October 16, 2023
Two and a half years ago, our legislative delegation called on MassDOT to make numerous improvements to McGrath Highway (Rt. 28) as part of the planning for the McGrath Highway resurfacing project. We called for new bike lanes with physical separation and other safety and physical infrastructure improvements. MassDOT responded by committing to put McGrath Highway on a "road diet" and further committing to physical separation and protection for new bike lanes, along with numerous other safety and physical infrastructure improvements.
Over the past two years, the initial phases of the resurfacing project have been ongoing, as repairs have been made to bridges and related infrastructure, and now, the resurfacing itself has been underway — which has raised questions for constituents who are asking about the status of the project and are wondering about latest details.
I am pleased to see MassDOT is following through on its commitment to put the McGrath Highway on a "road diet." The traffic modeling analysis showed that removing an automobile lane may increase automobile travel by half a minute or up to a minute along the mile-long corridor — a good trade for our community, as this will allow us to make the corridor much more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. It's also important to note how this project will move us a significant step closer to fulfilling the vision of "grounding McGrath" and replacing the McGrath Highway with a green, urban boulevard.
As requested, I have recently obtained the following update from MassDOT on the current status of the resurfacing project:
MassDOT is committed to and has implemented the road diet by providing two 11’ travel lanes in each direction. The pavement markings for the revised lane configuration commenced last week and should be substantially completed in the next week or so. The implementation of the road diet has created a wide variable width shoulder in areas along the corridor where the buffered/separated bike lanes will be located. This new, interim traffic pattern will remain in place while the construction work continues along the corridor. The overall work is approximately 70% complete. The work associated with installing the buffered bike lanes will occur in 2024 during the final stages of construction.
Attached is a progress plan showing the proposed locations for the additional delineators (shown in purple and orange in the attached plan) that will be used to provide some separation for the buffered bike lane in the final configuration. This plan continues to be developed by MassDOT’s Highway Design Section in collaboration with the City of Somerville. Also attached are excerpts from the contract plan set that show the final pavement marking configuration along the corridor, including the buffered bike facility. MassDOT is developing some additional modifications to address bicycle accommodation around the Highland Bridge in both directions and along a short segment near the Squires Bridge in the northbound direction.
Construction work scheduled for next year will include bridge repairs to southbound McCarthy Overpass and Squires Bridge, as well as the completion of all remaining resurfacing on 28 southbound from Washington Street to Third Street. The contractor will complete all final pavement markings including the separated buffered bike lanes project wide. This remaining work is scheduled to be completed in the fall 2024.
MassDOT’s appreciates your continued support for the road diet and the associated improvements for separated bike facilities.