Watertown Complete Streets

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Complete Streets Fall 2021 Projects

The Town will continue implementing complete streets projects at the following locations:

  • Accessibility and safety improvements at Knowles Delta. The work will include the replacement of damaged sidewalk panels, selective widening of sidewalks to meet accessibility requirements, as well as signage and striping to increase pedestrian visibility and clarify lane assignments. As part of the work, a rectangular rapid flashing beacon (RRFB) will be installed at a relocated crosswalk on Belmont Street near Knowles Road.
  • Pedestrian safety improvements at Casey Park.  The work will include curb extensions and installation of an RRFB on Watertown Street at the entrance to Casey Park to improve pedestrian visibility and safety.

Complete Streets Spring 2021 Projects

In January 2021, the Town received funding through the MassDOT Shared Winter Streets and Spaces Grant Program to perform pedestrian safety improvements at the following locations:

  • Watertown Street at Belknap Terrace/Morse Street
  • Watertown Street at 5th Avenue
  • California Street at 5th Avenue

The project will also add a new BlueBike station at an access point to the Charles River Greenway (since Bluebikes’ Watertown launch in August 2020 - there have been over 2,000 Bluebike rides originating in Watertown). The project will install curb extensions (“bump-outs”) and Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) across Watertown Street and California Street as well as install ADA-compliant ramps at the three locations.  

View the concept plans

Complete Streets 2020 Project

The Town was awarded $289,000 from MassDOT to implement four of the Complete Streets projects identified during the 2017/8 planning process.  These projects were completed during 2020.

  • Raised crosswalk on Whites Ave. at Linear Park and widening of Community Path through Saltonstall Park, from 5-feet to 12-feet, to accommodate a shared use path .
  • Crosswalk improvements on Watertown Street at Theurer Park .

What is a Complete Street?

"Complete Streets are streets for everyone." SmartGrowthAmerica.org

A Complete Street is one that provides safe and accessible options for all travel modes – walking, biking, transit, and motorized vehicles – for people of all ages and abilities. Designing streets with these principles contributes toward the safety, health, economic viability and quality of life in a community by improving the pedestrian and vehicular environments and providing safer, more accessible and comfortable means of travel between home, school, work, recreation and retail destinations.

What are the benefits of Complete Streets?

  • Safety: Research shows that sidewalks reduce pedestrian crashes by 88 percent (FHWA); shoulders, 71 percent (FDOT); medians, 40 percent; road diets, 18 to 49 percent (ITE); and countdown signals, 25 percent (FHWA). Roadway design and engineering approaches commonly found in Complete Streets also provide long-lasting reductions in travel speeds. Although slower speeds benefit all users, they have a dramatic impact on pedestrian safety.  80 percent of pedestrians struck by a car going 40 mph will die. At 30 mph, the likelihood of death drops to 40 percent. At 20 mph, the fatality rate drops to just 5 percent.

Health and Equity:  People in communities with sidewalks are 47% more likely to get regular physical activity.  There is also a strong relationship between obesity and neighborhood walkability.  Providing multiple transportation modes help people meet recommendations for physical activity.  For others, walking, bicycling, or public transit are the only transportation options.  Providing multiple transportation options provides individuals more control over their transportation expenses.

People with Disabilities and Aging Populations:  Over 18% of Americans have some form of disability (2010 Census).  In Massachusetts, the population of age 65 and older is increasing and is expected to exceed 20% in 2030.  Watertown is also home to the Perkins School for the Blind.  Providing accessible crosswalks, walkways, and other facilities increases safety, and reduces isolation and dependence of the impaired and vulnerable populations.  For example, it takes 50% more energy to push a wheelchair at a 3% slope than at 2%.

  • Indirect Outcomes for Walkable Places:  Walkable places can reduce per-capita vehicle travel by 10 to 30%.  Studies have calculated that five to ten percent of urban automobile trips can reasonably be shifted to non-motorized transportation, which can reduce congestion and cut CO2 emissions. Local businesses see many benefits when people can easily travel by foot or bicycle.

Watertown Complete Streets Policy

The Town Council adopted a Complete Streets Policy in May, 2017.  The Policy provides a set of guidelines for implementing Complete Streets principles as part of future street projects.

Complete Streets Prioritization Plan

In 2017, the Town engaged Alta Planning to assist with development of a Complete Streets Prioritization Plan, which will identify opportunities to implement additional Complete Streets practices in Town.  

View the final report issued by Alta Planning in May, 2018.Complete Streets Map Opens in new window

Meeting #1

A public informational meeting was held on December 14, 2017.  The goal of the meeting is to provide a primer on Complete Streets and obtain input from stakeholders about potential Complete Streets projects.

Meeting Presentation (link)

This meeting was recorded by Watertown Cable Access Corporation and is available at http://wcatv.org/government-channel/.  It is listed as “Complete Streets Meeting, December 14, 2017.”

Meeting #2

Building on the discussions at the December 14th meeting, and public comments made through the survey, the Town has developed a list of Complete Streets projects and a draft Prioritization Plan for submittal to MassDOT.

Meeting Presentation (link)

Public Works Sub-committee Meeting

On March 20, 2018, the Public Works Sub-committee of the Town Council met to review and make recommendations on the complete streets prioritization plan.

Click to view the meeting report and meeting materials