River Street Reconstruction

The scope of the River Street Reconstruction project includes River Street, the bus terminal area at River and Magazine Streets, and Carl Barron Plaza (the public plaza space in front of the Amazon, Cambridge Savings Bank, and Holmes building entrance). The primary objectives of the project are to create a street design on River Street that meets the needs of everybody, address the utility and surface infrastructure needs of River Street, and develop and implement a new design for Carl Barron Plaza.

Project goals

  • 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 Plazathe significant open space at the heart of Central Square. The Plaza design will include consideration of public art, fixed and movable seating, circulation, accessibility, plantings, and landscaping. The project team is also making sure that public plaza design meets the transportation and mobility needs of bus riders and people passing through 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 project team is doing community outreach and design through 2021. Construction is anticipated to begin in late 2021.

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

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Tell us your thoughts

Click here to send the project team a general comment.


June 2021

June 30 The city closed the comment forms on the virtual open house webpage. Click here to watch a video presentation on the Carl Barron Plaza design concepts. Please send an e-mail to RiverStreet@CambridgeMA.gov with your thoughts and questions about the Carl Barron Plaza design.

June 22 The city held a Question and Answer Public Information Session on Zoom webinar from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM

June 16-30 The City held a virtual open house for the public to learn more about the proposed conceptual designs for Carl Barron Plaza.

Ongoing

Utility companies, like Eversource, are doing some construction on River Street in advance of the City's street reconstruction project.

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

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 and parking counts; etc.). The design process of the River Street corridor will finish in the spring of 2021. The re-design of the Carl Barron Plaza is ongoing and scheduled to be complete at the end of summer 2021. A fall open house is anticipated to view the final design of both the corridor and plaza. Street reconstruction is anticipated to begin as early as late 2021 but could begin in early 2022. Utility companies began some work on River Street in fall 2020.

Ongoing

Utility companies, like Eversource, are doing some construction on River Street in advance of the City's street reconstruction project.

June 2021

June 30 We closed the public comment forms on the feedback webpage. The project video remains available to watch. Click here to view project video.

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

June 16 We launched a public feedback opportunity for Carl Barron Plaza design concepts. Click here to visit the feedback webpage.

May 2021

May 6 Tenth working group meeting held with remote participation. Click here to view the meeting presentation in PDF format.

Winter 2020-2021

Ongoing We continued development of the Carl Barron Plaza conceptual designs and adjusted corridor designs based on public feedback.

November 2020

November 22 We closed the comment forms and mapping tools on the open house webpage. Click here to view the open house webpage in an archived format. Send an e-mail with additional comments or questions to RiverStreet@CambridgeMA.gov.

October 2020

October 29 We 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 We 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. 

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

Working Group Meetings

Construction notices

Public meetings & events

  • 6/16/2021 - 6/30/2021 Virtual Open House
  • 6/22/2021 Question and Answer Public Information Session
    • Flyer
    • Meeting Summary / Questions and Answers
  • 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 mid-2021. Construction is anticipated to begin in late 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.

Contact Information 

Bill Deignan, Transportation Planner

wdeignan@cambridgema.gov

617/349-4632