ensure that the City’s mobility and mode shift goals are considered alongside street reconstruction projects and private development projects undertaken within the City. 

Contact Information
Brad Rawson
Director, Mobility Division

Monday - Wednesday
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Thursday
8:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Friday
8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Phone Number
x
2518
Address

93 Highland Avenue
3rd Floor
Somerville, MA 02143
United States

Employee Directory

Projects
 

The Mobility team coordinates with other departments to implement quick-build projects (pavement markings/paint and flex posts) and larger reconstruction projects. All of our projects are focused on improving the safety of vulnerable road users; enhancing the efficiency and safety of transit mobility; and, making our streets safer for everyone traveling on them. 

The type of projects we work on and the extent of improvements that are possible through a given project are summarized below:

  • Quick-build projects

Quick-build projects typically consist of changes to the street that can be made without moving the existing curb. Many times, these projects consist of paint on the street (i.e. pavement markings), signage, and flex posts.

A recent example of a quick-build project is the Powder House Circle Intersection Safety Improvements.

  • Annual pavement and sidewalk resurfacing projects

Every year, the Engineering Department uses a data-driven approach to select sidewalks and streets for resurfacing. Mobility works closely with Engineering to plan and incorporate traffic calming, accessibility, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements in these projects. Transportation safety Improvements that are possible through resurfacing projects include things like speed humps, raised crosswalks or intersections, and new or enhanced bike or bus lanes. 

An example of a project being undertaken as part of the resurfacing program is the Pearl Street Reconstruction project.

  • Major full-depth reconstruction projects

The City also undertakes a small number of major, full-depth reconstruction projects. These types of projects often originate from major underground utility reconstruction. 

With these types of projects, all improvements are on the table including moving curbline throughout a corridor to widen sidewalks or add sidewalk-level bike lanes.

An example of this type of project is the Somerville Ave. Utility and Streetscape Improvements Project.

To learn more about specific ongoing projects, click the links below to go to the project websites.

To see examples of past projects, check out the list below of completed projects.

Programs

Development Review

1) Determine What is Required for Your Project 

Review pages 12-13 of the Development Review Application Submittal Requirements to determine whether a Transportation Access Plan (TAP), Transportation Impact Study (TIS), and/or Mobility Management Plan (MMP) is required for your project.  

Please note: Mobility Management Plans must be approved by the Mobility Division before your development review application can be considered complete. Please allow at least 60 days for the review of your MMP.  

2) Review Mobility Division Guidelines 

3) Submit Documentation to the Mobility Division 

All official project submissions are accepted at http://bit.ly/CoSMobilityReview for any of the following documents: 

  • Scoping Letter 
  • Transportation Impact Study (TIS) 
  • TIS Update/Additional Information 
  • TIS Exemption Request 
  • Mobility Management Plan (MMP) 
  • Signed MMP Approval Letter

State Highways in Somerville

Somerville’s neighborhoods are divided by several state and federal highway facilities, including Interstate 93, State Route 28 (McGrath Highway / Fellsway), State Route 38 (Mystic Avenue), and State Route 16 (Mystic Valley Parkway / Alewife Brook Parkway).  

Although these roadways are intended to serve regional functions, their local impacts are often negative for an urban community like Somerville.  Motor vehicle speeds are typically high enough to produce severe consequences when crashes occur.  Multiple vehicular lanes in the same direction create long crossing distances for people walking.  Highway ramps, retaining walls, and tunnels create physical barriers between our neighborhoods.  

The City of Somerville works collaboratively with state agency partners including the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR) to improve safety and accessibility for all users of these roads, placing special emphasis on planning for people walking, people on bikes, and people riding MBTA buses.

Learn more about the specific state highway projects in Somerville below. We aim to keep this information updated as the projects progress. Some projects are led by the state agencies while other projects are led by the City

MassDOT Roads

MassDOT led projects:

McGrath Highway Resurfacing

McGrath Highway was last repaved in 2009 and is due for routine maintenance. While MassDOT embarks on 25% design for the McGrath Boulevard project (see below for more details), MassDOT will resurface McGrath Highway from Third Street in Cambridge to Broadway in Somerville to maintain the state of good repair. This gives MassDOT the opportunity to paint new striping, incorporate bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements, and implement a road diet (a reduction in the number of vehicle lanes throughout significant portions of the highway) to make the street safer for people walking, wheeling, biking and driving.

Construction on the project has begun and will continue over the summer of 2022. To learn more about the project, check out the McGrath Highway Resurfacing StoryMap.

McGrath Boulevard 

Awarded federal transportation funds through the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPO) Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), the McGrath Boulevard project will remove the existing viaduct and replace it with an at-grade urban boulevard, approximately 1.5 miles long, from Broadway in Somerville to Third Street in Cambridge. The project will also improve intersections at Washington Street and Somerville Avenue, which are currently under or next to the viaduct. 

Removing the viaduct and bringing the highway down to street level will physically reconnect the neighborhoods of Somerville with more direct transportation networks and improve access for people walking, wheeling, biking, taking transit, and driving. Regarding transit, this project will enhance transit access, improving bus operations and rider experience with the installation of floating bus stops, transit signal priority, and bus queue-jumps at key intersections. New and enhanced sidewalks and bicycle facilities will be provided for the length of the boulevard and will connect with the extension of the Somerville Community Path. These enhancements will increase multimodal first- and last-mile connections to the new East Somerville Green Line station. 

The McGrath Boulevard project is anticipated to be funded over four federal fiscal years (FFYs) with the first year of funding beginning in FFY 2027. To learn more, see the project information in the MPO’s TIP.

Route 28 and Route 38 Intersection Improvements Project - early action improvements and long-term infrastructure changes

The goals of the MassDOT Route 28 and Route 38 Intersection Improvements project are to increase the safety of all users, improve accessibility, and prioritize vulnerable road users along Mystic Ave., Fellsway, and McGrath Highway in the vicinity of the intersection as well as throughout the intersection itself. 

With high speeds, multiple vehicle lanes in each direction, a lack of accessible curb ramps, and no protected bicycle facilities, these streets and the intersection pose multiple safety issues for all roadway users, and, most notably people walking, wheeling, taking transit and biking. In order to address the safety concerns in this area, MassDOT plans to implement improvements in a couple of phases. Early action safety improvements will be constructed in 2022, and larger infrastructure changes including a road diet throughout the intersection, shared use paths, and additional safety improvements are planned to start construction in 2024. 

The most recent information was presented at a MassDOT Public Information Meeting on June 2, 2022. To see more details, review the Presentation Slides from June 2, 2022 Meeting. To provide any feedback or to reach out to the project team throughout these projects you can contact to MassDOTProjectManagement@dot.state.ma.us or Dot.feedbackdistrict4@dot.state.ma.us. You can also visit the MassDOT Public Hearings website.

Early-action and longer-term improvements are described in more detail below.

Early-Action: State Funded Targeted Safety Improvements

As early actions for the Route 28 and Route 38 intersection improvements project, MassDOT aims to improve safety throughout the project area in 2022. At the intersection of Blakeley Avenue and McGrath Highway (by the Stop and Shop), MassDOT implemented a new signalized pedestrian crossing, new accessible curb ramps, and a median to provide refuge for people crossing McGrath.

At the Kensington Crossings, MassDOT will install raised crosswalks (prioritizing safety of people walking and wheeling) at the three Kensington crosswalks and for the Route 28 Northbound and Route 38 Southbound right turn. A rapid flashing beacon will be installed at Kensington and Route 38 Northbound, and new crosswalks and accessible curb ramps will be constructed throughout the intersection

Across the project area, MassDOT is planning to construct a variety of pedestrian accessibility improvements in the summer of 2022, which include installing accessible curb ramps wherever they are missing, replacing deficient curb ramps, removing impediments to people walking and wheeling such as signal posts and guard rails, and constructing sidewalks along established desire lines such as the dirt path along Mystic Avenue. These improvements will also include the installation of curb extensions to give more space to people walking and wheeling and installing rapid flashing beacons to increase safety at crossings.

Longer-Term: TIP Project

MassDOT and their consultants have recently revised the 25% design for the Route 28 Route 38 federally funded TIP project which includes sidewalk level separated bike lanes, shared use paths, enhanced mobility options, and the elimination of a driving lane from Fellsway to McGrath. The project runs the length of the intersection of Fellsway and Mystic Ave to the intersection of McGrath and Broadway. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2024 with a design public hearing likely to be held in the fall of 2022.

At Fellsway, a new 10 foot wide shared use path will be installed on the southbound side with a new pedestrian connection to the Ten Hills neighborhood. MassDOT will construct shorter and improved crosswalks with pedestrian refuge islands across Fellsway. The Shared use path will continue under I-93 and across Mystic Avenue to new sidewalks and separated bike lanes running adjacent to Foss Park. The road diet on McGrath makes space for a 10 foot shared use path and new buffered green space on the southbound side to add more protection for people walking, wheeling and biking. On the northbound side, new 8 foot sidewalks will be added with a sidewalk level bike lane. These facilities will continue along McGrath past Blakeley Avenue to Broadway to link up with the McGrath resurfacing project.

Previous public meeting presentation materials for the Route 28/Route 38 Project:

Somerville I-93 Viaduct Bridge Preservation

In 2021, MassDOT completed design for the important safety and maintenance project that will rebuild the portion of the I-93 bridge from approximately the Kensington Connector to Temple Street. Construction will begin in 2022 and is estimated to last for two years.

The project includes repairs to the steel superstructure of the bridge, the concrete structures below the bridge, and to the critical structure of the top of bridge.The aim of the project is to extend the lifespan of the bridge and reduce the frequency of repairs.

MassDOT does expect that there will be some impacts to residents during construction. The most significant impacts will include noise and dust from construction and traffic impacts due to construction-related detours. More information about the project timeline, construction specifics, and related impacts will be updated frequently on the project website: www.mass.gov/somerville-i-93-viaduct-preservation

To reach out to the project team, contact I93SomervilleViaduct@dot.state.ma.us.  

MassDOT is also setting up a staffed phone line where residents can communicate any project concerns during construction, and these will be responded to in a timely manner.

Mystic Ave and Maffa Way

The bridges at Mystic Ave. and Maffa Way over the MBTA Orange Line must be rebuilt to maintain a state of good repair. With federally funding secured, construction is proposed to begin in 2023. The original design proposed some multimodal improvements. City staff, residents, advocates and community groups provided feedback that focused on eliminating travel lanes, reducing vehicle speeds, and improving pedestrian, bus and bike facilities. MassDOT is working on advancing design and coordinating with the City of Somerville and City of Boston. 

City led projects:

Mystic Ave and Shore Drive Intersection Improvements

To improve safety for people walking, wheeling, and biking at the intersection of Mystic Ave and Shore Drive, the City and MassDOT has developed a design for intersection improvements. The design includes curb extensions to provide more space for people walking and improve visibility at the crosswalks. Signal equipment and crosswalks will be enhanced and protected bike lanes will be installed on either side of Shore Drive. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2022.

Mystic Ave and Middlesex Ave Intersection Improvements

Shaped by the Assembly Neighborhood Plan, the City is designing an improved intersection at Mystic Ave and Middlesex Ave with sidewalk level bike lanes on both roads, a new boulevard design for Middlesex Ave with one travel lane in each direction, improved bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and increased safety with a planted center island.

For more information, check out the Pedestrian and Transit Committee City Update presentation slides on April 21.

Mystive Ave Peak Hour Bus Lane Pilot

In 2020, the City implemented a peak hour (6am - 9am) bus lane on Mystic Ave to support essential workers traveling by bus. Partnering with the City of Medford, the MBTA, and MassDOT, the bus lanes extended from Main Street in Medford to Wheatland Street in Somerville. This segment of the bus route serves approximately 41 daily weekday inbound trips, which includes approximately 1,400 weekday total riders per day and 7,000 weekday total riders per week. Route 95 is in the top 50th percentile of bus ridership among all routes, but on-street traffic congestion contributes to a poor on-time performance of 67%.

Long-term, the City is working with state partners to explore a 24/7 bus lane. To learn more about the City’s COVID-19 response quick builds, visit the project website.

DCR Roads

DCR led projects:

DCR is constructing accessibility improvements and making the signals work more efficiently at Route 16 and Boston Ave. In the long-term, the City is collaborating with DCR on a corridor planning effort to make Alewife Brook Parkway only two lanes of travel. 

City led projects:

Alewife Brook Parkway and Powder House Boulevard Intersection Improvements

In collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the City is reconstructing the intersection of Alewife Brook Parkway and Powder House Boulevard with support from a MassWorks Infrastructure Program grant. The project will upgrade aging underground infrastructure and create safer roadway conditions for people walking, wheeling, biking, and driving. The design transforms the existing rotary to a “T” intersection to slow down speeds, make it easier to cross from the shared use path and reduce confusion for people driving. The project also includes a new "Shared Street" next to Alewife Brook Parkway  that incorporates a raised crosswalk at the entrances, plantings, "bump-outs," and other traffic calming measures. Preliminary construction is scheduled to begin in 2022 and continue to 2024.

Resources

Related City Departments, Commissions, and Programs

Mobility Resources 

Public Transit
 

Mass transit is central to life in Somerville. Our residents, workers and visitors depend on safe, reliable, affordable public transit. Somerville’s economic, equity and climate commitments cannot be achieved without a strong and resilient mass transit system in greater Boston. 
 
Today, the MBTA bus system includes 14 bus routes in Somerville, and pre-pandemic weekday ridership averaged 16,000 boardings in Somerville.   
 
MBTA heavy rail service in Somerville includes Red Line and Orange Line subways. The Davis Square Red Line station handled roughly 12,000 daily weekday passenger boardings (pre-pandemic) while the Assembly Square Orange Line station handled roughly 4,000 daily weekday boardings. Two subway stations just outside of Somerville’s boundaries offer additional access for Somerville residents, workers and visitors: Porter Square’s Red Line station and Sullivan Square’s Orange Line station. 
 
In 2022, Somerville is celebrating construction and opening of the MBTA Green Line Extension light rail service, which is providing five new transit stations in Somerville. This light rail service was planned and required as mitigation for the air pollution impacts of the “Big Dig” highway expansion decades ago. Stations include Union Square, East Somerville, Gilman Square, Magoun Square and Ball Square.
 

MBTA Bus Transit
 

MBTA Bus Network Redesign

In October 2022, the MBTA released a revised Bus Network Redesign map. Learn more at https://www.mbta.com/projects/bus-network-redesign
 

Resources

City of Somerville Transit Priorities and Improvements

Transit Priorities

Informed by the City’s comprehensive plan (SomerVision 2040), climate plan (Somerville Climate Forward), and transportation safety plan (Vision Zero), the City has created a list of transit priorities that inform efforts to support transit in our community. 

1. Accessible and reliable services

a. Ensure that all Somerville residents are in a 5 minute walk to quality transit service
b. Expand access to transit critical populations

2. Affordable transportation

a. Provide affordable quality transit to critical populations

3. Reduce driving

a. Achieve significant mode shift for commutes
b. Reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on Somerville’s roads
c. Increase number of jobs accessible from Somerville within 45 minute transit commute

4. Build streets for transit

a. Incorporate transit priority infrastructure, including transit signal priority, bus lanes or queue jumps, and enhanced bus stops in the design of all roadway reconstruction projects
b. Increase reliability to reach MBTA on-time performance goals
c. Work towards installing real time arrival information, improved lighting, and wayfinding at all rapid transit and high frequency bus stops

5. Manage growth

a. Use accurate data to understand growth and changing population and employment trends
b. Plan future high quality transit in areas of growth

Davis Square Signal Improvements

In collaboration with the MBTA, the City of Somerville was awarded a Community Connections Grant from the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to install transit signal priority signals in Davis Square and improve crossings to make it safer for people walking, wheeling, and biking. The goal of the project is to prioritize vulnerable road users and buses through the intersection.
 

Image
Map of location of Davis Square traffic signals

The project includes installing new signal equipment with audible technology and countdown timers, implementing signal timing and phasing changes, adding transit signal priority and bike signals, posting new signage, and painting new pavement markings.

The crosswalk at Day Street and Elm Street will be moved to the northside of Day Street to improve safety for people crossing at Elm. The right turn lane on Highland onto College Ave will be removed and flex post protected bicycle facilities will be added. Transit signal priority will be installed to serve the buses traveling to, from, and through Davis Square. Signal timing and phasing changes will address crossing safety issues at Highland Ave (left turn) and Dover street, and the College Ave crossing at Highland Ave. Bike signals will be implemented at Highland Ave and the Davis Square Busway.

The City began construction on the curb changes (curb cuts and crosswalks) in the Fall of 2022. The new signals will be implemented in 2023.

Central Broadway Quick-Build Bus Lanes

In 2019, the City implemented 24/7 bus lanes and protected bike lanes heading northbound on Broadway from Temple Street to Main Street as part of the Winter Hill in Motion project in collaboration with the MBTA. The goal of the project was to reduce bus delay, enhance bus reliability, increase bus ridership, and provide safer bike facilities to support more sustainable transportation. The MBTA paired the rollout of new pavement markings and signal timings with an increase of daily bus trips to the Route 89 schedule. 

Following implementation, there was an average increase of 30% in ridership, a reduction of vehicle volumes during morning and evening rush hours, and a reduction in average speeding.

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Programs & Initiatives

Shared Mobility
The City has been working for several years to understand and plan for new forms of shared mobility, including bike share, ride-hailing...
Traffic Signal Timing Improvements
In late June, 2018, the City of Somerville will be performing signal timing changes in Davis Sq. to reduce wait times for everyone.
The Pavement and Sidewalk Management Program aims to make transportation easier and safer for all of Somerville's residents.
Vision Zero Somerville
Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone has announced Somerville’s commitment to the Vision Zero Initiative, which aims to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries

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