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Somerville, MassDOT To Host Safety Hearing in Response to Fatal Hit-And-Run Crashes on Mystic Ave

The Mystic Avenue crosswalk at the Kensington pedestrian underpass in East Somerville.

After hit-and-run motorists killed two pedestrians in separate crashes in crosswalks near Assembly Square in Somerville, city and MassDOT officials are hosting a meeting this evening to announce short-term safety improvements to the state-controlled roadway.

In July, a motorist killed Cheryl Pauline Richards, 52, of Somerville, as she was walking across Mystic Avenue in the crosswalk at the Kensington Street underpass near Assembly Square.

A month later, another hit-and-run driver killed Kevin Dumont, 68, in a Mystic Avenue crosswalk at Shore Road, about half a mile north of the July crash site.

Tonight, city and state officials will host a public meeting at the East Somerville Community School to discuss "rapid response" signage and pavement marking upgrades that can be implemented this construction season.

"MassDOT has allocated a bunch of staff resources to do early-action investments, mostly focused on getting new pavement markings and signage in this construction season in the next couple of weeks," said Brad Rawson, Director of Transportation and Infrastructure for the City of Somerville, in a phone conversation Tuesday afternoon. "We’ll be replacing signs, improving channelization with pavement markings, and reinforcing crosswalk visibility."

The complex and hazardous junctions of the Fellsway, Mystic Avenue and McGrath Highway – gateways to the fast-growing Assembly Square development – have been the subject of two state safety audits in recent years: in 2015 and in 2017.

Rawson says that the city and state are currently collaborating on a more robust, $5 million project to implement recommendations from those audits, but that effort isn't likely to go under construction until 2022.

"We want stakeholders to understand, people aren’t just shouting into the wind. We have this great intermediate-term project for 2022, but we’re just in the early phases, this thing’s not going to be ready for bidding for another year... (what we're discussing tonight) is a robust series of early action measures," said Rawson.

Meeting information:

Public Meeting Regarding Mystic Avenue Road Safety 

Tuesday, October 1, at 7 p.m.
Auditorium of the East Somerville Community School at 50 Cross Street
(about 1 mile west of the Sullivan Orange Line stop)

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