Town of Arlington Considers Quick-Build Improvements to Deadly Mass. Ave. Intersection

Appleton-Mass. Ave. safety improvements alternative 1
A March 2020 conceptual plan for quick-build traffic calming improvements at Mass. Ave. and Appleton Street in Arlington. Courtesy of the Town of Arlington.

The Town of Arlington is considering a quick-build project to calm traffic at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Appleton Street in Arlington, where a motorist struck and killed Charles Proctor in a head-on crash last May.

After last summer’s fatal crash, the town’s Select Board convened a new design review committee “to study and make recommendations for both short term and long term improvements to the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Appleton Street.”

That committee is scheduled to meet next Tuesday, March 23 to consider two short-term improvement projects that could be implemented relatively quickly.

Both alternatives would make Appleton Place a one-way street, remove the intersection’s aging traffic signals to replace them with flashing yellow beacons at crosswalks, and separate Appleton Place and the adjacent Appleton Street with a painted curb extension delineated with flexposts.

Both alternatives would also create a painted, flexpost-delineated median island on Mass. Ave. in the vicinity of the intersection, although the median in Alternative 1 would be smaller to make room for a dedicated left-turn lane:

Appleton-Mass. Ave. safety improvements alternative 2
An alternative concept for quick-build traffic calming improvements at Mass. Ave. and Appleton Street in Arlington. Courtesy of the Town of Arlington.

Higher-resolution plans for alternative one and alternative two have been posted to the town’s website.

In a phone conversation with Streetsblog on Monday, Daniel Amstutz, Arlington’s Senior Transportation Planner, said that the short-term improvements could be implemented “this spring or summer, depending on what kind of costs we might be looking at… It is a priority for the town.”

The intersection has long been recognized as a threat to Arlington residents’ physical safety. In 2011 and 2012, the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, citing “the relatively high number of crashes at this intersection and students’ safe access to Ottoson Middle School,” conducted a detailed study of the same intersection and recommended a reconfiguration that would have simplified traffic patterns and shortened the intersection’s crosswalks.

But those recommendations were never implemented.

Amstutz added that the town also wants to move forward with some short-term crosswalk improvements to Chestnut Street, where an SUV driver struck and killed an 81-year-old woman in 2019. A public hearing on that project is expected to be held later this month.

Meeting information:

Mass. Ave./Appleton Street Design Review Committee
Tuesday, March 23, 2021, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Pre-register for this Zoom meeting at



A crowd of people in bikes pedals through a wide brick plaza. In the center, wearing a black helmet and blue hoodie, is Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.

PHOTOS: Boston’s 2023 Bike To Work Day

Between 7:30 and 8:45 a.m., convoys of riders coming in from Mattapan, Dorchester, Brookline, Cambridge, Malden, Chelsea, and other cities across the region arrived in City Hall Plaza in waves, while City of Boston Transportation Department staff welcomed them with cowbells and cheers.
Bar chart illustrating monthly bus driver active headcounts and vacancies since January. The number of vacancies increased slightly in the months Jan. to March but decreased slightly in May.

MBTA News Briefs: Finally Some Better News on Bus Driver Hiring

The MBTA’s three board committees met on Thursday morning with three newly-appointed members to discuss its new 5-year capital plan, hiring updates, and meet the MassDOT’s newly-hired Chief Safety Officer. Incentives for new bus drivers get traction For the past several months, the board’s Workforce Committee has been getting regular updates on hiring efforts, with […]
The gold-plated dome of the Massachusetts State House against a blue sky, with the Massachusetts flag flying to the right of the dome in the foreground.

State House Transportation Committee Discusses Bills Regarding East-West Rail, T Oversight

The legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation hosted a hybrid in-person and virtual public hearing on Monday afternoon to discuss several bills related to transit expansion projects, East-West rail, and MBTA oversight. You can find hearing details – including information about  how to attend in person or submit testimony virtually – at the Massachusetts Legislature’s website. […]