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Voters Living Near Somerville’s New Bus Lanes Overwhelmingly Back Their Proponent

2:06 PM EST on November 6, 2019

A sketch of the bus and bike lane improvements that the City of Somerville implemented on Broadway this summer. Courtesy of the City of Somerville.

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, who backed the rollout of an ambitious all-day, bidirectional bus lane on Broadway in Somerville during an election year, won a commanding majority of votes in the three wards immediately adjacent to the bus lane project, according to preliminary election results.

The results suggest that the opponents of the city's "Winter Hill In Motion" project, which installed the new bus lanes and other safe streets infrastructure along Broadway – – failed to make a significant showing at Somerville's polling places Tuesday.

According to unofficial results from the City of Somerville, Mayor Curtatone defeated his challenger, Marianne Walles, by a wide margin: Curtatone won 8,052 votes (58 percent of all ballots cast), compared to 5,348 for Walles (39 percent).

In the voting precincts adjacent to the new Broadway bus lanes, the results were similar. In Ward 4, which includes Winter Hill and the Ten Hills neighborhood, Curtatone won 57 percent of the vote. In Precincts 5-1 and 5-2, which surround Magoun Square at the western terminus of the new busway, Curtatone fared even better, winning 62 percent of all ballots cast in those precincts.

In the weeks leading up to his re-election contest, the Mayor adopted a firm stance in support for the new bus lanes after critics began to circulate an online petition against the project.

“It’s time we placed a priority on bus transit,” wrote the mayor in a Facebook post. “Ultimately quicker, more reliable bus service will mean more total people traveling that corridor, but fewer cars. It won’t happen overnight (and new buses will be added as ridership increases), but that is quite literally the ‘vision’ that needs to be implemented to make Vision Zero a reality.”

In a phone interview Wednesday afternoon, Arthur Moore, the author of an online petition against the new bus lanes, said that the result was “pretty much what I expected... this was a Mickey-Mouse election. Some people are not good about (turning out).”

Moore said that his primary concern about the bus lane project relates to its impacts on small business owners along Broadway.

“Almost any part of Somerville, you used to have grocery stores and hardware stores. You hardly ever needed to get into a car. Now, families need to get into a car for anything you need,” said Moore. “If we want people to drive less, we need to protect these small businesses.”

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