UNION SQUARE STREETSCAPE AND WATER MAIN PROJECT GETS UNDERWAY WITH DESIGN STUDY

$700,000 project will start design process for significant water and sewer upgrades and shape square’s future as walkable, bikeable, transit-accessible destination and neighborhood

SOMERVILLE
- Plans for significant updates to the Union Square streetscape as well as the
square's below-ground utilities took an important step forward this week. On
Monday, July 8th, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone announced that international
consulting firm Parsons Brinkerhoff has been selected for a wide-ranging
utility and roadway improvement study in Union Square that will launch the
design and pre-engineering process for the project. The design process, which
will be informed by significant public input, will review and address both the
above- and below-ground needs for Union Square now and into the future.

 

"This
project will help us shape our greater vision for Union Square as a walkable,
bikeable, transit-accessible community hub, but we will not overlook the very
real need to address the utility problems in the area," Mayor Curtatone said.
"This study will help us identify the best solutions for mitigating flooding in
this area in an environmentally sensitive way. We may
love our Victorian homes in Somerville, but a turn-of-the-century water and
sewer system is no longer good enough. We will build the modern infrastructure
needed to protect our homes and allow the square to become an even more vibrant
town center."  

 

The
project will build on the 2002 Union Square Transportation Plan and a detailed
2009 study of transportation-related data in the square that yielded three
recommendations and a design report for preferred alternatives. The aim of the
streetscape improvements is to improve access, flow and safety for all modes of
transportation and to maximize the usable, central public open space in the
square, including the plaza. The proposed design will seek to update the plaza and streetscape
designs, create an improved traffic flow and signal system, and a bus
route and stop system consistent
with plans for the Urban Ring and the Green Line Extension. Utility
improvements aim further the City's goal of separating our water and sewer
system, as well as adding much needed capacity to the current system.

 

"Union
Square residents have been waiting a long time for these roadway improvements
and I am pleased that not only is this project moving forward, but that it
includes much needed utility improvements that better our residents' quality of
life," Ward 3 Alderman Tom Taylor said. "These improvements will both help
showcase all that Union Square has to offer and address the day-to-day services
that our residents rely on. It is pragmatic investment in City infrastructure
and a forward-looking plan to further invigorate the square."

 

"The
rehabilitation of existing water and sewer utilities and construction of new
infrastructure included in this project are critical steps to addressing
flooding in Union Square," Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston said. "In addition,
making Union Square safe for pedestrians, bicyclists and those taking public
transportation is key to keep the already flourishing neighborhood growing and
thriving. By addressing traffic flow, roadway configurations, sidewalks and
crosswalks, dovetailing with plans for the Green Line Extension, this project
will make it easier for residents to get around their neighborhood and invite
even more people to spend time in our wonderful neighborhood."

 

Parsons
Brinkerhoff will manage the project out of its Boston office and will
re-evaluate previous plans while working with the community, with the City
holding at least four public meetings to solicit public input. The firm will
identify any possible design alternatives and add utility improvement design
work before presenting a recommended design based on community feedback and
empirical data. That recommended design will also include a phased
implementation plan. The $700,000 contract will bring the project to 25 percent
of the design phase, which would then go before the Massachusetts Department of
Transportation for review.

 

"I
am excited to have an international firm like Parsons Brinkerhoff bring its
extensive expertise to Somerville's Union Square," Mayor Curtatone said. "We
are continuing to unlock the tremendous economic potential in this
neighborhood. It's one step in a multi-pronged approach, along with the Green
Line Extension, the grounding of McGrath Highway and the elimination of the
waste transfer station that will spur new growth, while making Union Square
both a destination for visitors and a thriving neighborhood."

 

 "Union Square's
strength as a major crossroads for road and rail is also a challenge for
transportation planning," said Mimi Graney, Union Square Main Streets executive
director. "We're looking forward to improvements that will create a safe
multimodal design that will meet the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers
and support the ongoing invigoration of the neighborhood. Greater clarity in
the roadway pattern will go a long way to assist visitors seeking out our
neighborhood's burgeoning businesses while improvements to public space will
foster even more pedestrian activity. Union Square Main Streets welcomes the
opportunity to work with the consultants to pull in community input and ideas.
I'm pleased that the City of Somerville is maintaining its commitment to invest
in the future of Union Square."