Lexington Center Streetscape Project
Myths and Facts
Myth: The development of the design for the Center Streetscape Project was poorly done. We should scrap it and start all over again.
Facts: If one reviews the project to date, it would be difficult to come to this conclusion. Consider:
- The Project has been designed with great care and thought, with direction and guidance by professional landscape architects and traffic engineers, and with considerable community input.
- Hundreds of hours of citizen, committee, and town staff time have gone into it, as have hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money.
- It has been more than five years in the making.
This summary of the making of the Center Streetscape Project gives some sense of why it would be ridiculous to start over (check out this timeline for more details):
- 2003. The Comprehensive Plan for Lexington identified the Woburn St / Mass Ave intersection as requiring changes in layout and traffic control.
- 2006-2009. Each year, the Town repaired various stretches of sidewalks in Lexington Center.
- 2010. The Town developed a master sidewalk plan for Lexington Center. Later in the year, a study revealed that the Mass Ave roadway in Lexington Center was in poor condition.
Recognizing the need to address the infrastructure issues in
Lexington Center in a coherent and comprehensive way, the Town
engaged in a public bidding process and hired Pressley Associates,
a design firm specializing in historic landscapes, to develop
concept plans. Several public charrettes and public meetings were
held during the course of the year, culminating in a forty-seven
Key aspects of the plan that have been incorporated into the Center Streetscape Project are:
- Bump-outs and shorter crosswalks, ADA-compliant ramps, ADA-compliant sidewalks for improved pedestrian safety
- Movement of crosswalks to safer locations (see slide 8 of the concept plan)
- Additional seating opportunities and site improvements on the north-side sidewalk
- Cohesive treatment of sidewalk paving, furniture, and roadway and pedestrian lighting throughout the Center
- New planters and trees
- New bike racks and bike accommodations
- Traffic flow improvements
- A more comprehensible Woburn St gateway
- Improved parking
- 2012-2013. With the basic concept established, it was time to bring in traffic engineers. The Town engaged in a public bidding process and hired BETA Group, which had the capacity to do both the traffic study work and also the landscape architecture work.
- 2013-2015. BETA Group conducted the necessary traffic studies and modeling, and also engaged in numerous public charrettes and public meetings, getting much of the same feedback that Pressley Associates had gotten. The Board of Selectmen received and approved BETA’s plan at the 25% design phase. This phase contained the basic traffic engineering and public safety outline of the Center Streetscape Project.
- 2016. BETA Group unveiled a landscape design proposal for the Center. The Board of Selectmen appointed a Center Streetscape Design Review ad hoc Committee to tweak and refine BETA’s proposal. That process is ongoing.
The Center Streeetscape Project is a good and urgently needed plan that keeps the best of Lexington Center, makes important improvements, and refreshes the landscape. To scrap it all and start over would be outrageously dismissive and wasteful.