Western Avenue

Western Avenue sketch
Click here for the Final Design and Construction booklet

Western Avenue reconstruction began in Summer 2012, and is expected to be completed by Fall 2014. The underground stormwater and sewer system, roadway, and sidewalks will all be replaced from Franklin Street to Memorial Drive.

The new design features:

  • Two vehicle travel lanes from Pleasant St. to Blackstone Street
  • One vehicle travel lane from Mass. Ave. to Pleasant Street
  • Parking will remain on both sides of the street
  • Pedestrian safety will be improved by adding new crosswalks and curb extensions, constructing raised crosswalks at unsignalized side streets.
  • The intersection at Pleasant St., Franklin St., and Western Ave. are all being rebuilt to significantly improve pedestrian safety.
  • A separated bicycle lane (raised "cycle track") will be added
  • Installation of new street trees, planting beds, trash/recycling containers, bus shelters, and energy efficient streetlights
  • Cronin Park will be enlarged, landscaped, and enhanced with a rain garden and a commemorative installation “Celebrate the Coast”

The latest from Department of Public Works

The Works iconPlease click here for DPW's website with the most up-to-date information on construction. 

Celebrate the Coast Initiativenew

The City has allocated funds to incorporate the rich history and stories of the Riverside Neighborhood, aka “The Coast,” into a permanent commemorative installation to be located in the small park at the corner of Western/Pleasant/Franklin, and small bronze inlays along the Avenue, celebrating historical places, and events.

A Community meeting was held on Thursday October 17, 2013 at the Cambridge Community Center where ideas and input about the rich history of “The Coast’, were discussed by residents. On Tuesday December 10, 2013 neighborhood residents had the opportunity to meet the artist and view preliminary concepts based on information received from the community meeting.

The artist has continued to work with the ideas and concepts presented at the community meetings; the final design will include 13 bronze inlays located along Western Avenue with historic images of The Coast Neighborhood, these inlays will be placed from Cronin Park to Memorial Drive. A reconfigured Cronin Park located at the intersection of Pleasant Street, Franklin Street and Western Avenue will include a perforated stainless steel sculpture with light emanating from within, built on a granite base with a bronze relief located at the base of the structure which will include historic images of The Coast Neighborhood.

For more information call or email Elaine Thorne, ethorne@cambridgema.gov, 617/349-4648.

Western Avenue Redesign downloads

Booklet 3 Booklet 2 Booklet 1 
#3 Final Design and Construction Booklet (January 2012)  #2 Conceptual Design Selection Booklet (October 2010) #1 Community Design Booklet (June 2010)


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).

The City has allocated funds to incorporate the rich history and stories of the Riverside Neighborhood, aka “The Coast,” into a permanent commemorative installation to be located in the small park at the corner of Western/Pleasant/Franklin, and small bronze inlays along the Avenue, celebrating historical places, and events.

A Community meeting was held on Thursday October 17, 2013 at the Cambridge Community Center where ideas and input about the rich history of “The Coast’, were discussed by residents. On Tuesday December 10, 2013 neighborhood residents had the opportunity to meet the artist and view preliminary concepts based on information received from the community meeting.

The artist has continued to work with the ideas and concepts presented at the community meetings; the final design will include 13 bronze inlays located along Western Avenue with historic images of The Coast Neighborhood, these inlays will be placed from Cronin Park to Memorial Drive. A reconfigured Cronin Park located at the intersection of Pleasant Street, Franklin Street and Western Avenue will include a perforated stainless steel sculpture with light emanating from within, built on a granite base with a bronze relief located at the base of the structure which will include historic images of The Coast Neighborhood.

For more information call or email Elaine Thorne, ethorne@cambridgema.gov, 617/349-4648.

This initiative is sponsored by the Community Development Department and the Department of Public Works, and is not affiliated with the Cambridge Arts Council. The Cambridge Arts Council’s “Breaking Bread” project will no longer be incorporated into Cronin Park and instead may be considered at a different location in the city.

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

Advisory Committee

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

Community Walks

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 began September 2012. This project will take approximately two years to complete. General work hours will be 7:00 A. M. to 4 P. M., Monday to 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.

For more information contact Jeff Rosenblum at 617/349-4615 or jrosenblum@cambridgema.gov.