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First Street at Thorndike Street

First/Second Street Corridor Study

Phase 1 of the First/Second Street Study was completed in February 2022 and resulted in two concepts for First Street and Second Street. The City project team recommends continuing the study in a Phase 2 to gather more information and conduct further analysis. 

CambridgeSide mall is being redeveloped by the property owner, New England Development (NED), into a new mixed-use development project, which will include housing, office, research and development, and retail uses. As a part of this process, NED will be making significant changes to the buildings located along the First Street side of the mall and may make additional space available for public use. Additionally, NED is supporting the City of Cambridge by providing funding for this First/Second Street Corridor Study.

Through Phase 1 of the study, the City worked with the community and a stakeholder group to identify how to provide safe and comfortable north/south travel connections for people of all ages and abilities, regardless of their mode of transportation, between Binney Street and Cambridge Street. Our findings and recommendations were published in February 2022. 

Given the width of First Street, there may not be enough space to accommodate all the needs that exist along this corridor, which include accessible sidewalks, bus priority, bicycle facilities, parking, tree planting, and general travel lanes. As a result, in Phase 1 of the study, we looked at which of these needs can appropriately be accommodated on other streets such as Second Street. We also thought about how changes may impact nearby streets.

When this study is complete, we hope to have a 10% Conceptual Design Plan, which identifies the preferred street design, and provides high-level plans, sketches, and drawings.

After the study is complete, the City will establish a schedule to advance the 10% Conceptual Design Plan to a final design plan for implementation. This secondary process will include additional opportunities for community input on the details of the plan.  

Project Goals

  • Improve safety and experience for all users
  • Provide a north/south connection for people of all ages and abilities who are biking between Kendall Square and Lechmere/North Point 
  • Ensure that plans account for a future bus connection between Lechmere and Kendall Square, and points beyond
  • Maintain pedestrian and motor vehicle access for individuals and emergency response
  • Manage curbside uses, including residential parking on Second Street
  • Identify opportunities for additional tree plantings
  • Ensure that plans are in line with the City’s plans and policies including Vision Zero, Complete Streets, Envision Cambridge, Vehicle Trip Reduction Ordinance, and the Cambridge Growth Policy.

February 2022: Phase 1 Findings and Recommendations

Based on input from the surveys of street users, two stakeholder meetings, and the community meeting held on September 30, 2021, two cross-section concepts were developed for the First/Second Street Corridor study.

  • Concept 1 includes bus lanes in both directions on First Street paired with Bicycle Priority Street treatments on Second Street.
  • Concept 2 includes separated bicycle lanes on First Street and a bus lane in one direction (the direction of the bus lane may change partway along First Street).

The two Concept Plans can be seen in portrait or landscape view below:

Concept 1:                          Portrait view                    Landscape view

Concept 2:                          Portrait view                    Landscape view                           

You can find the project team's Findings and Recommendations memo for more information.

Read Memo


Next Steps

Based on stakeholder working group and community feedback, and after thoughtful consideration of the two concepts, the City project team determined that more information and analysis is needed before one concept can be selected over the other. The City project team recommends that the study be continued to a Phase 2 to further address the questions raised by the work done to date. The project team is currently working on a scope for the Phase 2 study.

Please email questions or comments to ashulman@cambridgema.gov.


Previous Updates

Wednesday, February 23, 2022 – Stakeholder Comments and Feedback

We sent the Stakeholder Group the Findings and Recommendations and concept plans for Concept 1 (landscape view) and Concept 2 (landscape view)  for their feedback.

Thursday, September 30, 2021 - Community Meeting

We held a community meeting on September 30, 2021 on two street design concepts. You can view view the meeting presentation and watch the recording. Please email questions or comments by October 22, 2021to ashulman@cambridgema.gov

Monday, June 14, 2021 - Stakeholder Meeting

We met with the Stakeholder Group on Monday, June 14. During the meeting we share information about potential cross-sections for First St and collected stakeholder feedback about how each of potential cross-section does or doesn't meet the study goals. You can review the meeting presentation.

Thursday, April 19, 2021 - Experience Survey

Community members were invited to share their experiences on First St and Second St. Signs were posted on both streets and side streets to let people know about the survey.

We asked people if they traveled on First St and if they traveled on Second St. For each street that they traveled on, we asked:

  • What works well for you when you are on the street?
  • What problems, issues, or opportunities for improvements do you experience when you are on the street?
  • What modes of transportation do you use to travel on the street?
  • Why do you travel on the street?

Monday, April 12, 2021 - Stakeholder Meeting

We met with the Stakeholder Group on Monday, April 12. During the meeting we share information about the study's context and purpose, collected stakeholder feedback on desired streetscape elements for First and Second Street, and discussed issues and opportunities. You can review the meeting presentation.

Background Information

We do not expect you to read or become an expert in all of these items. However, we are providing this information so that you may gain a better understanding of the information that we are using to inform our decisions.

City Plans, Policies, and Ordinances

The Complete Streets Policy emphasizes designing City-owned streets for all modes of transportation.

Vision Zero is the City’s approach to eliminating transportation-related fatalities and severe injuries through prevention strategies.

The Cambridge Bicycle Plan (existing and proposed) provides the framework for developing a network of Complete Streets and supporting programs and policies that will help meet the goal of enabling people of all ages and abilities to bike safely and comfortably throughout the city.

The Cambridge Transit Strategic Plan provides City goals and objectives to improve transit in Cambridge in order to meet economic development goals, livability, social equity, and environmental objectives.

The Urban Forestry Master Plan provides strategies for the evaluation, maintenance, and expansion of the urban forest in order to improve resiliency, combat the urban heat island effect, and regulate runoff.

Envision Cambridge is a citywide plan to create a more sustainable, equitable, and inclusive community.

The Climate Action Plan describes how the City will reduce emissions across the entire city to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

The New Mobility Blueprint is still being created. When complete, it will provide actionable recommendations for policies, programs, and regulations that will help the City implement new mobility options in a way that aligns with existing values and policies.

The Vehicle Trip Reduction Ordinance prioritizes alternatives to single-occupancy vehicle travel.

The Parking and Transportation Demand Management (PTDM) Ordinance builds off the Vehicle Trip Reduction Ordinance and requires commercial or other non-residential parking facilities of a certain size to have a Parking and Transportation Demand Management plan in order to reduce vehicle trips.

The First Street Garage Parking Study examines the parking supply and utilization in the area of the First Street Garage.

The Cambridge Growth Policy emphasizes walking, biking, transit, and low emission vehicles and establishes urban design and open space objectives.

The Kendall Square Mobility Task Force and Transportation Kendall reports envision the future of transportation in the Kendall Square area, taking into account the major growth that has occurred there in recent years, as well as the changes projected moving forward.

Existing Transit

The MBTA Green Line serves Lechmere Station from Boston, with planned extensions to Medford and Somerville. The 69, 80, 87, and 88 buses also serve Lechmere Station.

The MBTA Red Line serves Kendall Square, connecting to Alewife in the west, and Boston, Quincy and Braintree to the southeast. There are nearby connections to the 64, 68, 85 and CT2 buses.

Private Transit Services

The EZRide shuttle bus is open to the public and managed by the Charles River TMA. It connects North Station, East Cambridge, Kendall Square, and Cambridgeport. It has a stop on First Street at Otis Street, and First Street at Charles Street.

The CambridgeSide Shuttle Bus is free shuttle service that operates between CambridgeSide and the Kendall Square MBTA Station. The shuttle runs every twenty minutes from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., seven days each week.

The Alexandria Real Estate Equites Shuttle Bus is a private shuttle bus for employees of Alexandria Real Estate Equity or their tenant companies which operates between MBTA North Station and Alexandria’s buildings in East Cambridge and Cambridgeport.

Current Development Projects in the Area

The CambridgeSide 2.0 Project by New England Development (NED) includes the redevelopment of the CambridgeSide mall site into a mixed-use project. View the Cambridgeside 2.0 Special Permit Application.

The MIT Volpe Redevelopment Project by MIT on the site of the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center by would create a new mixed-use development. View the MIT Volpe Redevelopment Project Special Permit Application.

The North Point/Cambridge Crossing Project development by DivcoWest Real Estate Investments is the redevelopment of the former industrial sites in the North Point area of Cambridge into a mixed-use area with residential and commercial uses. View the North Point/Cambridge Crossing Special Permit Application.

The 40 Thorndike Project by Leggat McCall Properties involves the redevelopment of the former Sullivan Courthouse to include retail, residential, and commercial uses. View the 40 Thorndike Project Special Permit Application.

The First Street Assemblage Project by Urban Spaces LLC assembled multiple sites on First Street into residential, office and retail projects. View the First Street Assemblage Project Special Permit Application.

The Binney Street Redevelopment Project by Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. assembled multiple sites on Binney Street into research and development, residential, and retail projects. View the Binney Street Redevelopment Project Special Permit Application.

Infrastructure Improvements (In progress/planned/proposed)

The Cambridge Five-Year Sidewalk and Street Reconstruction Plan is comprehensive plan for designing streets that safely accommodates all user- pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and public transportation users of all ages and abilities.

The Streetscape Redesign for Binney/Galileo/Broadway connects existing bicycle and sidewalk infrastructure on Vassar and Binney and holistically incorporates a multi-modal streetscape design with streetscape amenities and landscaping. The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority has finalized design documents for the project which includes Galileo Galilei Way, Binney Street (from 3rd to Fulkerson), and Broadway (from Ames to Galileo).

The re-design and re-construction of O'Brien Highway from Land Boulevard to Third Street, is being completed by the Cambridge Crossing developer in cooperation with the City of Cambridge and MassDOT. This project is a requirement of the Planning Board's Special Permit (PB179) for the development project.

The Green Line Extension (GLX) will extend the existing MBTA Green Line service north of Lechmere Station and into the communities of Cambridge, Medford, and Somerville.

The Grand Junction Multi-use Path is a proposed off-street multi-use path, that will run alongside the existing railroad tracks in the Grand Junction corridor from Boston University Bridge to Somerville.

Page was posted on 4/30/2019 9:44 AM
Page was last modified on 1/23/2024 9:04 AM
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