River Street Reconstruction

The River Street Reconstruction project will upgrade sanitary sewer, stormwater and water subsurface infrastructure. This project will also create a new design for River Street, the bus terminal area at River and Magazine Streets, and Carl Barron Plaza. Carl Barron Plaza is the public plaza space in front of the Amazon, Cambridge Savings Bank, and Holmes building entrance. The project's goal is to create a street design that meets the needs of everybody. Other goals are to create a street design that engages the local community, contributes to making the neighborhood better, and meets the City’s goals for infrastructure, transportation, and urban design.

For Carl Barron Plaza, the project will create a new public plaza integrating public art, street furniture, accessibility improvements, and landscaping. The project team is also making sure that public plaza design also meets the transportation and mobility needs of bus riders and people passing through the plaza.

The project team is doing community outreach and design through 2020. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2021.

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November 2020

As of November 23, the project team has closed the comment forms and input tools on the virtual open house website. The project team is reviewing public input and comments from the virtual open house website to refine the street and plaza designs and will reach out again when designs are updated.

Visit the archived version of the virtual open house website

View the Questions and Answers from the 10-29-2020 Q&A Public Information Session

If you have questions or comments we encourage you to fill out the general comment form or sand an e-mail to RiverStreet@CambridgeMA.gov with your questions to the project team.

View previous updates in the "previous updates" tab.

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 2020. Construction is anticipated to begin as early as spring 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; Valerie Bonds; Matthew Ciborowski; Gabriel Cira; Abby Duker; Samuel Gebru; Melissa Greene; Kai Long; Randy Stern; Saul Tannenbaum; Andrew Tarsy; Christopher Tassone; Annie Tuan; Olivia Turner


Construction notices

Public meetings & events

  • 10/29/2020 - Question and Answer Public Information Session
  • 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

Presentation to Community-based Groups

  • 1/28/2020 - Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association | Annual Meeting

Working Group Meetings

Additional Resources

As part of the River Street Reconstruction Project, the City is creating a new design for Carl Barron Plaza. Carl Barron Plaza is the public plaza space in front of Cambridge Savings Bank, Amazon, and the Holmes Building entrance. This new plaza design will consider the diversity of people and uses of the Plaza. The project will create a new public plaza design integrating public art, street furniture, access, and landscaping. The public plaza design must also meet the complex transportation needs for bus riders and people passing through the plaza.

The project team is doing ongoing community outreach and design through 2020. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2021.

The first engagement activities for Carl Barron Plaza were in June 2019. These events focused on the existing conditions in the plaza and the MBTA bus terminal area.

A virtual open house began in October 2020 to get community input on proposed elements of Carl Barron Plaza.

November 2020

November 22 The City closed the comment forms and mapping tools on the open house webpage. People should sent an e-mail to RiverStreet@CambridgeMA.gov with additional questions and comments.

October 2020

October 29 hosted question and answer information session with remote participation through Zoom with closed captioning. Click here to see a summary of questions and answers.

October 27 launched virtual open house website to get feedback. Click here to see virtual open house.

August 2020

Late Project team posted corridor 25% design documents. Click here to see 25% design plans.

August 18 Tenth working group meeting held with remote participation. Click here to see presentation.

July 2020

July 22 Ninth Working Group meeting held with remote participation. Click here to see presentation.

June 2020

June 22 Eversource Gas began construction on the River Street corridor. Click here to view notice.

Ongoing The project team is still working on the conceptual design for River Street and Carl Barron Plaza.

March 2020

March 13 The City of Cambridge cancelled or postponed all non-regulatory public meetings through May 31, 2020. This included all public engagement activities for the River Street project.

Ongoing The project team is still working on the conceptual design for River Street and Carl Barron Plaza.

February 2020

Mid-February Project team sent a winter update e-mail. Click here to see the project update e-mail.

December 2019

December 17 Eighth Working Group meeting at Manning Apartments

Ongoing The project team is still working on the conceptual design for River Street.

November 2019

November 19 Second public meeting at the Putnam Upper School 

October 2019

October 22 Seventh Working Group meeting at Manning Apartments

September 2019

September 24 Sixth Working Group meeting at the Manning Apartments

August 2019

Carl Barron Plaza engagement postponed.

July 2019 

July 17 Fifth Working Group meeting at the Manning Apartments

Other public engagement events rescheduled for September

June 2019

June 11 Public site walk - Urban design and local businesses

June 8 Outdoor public event - Existing conditions at Carl Barron Plaza 

June 5 Open house event - Existing conditions at Carl Barron Plaza

May 2019

May 28 Fourth Working Group meeting at the Manning Apartments

May 14 Public site walk - Mobility and safety

April 2019

April 23 Third Working Group meeting at Manning Apartments. Toolbox of design elements

March 2019

March 26 First community meeting at Cambridge Community Center

Public input map launched.

February 2019

February 26 Second working group meeting at Manning Apartments

January 2019

January 29 First working group meeting at Manning Apartments

December 2018

City appointed a working group to represent a cross-section of resident and business interests in the corridor, as well as representatives from relevant advisory committees.

November 2018

The City 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 project team includes the following companies:

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

October 2018

City staff conducted interviews with applicants to the River Street Working Group.

September/October 2018

City staff reviewed proposals and conducted interviews with prospective design consultant teams. 

 

Contact Information 

Bill Deignan, Transportation Planner

wdeignan@cambridgema.gov

617/349-4632