Malden City Council Endorses More Bus, Bike Lanes for City Center

A sketch plan of proposed new bus lanes and bike lanes on Centre Street in downtown Malden. Courtesy of the City of Malden.
A sketch plan of proposed new bus lanes and bike lanes on Centre Street in downtown Malden. Courtesy of the City of Malden.

The Malden City Council has endorsed a major redesign of Centre Street, a major downtown boulevard, to convert two car lanes into dedicated bus lanes and bike lanes along the southern edge of the city’s downtown district.

The project would also provide continuous painted bike lanes on Centre Street to connect the Northern Strand Trail to the Malden Center Orange Line station. A concept plan has been posted on the city’s website.

A second but related project plans to upgrade nine traffic signals on the adjoining section of Main Street (from downtown Malden to Sweetser Circle in Everett) to prioritize green lights for buses and emergency vehicles.

A map of downtown Malden's future bus lane network,highlighted in red. An existing inbound bus lane on Florence Street was installed late in 2020, and new dedicated bus lanes on both sides of Centre Street could be installed later this year, along with new bike lanes to connect to the Northern Strand Trail.
A map of downtown Malden’s future bus lane network,highlighted in red. An existing inbound bus lane on Florence Street was installed late in 2020, and new dedicated bus lanes on both sides of Centre Street could be installed later this year, along with new bike lanes to connect to the Northern Strand Trail.

The current Centre Street is a four- to five-lane street built in the late 1970s, shortly after the city’s new Orange Line station opened, over the buried headwaters of the Malden River. Its intersections with Commercial Street (near the Orange Line station) and Main Street are both designated “high-crash clusters” in MassDOT’s highway safety improvement program.

Ward 4 City Councilor Ryan O’Malley, who sponsored the City Council resolution to support the project, gave a brief overview of the concept at Tuesday’s Malden City Council meeting, held via video conference.

“There are 10 bus routes served by this section of Centre Street – the 99, the 101, 104, 105, 106, 108, 131, 137, 411, and the 430, with 7,600 weekday riders,” O’Malley told his colleagues.

Buses on those ten routes run every two to four minutes on a typical weekday in the eastbound direction.

The surrounding neighborhood is heavily transit-dependent: roughly one-third of all households in the area do not own a motor vehicle.

O’Malley also noted that the existing four-lane section of Centre Street is relatively short, but it invites drivers to drive recklessly in an area with significant foot traffic and creates “artificial bottleneck” where Centre Street merges back into two-lane streets to the east and west of the downtown area.

The Main Street transit signal prioritization is being financed with a $225,000 “community connections” grant from the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, and the bus and bike lane painting project would be funded with a $491,000 “shared streets and spaces” grant from MassDOT.

In December, Malden leveraged another MassDOT shared streets and spaces grant to open its first dedicated bus lane on the westbound side of Florence Street, a few blocks north of Centre Street.

That lane benefits MBTA’s routes 104, 105, and 99, which run in a loop around downtown Malden and will also use the new bus lanes on Centre Street when traveling outbound from the bus hub at the Malden Center Orange Line station.

 

This story was corrected at 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 15 to clarify that transit-priority traffic signals are planned for installation on Main Street. Because of an editor’s error, a previous version of this story incorrectly stated that signals on Centre Street would also be upgraded.

 

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