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In a column in this weeks Newton TAB, editor Andy Levin updates plans to overhaul Needham Street and Highland Ave, following news last week that the long-awaited, much-needed project would not go to bid in 2018 as scheduled.
 
As Levin clarifies (and Sean Roche addressed here) reports that the project was delayed following objections from bike advocates were unfounded.

As it turns out, a request for enhanced bicycle lanes and pedestrian accommodations by cycling advocates is not what caused a delay in the Department of Transportation’s timeline for the project. Instead, the DOT had previously decided to move the project back a year, from 2018 to 2019, because it had misjudged the time it would take to acquire frontage along the corridor, needed to widen the roadway. Simultaneously, DOT initiated the overall design review because the project has been in the works for so many years and may not be up to standards.

And then Levin continues by getting MassDOT to commit to doing a better job communicating going forward and to preview what ahead..

There is good news in all this: [David] Anderson [deputy chief engineer at MassDOT] said the design review would focus on improving the project in line with the state’s Complete Streets program, which aims to improve accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists. He said DOT is exploring the feasibility of creating bike lanes “by grade,” or at an elevated level to better protect cyclists from motorists on busy Needham Street. If the state is willing to pay for such an enhancement, I for one would be grateful (though even a simple bike lane would be better than the perilous situation that now exists).

It is very unfortunate that this long-delayed project is now one year behind schedule (with work to start in 2020 instead of 2019) but the good news is that is seems to be on track to correct some of the short comings of the original design.







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