With National Bicycle Month underway, a new
group of cyclists and pedestrians in Chelsea are looking to create momentum and
visibility on safety issues for those that aren’t using vehicles.
The Chelsea Bike and Pedestrian Committee
has formed over the winter and got things rolling with their first community
bike ride on May 8. Now, they said they would continue those rides every Weds.
evening at 6 p.m.
Resident Asad Rahman, an avid cyclist who
commutes to Boston daily from his Broadway home, has been involved in biking safety
issues for a number of years and said he worked with City Planners to try to
get more of a community built around bicycling and walking.
While he thought it might take some time,
surprisingly the movement has grown quickly and they are already planning their
first event and several events beyond that.
“More than ever, I think Chelsea is at a
crossroads to put people and bicycles first instead of cars,” he said. “We’re a
City with five or six street lights and several thousand people and cars go
very, very fast. We hope we can shift the paradigm that people come first and
cars come second…Right now we have a passionate group of people in Chelsea, and
we’ll ride around town on May 8th for about a half-hour and then have a social
time to continue building this community.”
With the help of the City and MassBike, the
Committee is planning several events such as a Bike Repair workshops and a bike
rodeo – this coming at future City events like Fiesta Verano and the Night
The group is on Facebook at BikeWalkChelsea,
and anyone interested in joining them can show up at City Hall 6 p.m. on May 8.
The Vision for the Committee includes:
•To advance cycling and walking as leading
modes of transportation in order to promote the health, wealth, and quality of
life for Chelsea residents.
The Mission of the Committee is:
safe, interconnected, and enjoyable infrastructure in Chelsea for cycling and
walking, through strategy with the Planning and Development department,
resident education on practical use, and community engagement to build
awareness and enthusiasm.
The Massachusetts Department of
Transportation (MassDOT) began the closure of one of three southbound travel
lanes on Route 1 in Chelsea and the Tobin Bridge the morning of Tuesday, May
14, snarling traffic in many parts of Everett as commuters looked for an
The public was also reminded the one-lane
northbound closure on the Tobin Bridge and Route 1 was expanded the morning of
Tuesday, May 14. MassDOT anticipates that these lane closures will lead to
increased travel times on sections of Route 1 northbound and southbound for
drivers and MBTA bus customers for months to come.
These traffic impacts are associated with
MassDOT’s Tobin Bridge/Chelsea
Curves Rehabilitation Project and lane closures will remain in place for
approximately two years. Additional overnight lane closures will be necessary
throughout the project meaning only one lane of travel may be open during
certain evening hours.
In order to accommodate travelers during
this necessary construction work, MassDOT is opening the I-93 southbound
carpool lane between Medford and the Zakim Bridge to all vehicles regardless of
the number of occupants. This lane will continue to function as an “express
lane” and vehicles in this lane on I-93 southbound will not have access to Exit
28 (Mystic Avenue) or Exit 26 (Storrow Drive).
“North Shore commuters should be aware that
beginning the morning of Tuesday, May 14, a travel lane will be closed on Route
1 southbound in Chelsea, and the lane closure that is already in place on the
Tobin Bridge and Route 1 northbound will be expanded,” said Highway
Administrator Jonathan Gulliver last Friday. “MassDOT is carrying out this
necessary rehabilitation work in order to ensure the continued use and
reliability of Tobin Bridge and Chelsea Viaduct. We appreciate the cooperation
and patience of the traveling public and advise everyone to make smart
decisions such as considering public transit, using the appropriate technology
apps to find the best route and time to travel, and building extra time into
their commutes to account for potential roadway congestion.”
Travelers are also reminded of options such
as free fares in the inbound direction on the MBTA Silver Line 3 bus line
offered at the Chelsea, Bellingham Square, Box District, and Eastern Avenue
stops for the duration of construction. In addition, public transit customers
will be able to use a CharlieCard to travel between North Station and Chelsea
on the Commuter Rail. The MBTA is also running additional MBTA Blue Line trains
to increase capacity. These measures are all being funded by MassDOT Highway
Division project funds.
MassDOT is also advising the public to also
consider using the Haverhill or Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail lines and
note that the Haverhill Line historically has parking capacity at Haverhill and
Bradford stations. The Newburyport/Rockport Line historically has parking
capacity at Newburyport, Salem and Lynn station. Customers can monitor
@MBTA_Parking on Twitter for capacity updates and information. In
addition, the MBTA has installed a digital parking capacity sign at the Blue
Line Wonderland parking lot so drivers approaching the lot can get “real time”
information on parking availability.
carrying out work on the Tobin Bridge and Chelsea Curves section of Route 1 at
the same time so that the most impactful work will be completed by 2021. If the
projects were done at separate times, drivers would be inconvenienced for
additional years. This work will eliminate the need for weight restrictions and
postings, and MassDOT will use accelerated construction techniques to shorten
the overall construction time.
A major $9.5 million improvement project for
the one-mile stretch of Broadway from City Hall Avenue to the Revere line could
get underway by the spring of 2022.
On Thursday, March 21, the Massachusetts
Department of Transportation held a public hearing on the preliminary design
plans for the roadway reconstruction. Although the state officials and
engineers outnumbered the residents in attendance for the meeting, there was a
good amount of information provided on the shape, scope, and timeline of the
road reconstruction project.
“We are finishing the 25 percent design
stage,” said Larry Cash, the MassDOT project manager. “After this hearing, we
will be advancing to the final design stage.”
The purpose of the project is to increase
safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles along the Broadway corridor
and intersecting streets in the city, according to Weston and Sampson engineer
Larry Keegan. He said there will be new turn lanes, additional vehicle stacking
room, and traffic signals at the project intersections allowing for the safer
turning of vehicles and improved safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. The
plans also include dedicated bicycle lanes through the one-mile stretch.
“There have been 97 collisions over a
three-year period” along that portion of Broadway,” said Keegan. “That is above
the state average.”
Keegan pointed to poor intersection layout,
outdated traffic signals, and deficient pedestrian, bicycle, and public transit
accommodations as being among the chief culprits for the high number of
accidents. All of those issues will be addressed during the roadway
reconstruction, he said.
In addition to the repaving of the road
itself, a major component of the work includes new sidewalks and improved
Sidewalk improvements will mean the removal
of some trees.
“The existing trees are old and unhealthy,
lifting up the sidewalks themselves so that they are not ADA (Americans with
Disabilities Act) compliant,” said Keegan.
Other areas that will get major upgrades are
the MBTA bus stops along the route. Keegan noted that there is deterioration of
pavement and pavement markings from years of use along the mile of Broadway,
and that the deterioration is especially pronounced at the bus stops.
The proposed project will require permanent
and temporary easements from adjacent property owners, but Cash said those
easements are either temporary to allow for construction work along the road,
or are for the installation or minor regrading of sidewalks.
As with any project that involves ripping up
pavement and sidewalks to make way for improvements, there will be traffic and
construction impacts once work gets underway.
But Keegan said the plan is to keep
disruptions to a minimum and traffic flowing as easily as possible.
“No detours are anticipated at this time,”
During the day, the plan is to have a single
lane of traffic closed and have the traffic managed by police. At night, there
will be two-way traffic, according to Keegan. Access to schools, businesses,
and residences will be kept open as much as possible, he added.
Chelsea resident John Gunning asked if the
bus stops would remain in the current locations and if there would be
improvements to the bus shelters.
Keegan said engineers will be working with
the MBTA during the next phase of design to address some of those issues.
“The T wants certain things and the city
wants certain things (for the bus stops),” he said. “We are looking at
different options at this point.”
Dunning said he would like to see fresh, new
bus shelters and stops that will complement the surrounding area and completed
Cash said design,
permitting, and right of way acquisition for the project will continue through
2019 and 2020 with construction anticipated to start in the spring of 2022.
The Massachusetts Department of
Transportation (MassDOT) announced the Department will be rehabilitating the
surface of the Tobin Bridge and complete required maintenance to improve the
structure which will require lane closures and result in significant traffic
impacts on the Tobin Bridge and Chelsea Curves section of Route 1
beginning April 1.
These impacts will lead to increased travel
times on sections of Route 1 northbound and southbound for drivers and MBTA bus
The Department also released details about
transit options available to travelers such as free fares in the inbound
direction on the SL3 bus line offered at the Chelsea, Bellingham Square,
Box District, and Eastern Avenue stops for the duration of construction. The
MBTA also announced that they will be running additional MBTA Blue Line trains
to additional capacity, and these measures will be funded by MassDOT Highway
Division project funds.
Beginning April 1, lane closures on the
Tobin Bridge northbound will be put in place, although two of three travel
lanes will be open during daytime hours. One of the three travel lanes on the
Tobin Bridge northbound will be open during overnight hours.
Beginning by early May, Route 1 travel lanes
in the Chelsea Curves area will be reduced so that two of three north
and southbound travel lanes will be open in the daytime. One of three north and
southbound travel lanes will be open during overnight hours.
“MassDOT is carrying out simultaneous work
on this infrastructure which was constructed in the middle of the
20th century and hasn’t been rehabilitated since the 1970s in order to
ensure its continued use and reliability and minimize the overall impact on
commuters and the local community,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan
Gulliver. “We thank travelers for their patience as MassDOT begins this
necessary project, and we encourage everyone traveling throughout the Route 1
area to make smart commuting decisions such as considering public transit,
using the appropriate technology apps to find the best route and time to
travel, and building extra time into their commutes to account for potential
The MBTA said they will be offering the free
fares on the Silver Line and the Commuter Rail during construction.
“During construction, free fares are being
offered for Silver Line 3 (SL3) inbound customers at certain station stops and
additional Blue Line train capacity is being added. In addition, public transit
customers will be able to use a CharlieCard to travel between North Station and Chelsea on
the Commuter Rail,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Some MBTA
customers on certain bus routes will experience delays, so we urge riders to
consider taking advantage of these additional travel options being offered
MassDOT’s traffic modeling suggests that on
Route 1 northbound, afternoon peak travel times could increase in duration and
have significant delays. Vehicle backups are expected to extend onto the I-93
ramps, along the Leverett Connector, and towards Rutherford Avenue. On Route 1
southbound, morning peak travel times could similarly increase in duration with
significant delays expected.
MassDOT is carrying out work on the Tobin
Bridge and Chelsea Curves section of Route 1 at the same time so that
these projects will be completed in 2021. If the projects were done at separate
times, drivers would be inconvenienced for additional years. This work will
eliminate the need for weight restrictions and postings, and MassDOT will use
accelerated construction techniques to shorten the overall construction time.
For more information on traffic conditions
travelers are encouraged to:
•Dial 511 before heading out onto the
roadways and select a route to hear real-time conditions.
“http://www.mass511.com” t “_blank” www.mass511.com, a
website which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information,
access to traffic cameras, and allows users to subscribe to text and email
alerts for traffic conditions.
•Follow MassDOT on Twitter @MassDOT to receive
regular updates on road and traffic conditions.
•Check parking availability at the T’s 8
largest garages @MBTA_Parking.
•Download MassDOT’s GoTime mobile app and view
real-time traffic conditions before setting out on the road.
In a move that could dramatically reduce the
commute times for Chelsea 111 bus riders, the City of Boston announced they are
planning on installing a dedicated bus lane on North Washington Street from
Causeway to Haymarket – a key clogging point for riders heading into Haymarket
It would be a move that would accommodate
the 111 bus routes and two Charlestown bus routes, and Boston officials said
the new lane could reduce travel times by as much as 25 percent.
“We are planning on building an exclusive
bus lane on North Washington Street from the intersection at Causeway Street
after the bridge to Haymarket,” said Vineet Gupta, director of planning at the
Boston Transportation Department (BTD). “It would be a dedicated bus lane 24/7
on the inbound side. Right now, we’re working with the MBTA to install that bus
BTD Director Gina Fiandaca said they have
been working closely with Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and the MBTA on the North
Washington Street bus lane, and hope that they can get it done as early in 2019
as possible. She said that stretch of the bus route is often the most
congested, and riders often find themselves waiting longer on the bus for the
last leg than it would take them to walk.
“This inbound bus lane will have the
opportunity to move along at a quicker pace than the rest of the traffic,” she
said. “Another good part of this is in the future when the North Washington
Street Bridge is completed, it will have a bus lane as well. That will provide
a connection with this new lane to have one unbroken exclusive bus lane from
Charlestown when the Bridge is done.”
In order to accomplish the new lane, the
City will have to remove some metered parking spaces and a commercial parking
space, but a large chunk of the stretch is a large bus stop and ‘no parking’
Gupta said they have no clear data yet on
the time it could save commuters going inbound – though they will begin keeping
that data very soon. However, in Roslindale where they installed a bus lane last
year, commutes were shortened by 25 percent. The same data also presented
itself in Everett two years ago when they put a dedicated bus lane on Broadway
The announcement was one of several made by
Boston Mayor Walsh at the Greater Boston Municipal Research Bureau meeting on
The North Washington Street bus lane would be
the first one in effect 24 hours a day in Boston.
When the Lime Bike rental program returns to
the streets of Chelsea this spring, riders might notice a little extra oomph in
Chelsea took part in a program with Lime
Bike, along with 16 neighboring communities, last year. Council President
Damali Vidot said the bike rentals will be up and running again this year.
However, there will be a difference this
year, as Lime is unveiling electric-assisted bicycles throughout the region.
Because electric bicycles are currently not
allowed in Chelsea, Vidot has introduced an ordinance to the City Council that
would allow for the vehicles as long as they do not travel faster than 15 miles
“Since the late Summer of 2017, the City of
Chelsea has been experimenting with dockless bikes, initially as a pilot with
the company Ofo and then, last year, as part of a regional Metropolitan Area
Planning Council (MAPC) contract with Lime Bike,” City Manager Tom Ambrosino
stated in a letter to the Council. “Notwithstanding some minor complaints, I
believe the experiment has been successful.”
Last year, more than 4,000 people used the
dockless bikes in Chelsea, taking almost 20,000 separate trips, according to
the city manager.
“The City would like to continue this
dockless bike program in 2019,” stated Ambrosino. “However, there has been a
change in the marketplace for dockless bikes. All the companies in this arena
are moving away from pedal powered bikes to electric assisted bikes, including
To continue with the regional effort with
Lime and allow the bikes in Chelsea, the City will have to change the current
ordinance that prohibits the vehicles.
“Over the past month, we have explored the
options of replacing Lime Bike with another company that might offer dockless
pedal only bikes, but no operator is interested in the restriction,” Ambrosino
While the change in the ordinance would
allow for the electric-assisted bicycles, Ambrosino said there are no plans in
the works to allow for electric scooters to operate on public streets.
“I am just alerting the Council that the use
of such scooters may soon become ubiquitous in surrounding communities,” he
Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda said he’s
looking forward to the transportation upgrade.
“I’m looking forward to them,” he said. “I
took a practice ride, and it was quite fun.”
•In other transportation-related news,
Ambrosino told the City Council it should keep the future appearance of
autonomous vehicles in the back of its mind.
“Right now, testing of such vehicles is
underway in Boston and other communities,” he said.
As with the electric-assisted bicycles, the
Council would have to adjust its ordinances to allow for autonomous,
self-driving vehicles. A MassDOT and MAPC agreement could allow for a pilot
route for the vehicles in the Industrial District.
“It is likely to be some time before
autonomous vehicles actually appear on this pilot route,” Ambrosino said.
“Again, such testing cannot occur until the City has given express permission.
However, I just wanted to give the Council notice that this transportation
innovation is moving forward and may someday make its way to Chelsea.”
A roomful of commuters and elected officials
roundly rejected proposed MBTA fare hikes during a public meeting on Wednesday,
Feb. 27, at the State Transportation Building in Boston.
Steve Poftak, general manager of the MBTA, outlined
the increases, which would go into effect July 1 and raise fares an average of
6.3 percent system-wide.
Under the proposal, the cost of a local bus
Charlie Card would increase to $1.80 from $1.70 while a subway Charlie Card
would rise to $2.40 from the current $2.25. The monthly LinkPass, which
provides unlimited bus and subway travel for one customer, would jump to $90
from $84.50, and a seven-day LinkPass would rise to $22.50 from $21.25.
The proposed fare increase would bring in
$32 million in additional revenue to help recoup losses against the budget
shortfall of $111 million projected for the next fiscal year.
The last hike came in July of 2016, which
raised fares an average of 9.3 percent across the system, but since that time,
the Legislature has passed a law limiting fare hikes to a maximum of 7
percent every two years.
After Poftak’s opening remarks, City
Councilor Michelle Wu presented T officials with a petition she circulated
calling for unlimited year-round passes for seniors and children, as well as a
lower fare for the city’s poorest residents, which had already garnered 2,700
signatures by the time the meeting commenced.
“This moment in history demands aggressive
action against the threats of income inequality and climate change,” Wu said.
“Sustainable, affordable, reliable public transit is fundamental to providing
Boston residents with the greatest access to jobs, schools, and opportunities
beyond their home neighborhoods.”
State Rep. Adrian Madaro, who represents
East Boston, read from a letter on behalf of the Boston Legislative Delegation
urging the MBTA board of directors to hold off on fare hikes at this time.
“Public transportation is a vital resource
for residents of Boston, and especially for low-income individuals, seniors and
students who rely on MBTA service as their primary means of transportation,”
the letter read in part. “We realize fares bring needed revenue to the
operations of our public transportation system, but understanding how higher
fares affect these vulnerable populations is essential to striking the right
balance between funding and public accessibility to transportation services. We
believe that there needs to be a more in-depth discussion with the MBTA about
the background and reasoning for this proposal prior to the imposition of any
James White, chairman of MBTA Accessibility
Advisory Committee for the past 18 years, advised against raising fare until
after planned improvements are made to the Red and Orange lines, including the
replacement of both fleets by 2023.
In response to the MBTA’s own projection
that a fare hike would amount to a 1.3-percent loss in ridership, State Rep.
Andy Vargas, who represents Haverhill, said, “At a time when we have increased
ridership on the T, we should be doing everything we can to encourage that.”
State Rep. Tommy Vitolo, who represents
Brookline, took to the podium with a can of Arizona Iced Tea in hand.
costs 99 cents, says it right on the can,” he said. “It has cost 99
cents for 18 years. What the good people of Arizona Iced Tea figured out is if
you don’t improve the quality of the tea, you don’t raise the prices,”
Vitolo said before drinking from the can as the audience applauded him.
The fare increase would put an even bigger
burden on commuters living outside the city as illustrated by statements from
Egan Millard, a 27-year-old Weymouth resident who works in Cambridge and
currently pays $217.75 for his monthly commuter rail and subway pass.
“I, and I’m sure
most T riders, already feel we’re paying too much for such abysmal service,”
Millard said “Commuter rail service is so infrequent I have to plan my entire
day and sometimes week around it. I have lost, at this point, days of my life
on the T that I can’t get back.”
State Rep. Dan Ryan said this week he is
pleased in what is considered a step up in becoming the vice chair of the Post
Audit Oversight Committee – a powerful committee that runs investigations of
government operations and actually has subpoena powers.
“I want to thank Speaker DeLeo for this
appointment, and my House colleagues for voting to affirm his trust in me,”
said Ryan. “I look forward to working with Chairman Linsky and other committee
members in continuing to bring solid, cost-effective government programs to the
Ryan said Post-Audit Oversight certainly
isn’t a household name for most people in the Town, but said it has a unique
mission and is a sought-after committee on Beacon Hill.
“The Post-Audit Oversight Committee is a select House committee that has a
unique mission,” he said. “Members of the committee are tasked with ensuring
that State agencies are abiding by legislative intent and the program
initiatives put forth, by the legislature, through the budget process. When
necessary, the committee will work with administrative agencies to
propose corrective actions to best serve citizens of the Commonwealth.”
One of the most visible investigations
conducted by the Committee came several years ago in the previous
administration when the Department of Children and Families (DCF) came under
fire for its handling and management of numerous cases involving children.
Ryan has also been assigned as a member of
the Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Recovery Committee, and as a member of
the Transportation Committee.
•Just across the North Washington Street
Bridge, State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz came away with one of the biggest scores
for the Boston delegation in getting assigned as chair of the powerful Ways
& Means Committee.
Rep. Ryan said that having such an important
chair nearby will be very good for Charlestown as well as the North End. That
will particularly be apparent with projects like the North Washington Street
Bridge, which affects the North End as much as Charlestown.
Michlewitz told the Patriot-Bridge that he
is humbled by the appointment, and that while he has to build consensus across
the state, he will keep his district and Boston in the forefront.
“I am honored
that Speaker DeLeo believes I can do the job,” he said. “The first order of
business is creating and debating a $42.7 billion budget. A lot of work has
been done in committee, but we have a short timeframe to get a lot done. The
thing I was to stress is my district is my number one priority.”
Steve Poftak, who has been the MBTA General Manager for about a month, expresses his commitment to Chelsea during the inaugural Chelsea Transportation Task Force meeting at City Hall on Thursday, Jan. 24. The Task Force plans to continue meeting for the next six months regarding MBTA issues and the Better Buses program.
The people of Chelsea are demanding increased
frequency on the Silver Line, more reliability, and additional bus connections
from the MBTA. Over the next two years there will be three major construction
projects in Chelsea that will adversely impact bus traffic, and City leaders
and residents are concerned that the already poor services will worsen.
“There have been big shifts in population and
ridership, and the bus routes have stayed largely the same,” admitted Steve
Poftak, the newly appointed MBTA General Manager. “The T is playing catch-up.”
On January 24, Poftak sat with locals and
members of the City Council during the first inaugural Chelsea Transportation
Task Force meeting at City Hall. The goal of the committee is to gather once a
month for six months of interactive discussions with the community and Poftak
to develop solutions.
“For a lot of us who live on both of the
hills, buses are the only means of transportation,” commented a Bellingham
Square resident. “Every year or two, they threaten to cut off both of the
hills. That would leave us totally stranded, and I’m not having it.”
Many aren’t content with the massive traffic
that builds with the 20 minute rising and 20 minute lowering of the Chelsea
Street bridge, which slows bus travel. The MBTA noted that active discussions
with the Coast Guard regarding the creation of a period of time during peak
hours of commuting when the bridge does not open have been hindered by the
“We have limited control over the bridge.
Maybe we could have some predictability with windows when we know the bridge
will be active and when we know it won’t,” said Poftak.
The Better Bus Project is investigating the
quality of the current bus network and working on cost-neutral proposals that
will result in more frequent services for customers. Researchers have been
speaking with riders to learn more about where people’s trips begin and end,
the economic demographics of the area, and where jobs are located.
“We are advocating for fair mitigation,” expressed
Council President Damali Vidot. “We’ve needed quality service for years and are
working at a sub-par level. Chelsea was an afterthought in the Better Bus
Project. We want to make sure we’re getting the service we deserve.”
The Better Bus Project has 47 proposals for
changes in the MBTA bus system that will impact 63 out of the 180 routes in 35
of the 50 communities that are served. Proposals include removing bus routes
with low ridership, and re-investing resources elsewhere.
The Transportation Task Force is suggesting
more inspectors, less cancellations, and easier transfers between Chelsea and
Lynn on the Commuter Rail.
“We are re-imagining the infrastructure on
Broadway,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “We will be presenting the City
Council with alternatives that do away with two fast lanes to make travel
safer. One idea is incorporating a dedicated bus lane.”
Gentrification has also forced many Chelsea
residents to relocate to Lynn because of the high cost of rent. One Chelsea
resident, who works in Lynn, voiced that it takes her up to two hours to
commute from Lynn to Chelsea using public transportation. She commented that
the only line that directly connects Chelsea to Everett is the 112 bus, and
many avoid it due to the lifting of the bridge; and recommended that the 426
bus through Lynn could stop in Chelsea, as it already passes over the Tobin
“In the overall bus network redesign, people
on the north side of the city are particularly interested in going to Lynn and
Malden,” Poftak concluded.
Better Bus Project proposals will be available
at www.MBTA.com with maps and data. The MBTA will also be providing riders with
a warm place to view proposals at Haymarket Station, where they see the most response from Chelsea residents.