Western Avenue is a public roadway that provides for various competing uses. The final design for the street and sidewalk was developed in collaboration with an Advisory Committee and extensive community input process resulting in a balance of all of these needs. The redesign considers all street users: walkers, bicyclists, bus riders and drivers.
River Street and Western Avenue serve as regional roadways connecting Cambridge, Somerville, and points north to the Mass Pike. Western Avenue also serves as a local street for the Riverside Neighborhood, home to retail establishments, a transit corridor, and a front yard to all who live on the street.
Design Phase 1: Investigation. Background transportation data were collected, project goals were established, and five concept alternatives were developed to identify the full range of potential options for Western Avenue. This is all summarized in the Community Design Process booklet (June 2010).
Design Phase 2: Develop Alternatives. After significant input from the community and advisory committee, the conceptual design for the surface was selected. See the Conceptual Design Selection booklet (October 2010).
Design Phase 3: Engineering. From October 2010 until April 2012, the project has been advanced to 100% engineering design and will go out to bid in May 2012. See the Final Design and Construction Booklet (January 2012).
We are very pleased to announce that $100,000 of the Western Avenue construction budget has been set aside to commission an artist to complete a public art project associated with Western Avenue. This is standard practice for large street rehabilitation projects.
The Cambridge Arts Council assembled an Art Jury to review artist portfolios. A representative of the Art Jury and the Cambridge Arts Council staff interviewed the Western Avenue Advisory Committee on June 17, 2010 to obtain community perspectives about the Western Avenue Reconstruction Project and the neighborhood in general. They brought this feedback to the Art Jury as a whole, who then narrowed down the field of potential artists. The Art Jury selected three artists as finalists: Vaughn Bell, Matthew Geller, and Matthew Mazzotta.
The artists were interviewed on September 2, 2010 by the Site Committee comprised of representatives from the Art Jury, Cambridge Arts Council staff, Public Art Commission, Community Development Staff, and the Western Avenue Advisory Committee. Matthew Mazzotta was chosen as the artist to be commissioned for the project. He met with the Advisory Committee and also participated in public meetings to talk to neighbors while formulating his ideas for the project.
The project is entitled Breaking Bread, an artist rendering can be viewed here. The location of this project within Cronin Park may be viewed here.
UPDATE: The project is undergoing additional community process with additional upcoming community meetings. Please click on the "Contact" tab and request to be added to our email distribution list to receive updates.
Public input process for the surface redesign ran from January 2010 through June 2011 and included eight Advisory Committee meetings, five neighborhood walks, and six public meetings.
- Background transportation data were collected, project goals were established, and five concept alternatives were developed to identify the full range of potential options for Western Avenue. This is all summarized in the Community Design Process booklet (June 2010).
- After significant input from the community and advisory committee, the conceptual design for the surface was selected. See the Conceptual Design Selection booklet (October 2010)
- From October 2010 until April 2012, the project has been advanced to 100% engineering design and will go out to bid in May 2012.
The following evaluation criteria was developed by city staff and the advisory committee to guide the design process:
- Traffic calming effect/vehicle speed reduction
- Pedestrian crossing safety
- Expanded sidewalk space
- Bicycle facility safety and comfort
- Bus operations and efficiency
- Rush hour vehicle capacity
- Parking availability
- Snow clearance and street cleaning
- Emergency vehicle access
- Construction cost
- Community support
In January, 2010, the City of Cambridge appointed an advisory committee to represent a cross-section of resident and business interests in the corridor. Advisory committee members will participate in meetings and discussions, review written material, and advise the city on design issues associated with the reconstruction of the Western Avenue corridor. These issues range from overall design of the street as a multi-modal corridor, to discussing surface material, lighting and plantings/green space.
Members of the Committee: Lawrence Adkins, Bill August, Mertin Betts, Velmer Brooks, Kathy Cannon, Abdullah Daoud, Reuben Dottin, Caitlin Gallagher, David Gibbs, Marvin Gilmore, Erin Gullage, Megan Krey, Marc Leuchner, Bob Nesson, Brad Nissenbaum, Eran Segev, Anne Shuhler, Artis Spears, Pastor Lawrence Ward.
- #1 February 23, 2010
- #2 March 16, 2010
- #3 April 15, 2010
- #4 April 27, 2010
- #5 May 26, 2010
- #6 June 17, 2010
- #7 October 5, 2010
- #8 February 1, 2011 (rescheduled from 1/26 snow)
Community-wide Public Meetings
- #1 March 31, 2010
- #2 June 29, 2010
- #3 November 3, 2010
- #4 February 13, 2011
- #5 March 15, 2011
These informal walks were led by city staff with occasional outside guests. The walks provided opportunities for neighbors to learn more about the project, and provide input to city staff. The walks were free and open to the public. Each walk started near Central Square, went down Western Avenue to the Charles River, and back. View some photos of past walks.
- Proposed Conceptual Design Walk: Thursday October 28, 2010, 5:30 P. M. Led by Jeff Rosenblum, Project Manager for Western Avenue surface design, Community Development Department.
- Concepts Walk: Sunday June 27, 2010, 4:00 P. M. Led by Jeff Rosenblum, Project Manager for Western Avenue surface design, Community Development Department.
- Project Overview Walk: Monday April 5, 2010, 6:00 P. M. to 7:30 P. M. Led by Jeff Rosenblum, Project Manager for Western Avenue surface design, Community Development Department
- Human Centered Design Walk: Monday April 12, 2010,6:00 P. M. to 7:30 P. M. Led by Chris Hart, Institute for Human Centered Design and Michael Muehe, Executive Director, Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities.
- Traffic, Signals, and Stop Signs Walk: Monday April 26, 2010, 6:00 P. M. to 7:30 P. M. Led by Jeff Parenti, City Traffic Engineer.
Please see the Department of Public Works construction webpage for additional information.
Construction begins September 2012. Construction on this project will take approximately two years to complete. General work hours will be 7AM to 4 PM, Monday-Friday. “No Parking” signs will be posted at least 24 hours in advance of construction; please be sure to check posted signs for exact dates and times. When work occurs directly in front of driveways or entryways, the contractor will coordinate access directly with residents and businesses. Every effort will be made to maintain as much parking as possible, and pedestrian, bicycle and MBTA access will be maintained. The contractor and police details will coordinate access to neighbors’ private property if needed.