The City of Newton is soliciting feedback for the design of new protected bike lanes and other traffic-calming safety improvements along a 0.75-mile stretch of Washington Street between West Newton and Newtonville.
Washington Street is currently a four-lane roadway that runs alongside the Worcester Line regional rail tracks and the Massachusetts Turnpike. Long stretches of Washington Street lack sidewalks along its southern curb, where there is a well-worn track in the dirt between the street and the railroad embankment.
During the pandemic, the city briefly implemented a single paint-only bike lane that replaced on-street parking on the southern (westbound) side of the street.
For the current project, the city aims to create "a more safe, attractive, friendly and welcoming environment for all who use this stretch of roadway, including improved pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure for increased safety," according to a project webpage.
The city's project team has drafted four alternatives, all of which would create physically-protected bike lanes and reduce the number of car lanes along the corridor, from 4 to 3 (one lane in each direction plus a center left-turning lane).
One concept would place one-way bike lanes on both sides of the roadway, between on-street parking lanes and the sidewalks, while concepts 2-4 would create a two-way protected bike path on one side of the street.
The city plans to pick one of these concepts to begin more advanced design work in early 2024, and plans to begin construction in 2025. The project is being billed as a "pilot," and the city intends to use lower-cost materials like planters, paint, and pre-cast concrete curbs to create the new bike lanes and add traffic-calming measures at new crosswalks.