I went tonight to a planning meeting for Mass Ave between Harvard and Porter squares. The main focus of this series of meetings has been to develop a master plan for street improvements (sidewalk improvements, street tree improvements, site furniture and lighting regularization etc) in preparation for "future funding opportunities".
There are a couple of intersection/ crosswalk improvements that I believe are funded now, and the MBTA is reworking some of the bus stops to make them ADA compliant.
However, one thing that I was not expecting is that they do have a pot of money from Harvard and Leslie to pay to repave 90% of the stretch from the Common to Porter where it was damaged during construction of new buildings for those campuses. When they do, they're going to stripe it with bike lanes!!!
They don't have a firm date for when they're going to do the paving, but it's in the next year. This is great news to me, because I think it will help slow traffic, making the street less freeway-like, and create a better defined bike through-path. I just "ran the gauntlet" to get to porter sq on Monday night, and even with the sharrows and being an experienced cyclist, it's not much fun.
The masterplan calls for a more consistent sidewalk surface, which will be a travel path of concrete, a tree band, which will be slotted or saw cut concrete to provide a hard, mostly even surface which is still permeable to create better conditions for street trees, and then a brick feature strip along the curb.
In addition to specific pedestrian safety improvements, the desire is to generally create better texture and a more livable streetscape, through plantings, lights, street furniture etc, and trying to reclaim the feeling of a town center of little shops as opposed to a highway like arterial. The attitude in most of the crowd was, "can we do it tomorrow?" There was one city councilor who's a VC guy who spoke about being "ambivalent" about the bike lanes. He's the same guy who told me that my chunky heels weren't appropriate bicycling footwear at the snow removal meeting I went to. But most people were excited about both the pedestrian and bicycle improvements.
The "pull quote" for the night was when I was talking to a woman from the Community development office. I asked her if the MBTA was giving them pushback about the 10' travel lanes (as they are on the Boston side of Mass Ave at Symphony). She said "They're our streets, and we say that 10' is enough". HOORAY!