Lexington Center Streetscape Project
What is the Center Streetscape Project?
The Center Streetscape Project is a plan of the Town of Lexington to repair, redesign, rebuild, and improve the streets and sidewalks of Lexington Center. The Project encompasses Mass Ave from the edge of the Battle Green (at Meriam St) to the Farmers' Market (Woburn St / Mass Ave intersection) - about 2,000 feet of streetscape. A parallel effort known as the Battle Green Project is also under development and involves road and sidewalk construction around the historic Battle Green. Those plans may later be incorporated into the Center Streetscape Project.
Streetscape Project Map. Click to enlarge.
Why do we need it?
- To make our downtown more people-friendly. Mass Ave carries an average of 21,600 vehicles through our Center each day, a serious impediment to pedestrian traffic. The Center Streetscape Project is designed to facilitate and even invigorate pedestrian access to our Center businesses and civic institutions.
Existing traffic volumes in the Streetscape Project limits. Click to enlarge.
- To make needed, critical infrastructure repairs. Lexington Center’s streets and sidewalks are long overdue for repair - and the need is far greater than just filling potholes and repaving. Urgent drainage issues and deteriorating conditions require extensive reconstruction which must be done within the next few years.
- Because it is fiscally responsible. This urgent need for infrastructure reconstruction opens the opportunity for the Town to address long-term concerns regarding the safety, accessibility, and vitality of Lexington Center. The Center Streetscape Project is a smart way to leverage this opportunity - we get repairs, and we get important improvements, too - improvements that will bring current best practices to Lexington Center’s streets and sidewalks. Delays in making the necessary repairs will exponentially increase future construction costs of the project because further deterioration will require even more extensive reconstruction.
- The Massachusetts Department of Transportation ranks Lexington Center among the most dangerous stretches of road for bicycle and pedestrian safety in the state. Lexington Center experiences about 50 crashes each year. These crashes damage property, injure pedestrians and cyclists, and sometimes result in fatalities. No plan will ever bring the accident rate to zero. But the Center Streetscape Project, together with the Battle Green Project, will address many of the factors that make our Center unsafe.
- It is good for our small shops. A more robust and active downtown is high on the wish list of many Lexington residents. Business owners and residents alike want the Center to be attractive to visitors and a welcoming place to dine and shop. The Center Streetscape Project will modernize and beautify our downtown, make street-crossing safer and easier, make it possible for pedestrians to cross at the eastern gateway to the Center where it is currently too dangerous to do so, improve access to parking, and make strolling and browsing the stores a better experience, all while respecting the Center’s special historic character.
- The tired infrastructure needs renewal. Lexington residents want the Center to be a safe and welcoming place for children, elders, bike riders, those with disabilities - everyone - but with outmoded traffic configurations and great disrepair, the Center falls far short. The repairs, rebuilding, and new intersection designs featured in the Center Streetscape Project will bring the Center up to the standard that our residents desire.
How far along is the Project?
The Town has brought the project to the 25% design phase. This means that the Town’s engineers, working with consultants, have conducted extensive traffic studies, identified problematic areas for cars, bikes, and pedestrians, and have presented solutions that have been reviewed by the Board of Selectmen.
Next steps will bring the project to 75% and 100% design:
- Traffic mitigation measures are being developed for neighborhoods surrounding the Woburn St intersection.
- Trials are underway (August to November 2016) to test changes in traffic design being proposed at Edison Way, in front of Rancatore’s, and at the Harrington Rd / Bedford St intersection.
- The Center Streetscape ad hoc Design Committee is developing design recommendations (such as materials for sidewalks, plantings, signage, lighting, etc.) for the Board of Selectmen’s review.
What are the goals of the Center Streetscape Project?
The Center Streetscape Project is focused on:
- Rebuilding the failing infrastructure of the street and sidewalks of Lexington Center.
- Making sidewalks and crosswalks more accessible and safer for all users, including people with disabilities, the elderly, and families pushing strollers.
- Improving the vitality of Lexington Center and its businesses by creating a more welcoming, safer, and inclusive downtown.
- Improving bicycle and pedestrian safety.
- Improving safety for drivers while also reducing congestion.
- Slowing the overall speed of vehicles passing through the Center.
- Accommodating bicycle traffic.
How much will it cost?
The cost of the project is not yet known, as the plans are not yet complete. Further design is needed to reach bidding for construction. However:
- As of February 2016, Town engineers estimate that the total cost for the Center Streetscape Project, extending from Woburn St to Meriam St, will be $8.5 million. This amount includes police details, construction oversight, and a 20% contingency.
- The estimated cost of Phase One of the Project (Woburn St to Town Office Building) is $2.7 million. This amount includes the cost of reconstructing the deteriorated roadway, adding safety improvements, and replacing the sidewalks. The estimated cost of rebuilding the roadway alone is $1.7 million.
- Traffic lights at the Woburn St intersection will cost in the vicinity of $200,000, just under 10% of the cost of Phase One and under 2.4% of the entire Project.