River Street Reconstruction

A rendering that shows the cross-section of the new design for River Street. From left to right, there is a sidewalk, a 'flexible zone' for parking/loading or curb extentions, one lane for general purpose traffic, a dedicated bus lane, a sidewalk-level separated bike lane, and a sidewalk.

We have finished the design of the River Street Reconstruction project. The Department of Public Works will supervise construction on River Street. Visit their webpage to get all future project updates.

Click here to visit DPW's River Street Reconstruction webpage.

To learn about the background, design goals, community engagement process for this project, click the "Description" tab. You can also see the final conceptual designs for this project in the "Description" tab. To see the community engagement materials, click the “Working Group” and “Documents” tabs.


The Department of Public Works now oversees the construction on River Street. The redesign project is complete. Visit the Public Works webpage for updates on the current construction.

View previous updates in the "Schedule" tab.

The design process for the River Street project began in November 2018 with data collection - topographic survey, street user counts, parking counts, and so on. Utility companies began work on River Street in 2020. The redesign of the River Street corridor finished in 2021 and Carl Barron Plaza in 2022. The street and municipal utility construction began in 2022. We listed events and activities for this project below.


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

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

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


January 29 First working group meeting

February 26 Second working group meeting

March We published online a public input map to recieive people's ideas on desired improvements

March 26 First community meeting

April 23 Third Working Group meeting

May 14 Public walk of River Street focused on mobility and safety 

May 28 Fourth Working Group meeting

June 5 Open house event at Carl Barron Plaza focused on existing conditions

June 8 Outdoor public event at Carl Barron Plaza focused on existing conditions

June 11 Public walk of River Street focused on urban design and local businesses

July 17 Fifth Working Group meeting

September 24 Sixth Working Group meeting

October 22 Seventh Working Group meeting 

November 19 Second community meeting

December 17 Eighth Working Group meeting


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

March to June The City of Cambridge cancelled or postponed all non-regulatory public meetings. This include all community engagement activities for the River Street project.

June 22 Eversource Gas began construction on the River Street corridor.

July 22 Ninth Working Group meeting held with remote participation.

August 18 Tenth working group meeting held with remote participation.

Late August Project team posted online 25% designs for the corridor.

October 27 We launched virtual open house website to get community feedback on the 25% design for River Street.

October 29 We hosted question and answer information session with remote participation.

November 22 We closed the comment forms and mapping tools on the open house webpage.

Winter 2020-2021

We continued developing plans for the Carl Barron Plaza redesign and adjusted corridor designs based on public feedback.


May 6 Tenth working group meeting held with remote participation.

June 16 We launched a public comment webpage for feedback on the Carl Barron Plaza design concepts.

June 22 We held a Q&A public information session.

June 30 We closed the public comment forms on the feedback webpage.

July 30 The project team reported on the feedback that we received during the comment period for the Carl Barron Plaza design concepts. Click here to view the summary of public comments.

November 17 We held the twelfth meeting of the River Street Reconstruction working group. This was the final meeting of the working group.


March The project team continued to finalize engineering and other design plans in order to request bids in spring 2022.

July The City selected P. Gioiso & Sons, Inc. as the contractor for the River Street Reconstruction project. They began to organize and schedule workers, equipment, and materials to begin construction later in 2022.

November 17 The City held a Tree Hearing to consider the removal of 34 public trees as part of the River Street Project.


The River Street Reconstruction project will rebuild River Street from Memorial Drive to Massachusetts Avenue. In 2022, we finished designs for this project and selected P. Gioiso & Sons to be the general contractor for rebuilding the street, plazas, and utilities. This project created a new design for:

  • River Street, from Memorial Drive to Massachusetts Avenue
  • Tubman square at River and Pleasant Streets
  • Bus terminal area at River and Magazine Streets
  • Carl Barron Plaza, the pedestrian space in front of the Amazon, Cambridge Savings Bank, and Holmes building entrance


The City's goals for the redesign of River Street were to:

  • To the extent necessary, build new sanitary sewers, stormwater, and water infrastructure to ensure adequate utility levels of service. Parts of the underground utilities are more than 100 years old and need replacement.
  • Build a new street that with a design for all people moving along the street safely, provides spaces for activity near small businesses, and improves crossings 
  • Redesign Carl Barron Plaza, the significant open space at the heart of Central Square.


We had a robust community engagement process to develop the new design of River Street. This included:

  • A project working group that had residents, business representatives, and neighborhood group representatives with 12 working group meetings
  • Presentations to community-based groups, city advisory committees, and city council committees
  • Two in-person community meetings and two online question-and-answer public information sessions
  • Two project walks
  • Two open house/outdoor events
  • Visits with individual businesses and neighbors
  • Flyering with information about community meetings

In order to give members of the Cambridge community information and opportunities for feedback on this project, we also created:

  • Project webpage
  • E-mail newsletter
  • Virtual open houses
  • Online public input maps
  • Online comment forms

Click the “Working Group” and “Documents” tabs to see project documents and materials.

Conceptual designs

The City presented final conceptual designs to our project working group in 2021. Click the links below to see the presentations and designs in PDF format:


In December 2018, the City of Cambridge appointed residents, business representatives, and representatives from relevant city advisory committees to a project working group. Working group members participated in meetings and discussions, reviewed written material, and provided feedback to the City on questions about the design for River Street, Tubman Square, and Carl Barron Plaza. The working group had its final meeting in December 2021.

The project team thanks all of the members of the working group for all their efforts, feedback, and attendance.

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

Working Group Meetings

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

Contact Information 

Bill Deignan, Transportation Planner