River Street Reconstruction

Take our survey to tell us how River Street works for you today!

The River Street Reconstruction project will upgrade the sanitary sewer, stormwater and water subsurface infrastructure while developing a new surface design for River Street, the bus terminal area at River and Magazine Streets near Central Square, and Carl Barron Plaza. The project aims to create a streetscape design that meets the needs of all the various users and in a way that engages the local community, contributes to overall enhancement of the neighborhood, and meets the City’s goals related to infrastructure, transportation, and urban design.

The concurrent design of Carl Barron Plaza, the significant open space at the heart of Central Square will include consideration of public art, fixed and/or unfixed furniture, access, plantings, and landscaping. The design must also consider the complexity of transportation needs related to the bus bays adjacent to the Plaza and people moving through the plaza.

The community outreach and design processes will occur throughout 2019 and into early 2020. Construction is anticipated to begin in Spring 2020.

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Tell us your thoughts

Click here to take our River Street user survey.

Click here to provide general comments and feedback.

The Public Input Map 

is now closed, but you can still access it through the link to see what input was provided on issues and opportunities along River Street and in Carl Barron Plaza. Soon we will be posting a survey to understand how you use River Street today so that we can use that input in the design and also compare to a similar survey after the construction is complete.


December 2019

The seventh Working Group meeting was held on Tuesday, December 17, from 6:00-8:00PM at the Manning Apartments, 1st Floor Community Room, 237 Franklin Street. At this meeting, Working Group members will discuss the feedback received on the preferred alternative for the River Street corridor between Memorial Drive and Auburn Street. We will also discuss and ask for feedback on conceptual designs for the section of River Street between Auburn Street and Massachusetts Avenue, including options for the general arrangement of the curbs, buses, and bicycle facilities around Carl Barron Plaza and the bus terminal area. You can see the meeting notice by clicking on the "Documents" tab. Click here to see the meeting notice.

We are currently in the early stages of developing a conceptual design for River Street so there is still plenty of time for you to provide comments through winter. The public is welcome to attend Working Group meetings, but the conversation at these meetings is focused on obtaining input and feedback from Working Group members. The concepts presented at working group meetings can be further refined and evaluated in more depth to develop a preferred concept. Members of the public can also provide input and feedback through our online feedback form, linked above.

November 2019

The second public meeting was held on Tuesday, November 19 from 6:30-8:30PM at the Putnam Upper School Cafeteria, 100 Putnam AvenueAt this meeting, attendees learned about the draft concept for the River Street corridor and provided feedback. The draft concept was developed with feedback from the community collected at the first public meeting, through online surveys and wikimaps, and through the River Street Reconstruction Working Group process.

City staff have posted links to the meeting flyer, agenda, presentation, fact sheet, and designs/roll plans on the "Documents" tab.

October 2019

The seventh Working Group meeting was held on Tuesday, October 22, from 6:00-8:00PM at the Manning Apartments, 1st Floor Community Room, 237 Franklin Street. At this meeting, Working Group members discussed concept plans for River Street from Auburn Street to Massachusetts Avenue, including Green Street, the MBTA bus terminal area, and Carl Barron Plaza. You can see the meeting presentation by clicking on the "Documents" tab.

We are currently in the early stages of developing a conceptual design for River Street so there is still plenty of time for input from now through winter. At upcoming meetings, the River Street Reconstruction Working Group is providing early input into early draft concepts that will then be refined for a public meeting. The public is welcome to attend Working Group meetings, but the conversation at these meetings is focused on obtaining input and feedback from Working Group members. A public meeting will be held on November 19, location TBD, to get in-depth input and feedback from members of the public. After the public meeting, the concepts can be refined and evaluated in more depth before we work with the Working Group and the public to develop a preferred concept to move forward with. 

September 2019

The sixth Working Group meeting was held on Tuesday, September 24, from 6:00-8:00PM at the Manning Apartments, 1st Floor Community Room, 237 Franklin Street. At this meeting, Working Group members discussed concept plans based on stakeholder input for River Street from Memorial Drive to just west of Auburn Street. The meeting materials have been posted as they become available.

August 2019

We have decided to reschedule the engagement in Carl Barron Plaza that had been planned for Saturday, September 14th and Tuesday, September 17th. This more detailed engagement on the future design of the plaza will likely occur later in the fall. In the meantime, we will be continuing interactive outreach about the River Street project more generally and working with our partners to continue to gather input on Carl Barron Plaza until the process is at a point where we can discuss the design in more detail with the public. This does not change our overall project schedule. 

Check the documents tab for updated materials from previous events.

July 2019 

The fifth Working Group meeting was held on Wednesday, July 17th from 6:00-8:00PM at the Manning Apartments, 1st Floor Community Room, 237 Franklin Street. At this meeting, Working Group members discussed surface transportation and street design considerations.

Please click here for the Working Group Meeting #5 flyer. Check the documents tab for the agenda and presentation.

Other events originally scheduled for the summer, including additional Carl Barron Plaza engagement, have been rescheduled for September. 

June 2019

The first engagement activities focused on Carl Barron Plaza was held on Wednesday, June 5th and Saturday, June 8th. These events focused on existing conditions in the plaza and the MBTA bus terminal area and engaged the public to gather input on how the public use and experience the plaza. Future engagement events will involve brainstorming design ideas.

  • Carl Barron Plaza Existing Conditions Open House: Wednesday, June 5th from 6:00-9:00PM at the Manning Apartments, 1st Floor Community Room, 237 Franklin Street
  • Carl Barron Existing Conditions Outdoor Engagement: Saturday, June 8th from 4:00-7:00PM in the Carl Barron Plaza at the intersection of River Street and Massachusetts Avenue.

Please click here for the Carl Barron Plaza Open House & Outdoor Engagement flyer.

The second Public Site Walk focusing on Urban Design & Local Businesses was on Tuesday, June 11th from 6:00-8:00PM, beginning at 1 Central Square in Carl Barron Plaza.

Please click here for the Public Site Walk for Urban Design & Local Businesses flyer

The fifth River Street Reconstruction Working Group meeting was on Wednesday, July 17th from 6:00-8:00PM at the Manning Apartments, 1st Floor Community Room, 237 Franklin Street. The focus of this meeting was surface transportation and street design considerations. 

May 2019

The River Street Reconstruction project team hosted the first Public Site Walk, focusing on Mobility and Safety, on Tuesday May 14, 2019 from 6:00-8:00PM, meeting at 1 Central Square, in front of the Amazon storefront -- an informative tour of transportation mobility conditions along River Street. The project team led the tour of key locations along the corridor and highlighting safety and mobility challenges and opportunities as they related to pedestrians of all abilities, bicyclists, transit riders, and drivers. Please click here for the Public Site Walk #1 flyer and agenda. In addition, please stay tuned for more details on the second Public Site Walk happening in June.

The fourth River Street Reconstruction Working Group meeting was held on Tuesday, May 28th from 6:00-8:00PM at the Manning Apartments, 1st Floor Community Room, 237 Franklin Street. The focus of this meeting was a 'deep dive' into the Design Toolbox. Please click here for the Working Group Meeting #4 flyer and agenda.

April 2019

The third River Street Reconstruction Working Group meeting was held on Tuesday, April 23rd from 6:00-8:00PM at the Manning Apartments, 1st Floor Community Room, 237 Franklin Street. At this meeting, Working Group members discussed public input on the existing conditions, refine project goals, and identify design challenges. The City introduced a toolbox of potential design elements and provided a brief preview of the Carl Barron Plaza charrette process to begin in May. The meeting flyer and DRAFT agenda are now available.

March 2019

The first River Street Reconstruction Public Meeting was held on Tuesday, March 26th from 6:00-8:30PM at the Cambridge Community Center – Gymnasium, 5 Callender Street (off Howard Street near Western Avenue). The meeting presentation and existing conditions boards are both available. Couldn't make the meeting? Use the Public Input Map to leave comments for the project team about River Street and Carl Barron Plaza.  Additional meeting materials can be found by clicking on the 'Documents' tab above.

February 2019

The second River Street Reconstruction Working Group meeting was held on Tuesday, February 26th from 6:00-8:00pm at the Manning Apartments, 1st Floor Community Room, 237 Franklin Street. At this meeting, City and project team staff provided a history of the project area, presented existing conditions in the context of project themes that will inform the design, and provided an overview of the Carl Barron Plaza charrette process anticipated in the spring. Please click here to view the meeting presentation. Additional meeting materials can be found by clicking on the 'Documents' tab above. 

January 2019

The first River Street Reconstruction Working Group meeting was held on Tuesday, January 29th from 6:00-8:00pm at the Manning Apartments, 1st Floor Community Room, 237 Franklin Street. At this meeting, City and design team staff and Working Group members were introduced for the first time, and together they discussed the group’s role, review relevant City policies and prior planning efforts, and the project scope and timeline. Please click here to view the meeting presentation. Additional meeting materials can be found by clicking on the 'Documents' tab above. 

December 2018

The City has appointed a working group to represent a cross-section of resident and business interests in the corridor, as well as representatives from relevant citizen advisory committees. Please click on the 'Community Process' tab for more details.

November 2018

The City has entered into a contract with a design team led by HDR Engineering, Inc. of Boston, MA for the planning and design of the Project. The main project team members and their roles are as follows:

  • HDR Engineering, Inc. will manage the Project and provide surface and subsurface engineering, and Green Infrastructure design
  • Halvorson Design Partnership will be the lead for urban design, landscape architecture, and public art coordination
  • McMahon Associates Inc. will be the lead for transportation engineering and analysis, and community outreach
  • Project for Public Spaces will support the community outreach process, and lead community design charrettes for Carl Barron Plaza and related elements of Central Square

October 2018

City staff are conducting interviews with residents who applied to be on the River Street Working Group. The Working Group is expected to be finalized by late November, and will begin to meet early in 2019.

September/October 2018

City staff reviewed proposals and conducted interviews with prospective design consultants. A recommendation has been made to the City Manager, and the recommended consultant team is expected to be under contract to the City in early November.

The design process for the River Street project began in November 2018 with data collection (topographic survey; transportation and parking counts; etc.). In general, the Community Outreach and Design Processes will occur throughout 2019 and into fall 2020. Construction is anticipated to begin in late 2020 or early 2021.

The primary objectives of the project are to address the utility and surface infrastructure needs of River Street; and to develop and implement a new design for Carl Barron Plaza.

Specific goals include:

  • Provide, to the extent necessary, new sanitary sewer, stormwater and water infrastructure to ensure adequate utility levels of service. Portions of these systems are more than 100 years old and have fallen into a deteriorated condition over time.
  • Provide new surface infrastructure that meets the needs of all the various users and does so in a way that engages the local community, contributes to overall enhancement of the neighborhood, and meets the City’s goals related to infrastructure, transportation, and urban design.     The project aims to create a streetscape design that enables people to travel safely and comfortably by various transportation modes while enhancing the neighborhood context and supporting local businesses.
  • Reconstruct Carl Barron Plaza, the significant open space at the heart of Central Square.  The Plaza design will include consideration of public art, fixed and/or unfixed furniture , circulation, access, plantings, and landscaping. The design must also consider the complexity of transit needs in the MBTA bays adjacent to the Plaza.
  • Undertake a robust public process that engages all the various stakeholders along the corridor including neighbors, neighborhood groups, businesses and business groups, city standing committees, and other advisory committees.  

The City has budgeted approximately $25 million for construction of the River Street project.

Working Group

In December, 2018, the City of Cambridge appointed a working group to represent a cross-section of resident and business interests in the corridor, as well as representatives from relevant citizen advisory committees. Working Group members will participate in meetings and discussions, review written material, and advise the City on design issues associated with the reconstruction of the River Street corridor and Carl Barron Plaza.

Members of the Working Group: Patrick Barrett III; Daniel Beaulieu; Seanna Berry; Sai Boddupalli; Valerie Bonds; Matthew Ciborowski; Gabriel Cira; Abby Duker; Samuel Gebru; Melissa Greene; Kai Long; Neil Rodriguez; Randy Stern; Andrew Tarsy; Christopher Tassone; Annie Tuan; Olivia Turner


Public Meetings & Events

  • 6/11/2019 - Public Site Walk #2 - Urban Design and Local Business
  • 6/5/2019 Carl Barron Plaza Existing Conditions Open House and 6/8/2019 Outdoor Engagement

Working Group Meetings

  • 12/08/2019 - Working Group Meeting #8 - New!

Additional Resources

As part of the River Street Reconstruction Project we’ll be looking at changes to Carl Barron Plaza that consider the many people and uses of the Plaza as well as public art, fixed and/or unfixed furniture, access, plantings, and landscaping. The design must also consider the complexity of the bus bays adjacent to the Plaza and people moving through the Plaza. 

The first engagement activities focused on Carl Barron Plaza were held on Wednesday, June 5th and Saturday, June 8th. Please click here for the flyer. These events focused on the existing conditions in the plaza and the MBTA bus terminal area. Future events will involve brainstorming design ideas.

Contact Information 

Bill Deignan, Transportation Planner

wdeignan@cambridgema.gov

617/349-4632