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Plan for Center backs off diagonal track, draws board approval

The Board of Selectmen has approved a plan for Route 60 and Mass. Ave. that gives a nod to safety and backs off a diagonal bicycle track, proposed at a well-attended meeting in January. Aimed at improving traffic flow, the plan has a new pedestrian crossing and bike lanes.

In a 5-0 vote, the board backed a less-innovative design, one that takes away as many as six parking spots on Mass. Ave. and proposes adding as many as eight spots along Mystic Street.

"I'm opposed to taking away any parking spots from the Center," said town resident Bob Radochia, who was focusing on the places in front of Cambridge Savings and the VFW building.

The plan would add a traffic signal at Swan Place and add bike lanes on both sides of Mass. Ave. in Arlington Center next year to improve access to the Minuteman Bikeway. One lane will cross the avenue next to a pedestrian crosswalk so westbound cyclists can cross the street more easily and extend the bikeway through Uncle Sam Park. That will bring the northwest segment of the path as far as the sidewalk at Mass. Ave. and Route 60.

A $290,000 grant from the state Department of Transportation will pay for about half of the $600,000 improvement project, DPW Director Mike Rademacher said.

Speaking in favor of the plan was Scott Smith, a member of the Transportation Advisory Committee, which had input into decisions following the January hearing. He called the proposal "a better separation of three groups" -- motorists, pedestrian and cyclists.

Mark Kaepplein, a town resident who has been critical of accommodations for cyclists, called the plan "one of the better options" and said the shortening of the time for pedestrians to cross has been reduced by only two seconds.

Selectmen also gave preliminary approval of a plan that would bring temporary art installations to Mass. Ave. in East Arlington.

John Budzyna, executive director of the Arlington Center for the Arts, and Jane Howard, cochair, Vision 2020 Standing Committee, presented the plan, which called for rotating exhibits in three locations.

Three selectmen -- Kevin Greeley, Dan Dunn and Clarissa Rowe -- expressed enthusiasm for the plan.

Town Counsel Julian Rice said the installations should move forward only after Corridor sidewalks are improved. She said the selectmen should have final approval of what is installed.

75% plans submitted

In an issue related to Mass. Ave., Laura Wiener wrote in response to a query March 13 that the 75 percent plans for the Corridor project in East Arlington were submitted to the state on Feb. 29. "We hope to get comments back in about two months, but that is just an estimate," she wrote.

She wrote that there will be no more formal public hearings on the Corridor project. "We are planning an open house-style meeting to show the plans and answer questions, tentatively scheduled for early April," she wrote.

Schematic drawing on town website (.PDF)

For more, see Adam Auster's Word on the Street | March 13 story

Jan. 12: 70 hear options to address mix of vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians at Center

This story was first published Tuesday, March 13, 2012, and updated the next day with a new schematic and to add copy. Also updated March 19 to add link to schematic drawing on town website.

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