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Old 06-26-2019, 09:05 PM   #1
ccole
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Memorial Drive Greenway Phase III

Attended the second public meeting for this project last night. The scope is fairly substantial - 2 miles of the Memorial Drive Greenway from the BU Boathouse to the Eliot Bridge. The project scope includes reworking the BU Bridge Rotary/Reid Overpass intersection (three very early alternatives at the end of the slideshow). The DCR seems very intent on decreasing traffic speeds and vastly improving the public realm for pedestrians and cyclists.

Slideshow: https://www.mass.gov/files/documents...esentation.pdf

Last edited by ccole; 06-26-2019 at 10:01 PM.
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Old 06-27-2019, 10:43 PM   #2
FK4
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Re: Memorial Drive Greenway Phase III

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Originally Posted by ccole View Post
Attended the second public meeting for this project last night. The scope is fairly substantial - 2 miles of the Memorial Drive Greenway from the BU Boathouse to the Eliot Bridge. The project scope includes reworking the BU Bridge Rotary/Reid Overpass intersection (three very early alternatives at the end of the slideshow). The DCR seems very intent on decreasing traffic speeds and vastly improving the public realm for pedestrians and cyclists.

Slideshow: https://www.mass.gov/files/documents...esentation.pdf
My reactions:

I'm glad, but it's ridiculous it's taken this long, given the conditions of the path.

Makes sense to drop a lane on the final stretch, and consideration of a boardwalk is a good idea in places, too.

On another note, the state should have more strongly considered a wider replacement for the BU Bridge. It's charming, but it's far too narrow for the volume, regardless of your opinion on auto traffic or not. The entire issue at that rotary would be eliminated if there wasn't the absurd gridlock caused by that one exit.
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Old 06-28-2019, 10:17 AM   #3
sm89
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Re: Memorial Drive Greenway Phase III

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Originally Posted by FK4 View Post
My reactions:

I'm glad, but it's ridiculous it's taken this long, given the conditions of the path.

Makes sense to drop a lane on the final stretch, and consideration of a boardwalk is a good idea in places, too.

On another note, the state should have more strongly considered a wider replacement for the BU Bridge. It's charming, but it's far too narrow for the volume, regardless of your opinion on auto traffic or not. The entire issue at that rotary would be eliminated if there wasn't the absurd gridlock caused by that one exit.
It had been working much better until they reduced the capacity on the Boston side with the Comm Ave project. There used to be one lane up and two down on both sides with the change over being mid-span, but the new duel left onto the bridge from Comm Ave took at away. The one lane can't efficiently feed the Comm Ave intersection so it backs up into the rotary.
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Old 06-28-2019, 10:32 AM   #4
FK4
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Re: Memorial Drive Greenway Phase III

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It had been working much better until they reduced the capacity on the Boston side with the Comm Ave project. There used to be one lane up and two down on both sides with the change over being mid-span, but the new duel left onto the bridge from Comm Ave took at away. The one lane can't efficiently feed the Comm Ave intersection so it backs up into the rotary.
The new dual right turn, you mean? I think that has significantly eased congestion at the intersection, and as a side effect also made it much safer for bikes since there's a lot less aggressive jockeying by cars. Before the bridge was redone, I think there was a de facto dual right turn, not striped, but the lane was just wide enough for two cars abreast and was treated accordingly. Anyway, I feel like the rotary side traffic was about as bad before the recent changes... if they could increase flow, they also could widen the bike and ped ROW along the sidewalk, since that feels pretty meagre / unsafe.
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Old 06-30-2019, 08:03 PM   #5
sm89
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Re: Memorial Drive Greenway Phase III

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The new dual right turn, you mean? I think that has significantly eased congestion at the intersection, and as a side effect also made it much safer for bikes since there's a lot less aggressive jockeying by cars. Before the bridge was redone, I think there was a de facto dual right turn, not striped, but the lane was just wide enough for two cars abreast and was treated accordingly. Anyway, I feel like the rotary side traffic was about as bad before the recent changes... if they could increase flow, they also could widen the bike and ped ROW along the sidewalk, since that feels pretty meagre / unsafe.
Yes, sorry, the right turn. It made the Comm Ave intersection great, but created insane amounts of traffic in Cambridge leading up to the bridge. Gridlocked the BU rotary and Granite/Brookline intersection.
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Old 07-01-2019, 05:09 AM   #6
F-Line to Dudley
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Re: Memorial Drive Greenway Phase III

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Originally Posted by sm89 View Post
Yes, sorry, the right turn. It made the Comm Ave intersection great, but created insane amounts of traffic in Cambridge leading up to the bridge. Gridlocked the BU rotary and Granite/Brookline intersection.
I don't know if I'd call the bridge reconfig a straight-line gridlocking. The absolute worst part of the Memorial rotary is that it's completely unstriped, unsigned, and has absolute zero coordination between the DCR signals on the southerly side and the City of Cambridge signals at Waverley St. whose queues impact the rotary. And so it's left to anarchy: cars making 5 lanes out of 2, perpendicular merging, daredevils squeezing through impossibly narrow seams to find their ramp, and the 47 bus stranded for up to 10 minutes at a time unable to move because it's being eaten alive by the free-for-all. It's like one of those |_(ツ)_/ roundabouts in a square in Italy, only much slower. None of that has anything to do with the lanes on the bridge or the retouching of Comm Ave., and everything to do with absolutely horrible DCR oversight of the rotary-proper.

It's not going to be a good rotary by any means, but there are some common-sense things they can start with to tame the anarchy.
  • Paint. There is no reason for a rotary of that significance to not have lane markers. Shoulders should not only be bold but tiger-striped to discourage all that 5-on-2 merging nonsense. The ramps should have prominent arrows or repeating arrow-stripes. Look at how much better-marked City of Cambridge made the Waverley intersection compared to the typical ass-nothing DCR job a few feet away. Prominently-marked crosswalks (see how much wider the Waverley ones are vs. the rotary).
  • Signage. It's uniformly tiny all around the rotary. Most of the "Rotary" shields at each entrance have been missing for decades, and 1 of the 2 still left standing is covered in sticker graffiti. The wayfinding signage is sparse, tiny, and also heavily graffitied. There needs to be standard MassHighway rotary signage here, bigger and sooner wayfinding signage (OK if in smaller DCR style, just so long as it's positioned where it matters). And for the rest (crosswalks, yields, stop lines, approach warnings)...DCR just needs to follow AASHTO guidelines for once in its damn life.
  • Texture. I like how the bike lane permissive-right turn @ Waverley is done up as a notched concrete traffic island. It's durable material if the overall roadbed is in good shape, and resistant to snowplows. Since signage and striping alone isn't going to get quite enough people to behave with the anarchy merging, explore using material like this at the merges/splits to channel traffic in the correct lanes. I'd also rumble-strip the asphalt at the yellow line around the rotary to better discourage the extremely dangerous left-passing games. The notched concrete would particularly make the areas around crosswalks much safer...such as here where a sharper, less-dull/rounded lane split would keep peds from having to jump out of the way of last-nanosecond turns. CAVEAT: The roadbed on the rotary is pretty shot, so they would probably have to scrape all the way to the bare dirt like Cambridge did with Brookline St. several years ago to make sure it has a surface that's going to last.
  • Signaling. At very minimum, DCR's got to redo the bridge lights to triage queues from Comm Ave. or Waverley better. While the bridge itself doesn't get too horribly backed up 1000 ft. from the Boston side, the DCR lights very much do conflict with the City of Cambridge ones 500 ft. away. Some vague institutional awareness of signal coordination would be real nice here. I don't think Cambridge would mind giving up control of the Waverley signals to DCR if the state had a coherent re-timing plan. Meanwhile, studying whether any of the other legs of the rotary need signals is a must, though I'm not personally sure if or where it's needed.
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Old 07-01-2019, 11:24 AM   #7
sm89
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Re: Memorial Drive Greenway Phase III

The DCR has an interim striping plan that they're working on for the BU Rotary to be implemented this year. It will formalize the lanes and make it safer, though that won't affect traffic much. The Waverly/Brookline/Granite signal is DCR-owned and operated.
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