Somerville Craigie Drawbridge Meeting Later this Month

The Somerville Board of Aldermen and the Somerville State Legislative Delegation are hosting a public meeting to provide an overview of the construction plans and traffic impacts for the replacement of the Craigie Drawbridge, which will impact traffic patterns in Somerville for the duration of the project. Mass. Department of Transportation (MassDOT) staff will lead the discussion and answer questions.

This project includes the complete replacement of the bridge superstructure and bridge deck as well as the machinery and electrical components. During construction temporary bridge structures will be utilized to carry traffic. Work is expected to begin in early November 2010 and conclude in April 2011. The Craigie Drawbridge Rehabilitation Project is part of the $3 billion Patrick – Murray Accelerated Bridge Program, which aims to restore and repair structurally deficient bridges across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Contact Tim Snyder in Representative Toomey’s Office for information regarding this meeting at Tim.Snyder@MAHouse.Gov or 617.722.2380.

Craigie Bridge Rehab to Cause Traffic Disruptions

Healy Public Safety Facility, Cambridge – map

On Wednesday, September 29th, I hosted a community information meeting to discuss the upcoming Craigie Drawbridge rehabilitation project and the impact that it will have on the East Cambridge neighborhood. I would like to sincerely thank everyone who attended the meeting and made their suggestions and concerns heard.

Representatives from MassDOT came to the Robert Healy Public Safety Facility on 6th Street in Cambridge to present an overview of the upcoming project and to receive feedback from the community about their plans. They made it very clear that the commute in, around, and through East Cambridge will be ugly this winter. The Craigie Drawbridge, which carries the McGrath O’Brien Highway from Land Boulevard in Cambridge to Leverett Circle in Boston, will be closed to traffic traveling from Cambridge to Boston for a total of 15 weeks this winter. Beginning on November 1st and continuing through April, an extensive restoration and rehabilitation of the Craigie Drawbridge will be undertaken as part of the Massachusetts Accelerated Bridge Program. Because the bridge is a drawbridge serving an active waterway, work on the bridge must be conducted under a Coast Guard permit which requires it to be done during the winter months when boat traffic is at its lightest. Due to this time constraint, the work will be performed on the bridge around the clock for the duration of the project.


View Larger Map

The bridge repairs will be undertaken in three phases that will bring varying degrees of traffic disruption to the area. From November 6th until the end of November, Phase 1 of the project will require that two lanes on the bridge be closed. Only the outbound lanes from Boston to Cambridge will be open. During Phase 2 of the project, which will stretch from the end of November until mid-January, 4 lanes of traffic will be open, with two going in each direction. The third and final Phase will begin in mid-January and continue through April, and will require the two lanes inbound from Cambridge to Boston to be closed in the same manner that they will be during Phase 1.

In order to limit the impact to traffic in the area, MassDOT has put together a plan that includes detours and advanced signage to warn drivers of the lane closures and direct them to alternate routes. Light timings and lane striping will be adjusted in the area to optimize traffic flow to the extent possible. MassDOT has said that they will be monitoring the traffic issues created by the lane closures closely with cameras and on-site observers, and will have a command center set up at the district headquarters to monitor and resolve issues surrounding the project.

With that said, I am disappointed that MassDOT has chosen a traffic plan that will disproportionately impact commuters and residents in Somerville and Cambridge, and that the majority of the increased traffic burden will be suffered on our side of the river. I, along with my fellow City Council members, had expressed to MassDOT our hope that they would implement a traffic plan that would allow one lane of traffic to flow in each direction during the phases of the project in which the bridge will be cut down to two lanes. Although I understand MassDOT’s concerns about keeping Leverett Circle clear of excess traffic on the Boston side of the bridge, I feel that a solution that would have spread the traffic impact more equally to both sides would have been better, and I am unhappy that they will be continuing with the plan that will close the bridge to traffic from Cambridge.

As the start of the project looms closer, I will be continuing to monitor the preparations being made to ensure that the negative impacts to our community are limited in every way possible. My office has set up a third public information meeting about this project so that residents of East Somerville, and anyone else who may wish to attend, may be able to learn about the impact the bridge replacement will have for them, and that they may voice their questions and concerns about the project to MassDOT. The meeting will be held with members of the Somerville state delegation and the Somerville Board of Alderman, and will happen on October 26th from 6pm to 8pm at Somerville City Hall. For more information about this meeting or the Craigie Drawbridge Rehabilitation, click here to download an informational flyer, or contact my office at 617-722-2380.

I will be posting more information about this project as its start date gets closer, so stay tuned.

2009 Municipal Election Voter Information

The 2009 municipal elections will be held this Tuesday, November 3rd (tomorrow!). Voters will have the opportunity to decide who will serve the next term on the Cambridge City Council, the Somerville Board of Aldermen, and the School Committees of both Cambridge and Somerville.

Cambridge will have heavy competition with 20 candidates on the ballot (for 9 City Council seats), along with one incumbent write-in candidate. This represents a large increase from the previous municipal election in 2007, when 15 people ran. Hopefully the increase in candidates will be matched by an increase in voter turnout. There are 9 candidates for 6 School Committee seats.

In Somerville there are fewer challengers this cycle. The Board of Aldermen (11 seats) will have two challengers: one for an At-large seat and one for Alderman of Ward 6. The School Committee has two challengers for the 7 seats: one in Ward 4 and one in Ward 5.

The most important thing to do is to get out there and exercise your right to participate in our city government. Here are a few frequently asked questions, but please let me know if you have any further questions.

Where do I vote?
There are dozens of polling locations in Cambridge and Somerville, and yours should be very close to your home address. To help you find your polling location, the state elections division has created an online resource:
wheredoivotema.com

Enter your address in the form, being careful to only enter what each section asks for. If you run into trouble but you need to find out where to vote, please contact me at (617) 722-2380 or call the elections division directly at (617) 727-2828.

What will my ballot look like?

There will be 20 candidates for the Cambridge City Council (plus the write-in incumbent) and 9 for the Cambridge School Committee on the Cambridge ballot. Using proportional representation, all candidates are ranked by preference, with #1 being your top preference. You are allowed as many choices as there are candidates for Council and School Committee. DO NOT put the same number down for more than one candidate, it will not count for either.

For more information on the Cambridge voting system and a sample ballot, please follow the links below:
Elections Dept. page
Sample ballot (pdf)

In Somerville there will be 5 candidates for Alderman-at-large along with candidates for each of the 7 wards. They do not use proportional representation system of voting. You are allowed one vote in each ward and 4 votes for the 4 Aldermen-at-large seats.

Somerville:
Elections Dept. page
Sample ballots by ward (pdfs)

Where can I get more information on the candidates?

For last minute information on the Cambridge candidates, please visit Robert Winters’ Civic Journal candidate page.

Videos from Somerville Community Access Television (SCAT) are available for each of the contested races this year here.