State approves Cambridge's home rule petition for Inman Square safety improvements

Representative Mike Connolly is pleased to report that H.4634, the home rule petition relative to the City of Cambridge's Inman Square Intersection Improvement plan, was recently enacted by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Baker. A copy of the signed parchment is now available online

Inman Square is traversed daily by high volumes of drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders. It is a complex and unusually large intersection with a confusing layout and a large number of individual roadway approaches. This causes safety and operational challenges for all users, including multiple points of conflict between different modes. The intersection is a documented crash hot spot, with a crash average exceeding the average rate for signalized intersections in Massachusetts.

The City of Cambridge started to consider changes to Inman Square as far back as 2015, and the process of seeking state approval for the reconfiguration of traffic in Inman Square was initiated on June 4 of this year, when the Cambridge City Council voted to send this home rule petition to the legislature. Upon receipt of the petition, it was filed by Rep. Connolly and Sen. Sal DiDomenico and subsequently advanced through the legislature's Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government.

"As an avid cyclist and frequent patron of Inman Square businesses, and as someone who enjoys the Vellucci Community Plaza, I recognize the urgent need to protect our city’s tree canopy and improve safety for all users," Rep. Connolly stated in a letter to the Cambridge City Council announcing the approval of the petition.

"Moving forward, I will continue to encourage all residents and concerned parties to work with city officials to consider the best possible way to implement the Inman Square improvements. My hope is that the city will continue to consider refinements to the plan while working to mitigate its impact on our local businesses and tree canopy," Rep. Connolly added.  

Rep. Connolly would like to thank all of the constituents and advocates who have met with him over the course of the past year to discuss this matter on several occasions. Rep. Connolly encourages all interested parties to continue to make their voices heard at Cambridge City Hall, as he believe the city council is the legislative body best positioned to render decisions on local land use matters.

In 2015, the City began a process of studying the intersection in order to develop short and long term improvements. Findings were presented to the community in mid-2016, and short term improvements including restrictions on left-turns and bicycle intersection markings were implemented in the summer and fall of 2016, following the tragic loss of Cambridge cyclist Amanda Phillips. The process of designing permanent improvements to Inman Square began in late 2016 and continued throughout 2017. A number of different design options were developed and analyzed, and several public meetings were held; the presentation from one of the community presentations is available here.

The next steps of this process will be for the City of Cambridge to finalize the design, hold a community design open house, appropriate funding for the project, and begin construction pending the permitting process. As always, should you have any questions or concerns about this or any other matter, please do not hesitate to email [email protected] or call Rep. Connolly's office at (617) 722-2060.