Route 20 Rotary Waltham (Green St, Border Rd, Main St)

Equilibria

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2007
Messages
4,704
Reaction score
1,249
This is a big project that reworks the Route 20 Rotary in Waltham (adding signals and a "Green Street Connector"). It also moves a 128 onramp and reworks bridges and intersection all along Bear Hill.
LMK if we already had a thread.

I don't think it does, but I've never been 100% sure how certain this is to happen and when. It touches a bunch of stuff - the 1265 Main developers' needs, the Route 128 Multimodal Station...

Great if it happens, though.
 
Last edited:

Money

Active Member
Joined
May 26, 2015
Messages
196
Reaction score
28
The 95 NB off ramp reconstruction at Bear Hill is well underway. I also noticed that Mayer Tree Service was conducting some significant vegetation removal around the Route 20 rotary. Not sure if it's related to the rotary project, as vegetation management was needed regardless.
 

fatnoah

New member
Joined
Aug 28, 2012
Messages
80
Reaction score
27
Speaking of pedestrian and bicycle amenities. I used to commute from Watertown to Bear Hill Road via the 71 and 70 buses wayyy back in the early 2000's. The 70 bus drops off on the Waltham side of the bridge over 128. When I started that commute, there wasn't much of a sidewalk on Bear Hill Road, so I'd walk on the shoulder. At some point, they decided to add a sidewalk, which resulted in me having to walk IN the road for a few months while they built it. Once it was constructed, they failed to plow the sidewalk in the winter, resulting in me having to continue to walk in the road.

Hopefully building this infra also comes with a will to maintain it as well.
 

Arlington

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 10, 2011
Messages
4,653
Reaction score
795
^ Yes it would be very forward-thinking of Waltham to ask "are all these additional lane-miles actually integrating us better into the Boston economy?"

They're clearly doubling down on the "128 corridor" thinking of circumferential commutes. The problem with the 70-series of buses is not the "out from the core" part, it is the "where are the jobs in Waltham" part.

You'll see in the presentation that they're opening Border Rd fulltime, which makes Smith-Wyman-3rd-Border essentially function as two additional lanes on 128 between Rt 2 and Rt 20.
In the age of Waze, think that mostly invites it and 128 and induce demand together.

In our Fantasy Transit maps, Border was often seen as the "Bus Priority Loop" that could take an L-shaped Watertown bus up to a Smith St terminus, and an L-shaped Alewife route down to a Polaroid terminus. Fully opening it loses that.
 

iamdjmichael

Active Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2014
Messages
129
Reaction score
20
Is there a reason this interchange couldn’t be simplified and the rotary removed?
 

Highwayguy

New member
Joined
Apr 1, 2020
Messages
20
Reaction score
24
Is there a reason this interchange couldn’t be simplified and the rotary removed?
This project is part of mitigation for a new office park (err lifestyle center) development, so the developer is incentivized to spend the minimum amount necessary to get their access permit approved.
Demoing the existing US 20 bridges and constructing an overpass for the new alignment over 128 would 1) cost $$$$$ and 2) be a giant temp traffic control PITA for the 128 mainline, similar in scope to that of Parcel 12. The developer would be on the hook for pike air rights $$$, but instead of a new (if squat) tower in the heart of downtown, they’d end up with just another office park in the ‘burbs. No reason for them to do it if they don’t have to, and the math probably wouldn’t work for the overall project if they were forced.
 
Last edited:

DBM

Active Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2012
Messages
826
Reaction score
128
I drove this rotary for five years in the early 2010s... it was every bit as alarming as advertised. There was an insultingly cosmetic/superficial lane re-jiggering a few years back which did very little to fix the underlying hazard, in my opinion. So if this represents a sincere effort to engineer the problem out of existence, that's a positive good. At the same time, F-Line is right, of course.
 

iamdjmichael

Active Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2014
Messages
129
Reaction score
20
This project is part of mitigation for a new office park (err lifestyle center) development, so the developer is incentivized to spend the minimum amount necessary to get their access permit approved.
Demoing the existing US 20 bridges and constructing an overpass for the new alignment over 128 would 1) cost $$$$$ and 2) be a giant temp traffic control PITA for the 128 mainline, similar in scope to that of Parcel 12. The developer would be on the hook for pike air rights $$$, but instead of a new (if squat) tower in the heart of downtown, they’d end up with just another office park in the ‘burbs. No reason for them to do it if they don’t have to, and the math probably wouldn’t work for the overall project if they were forced.
definitely makes sense in that light
 

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
540
Reaction score
45
^ Yes it would be very forward-thinking of Waltham to ask "are all these additional lane-miles actually integrating us better into the Boston economy?"
I think this is them saying that they can't really because of how far out it is. Have to assume most employees are going to continue to drive. As a last mile bus option, Waltham Center is probably still better than a theoretical new station.

A brand new 128 office park sounds like a really really bad idea, especially post-Rona.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,766
Reaction score
1,677
As a last mile bus option, Waltham Center is probably still better than a theoretical new station.
Not realistic. The 70 is absolutely running on fumes by the time it hits its terminus in the middle of nowhere on Stow St. Service stiffening out of Waltham Ctr. is nigh impossible when Waltham's entire bus supply has to be triaged a 20-mile distance from feeder Charlestown Garage. The proposed reanimation of Watertown Carhouse as a West Region reliever garage is a requirement to doing any corridor troubleshoot to the 70 or BRT-feature enhancing it to provide any meaningful help. And any proliferation of new routes out of Waltham Ctr., including shorties from the terminal to the office parks, are impossible until that new West Region garage is online. The new-garage (both Watertown 40-footer and Wellington 60-footer) recs from last decade's bus facilities master study have been passed over for Phase I of Better Bus ongoing and punted to action items to figure out when they've got their battery bus transition plan sorted (since the required fleet padding will then ironclad-require the reliever facilities including Watertown). We're not going to get any action-plan decisions on that for another 1-2 years, and then it's 4-year CIP budget programming before shovel-ready. So for at least two-thirds of the 2020's decade you aren't going to have any straws to grasp for making the wheezing 70 any more useful a link to the new Polaroid redev or the other office parks.

This is why that's not be talked up as any substitute punt for deferral of the 128 station. The garage dependencies leave Waltham S.O.L. for any bus-side service improvements worth a damn until that wholesale fleet distribution revamp gets done. It can't be done in-house.


The whole reason the 128 Corporate Alliance is stanning so hard for that superstation build sooner and floating no-foolin' private monies for a jump-start is because the service proposal for that station includes a private-contracted circulator bus to the office parks from the station right from the get-go. Being private-contracted the circulator would be able to wholly sidestep the Charlestown equipment pinch that leaves the existing West Region Yellow Line S.O.L. for pivots. The Corp. Alliance wants to rent space at either/or Weston's or Lexington's muni bus yards to run the circulator self-contained...sort of how the 'official' Yellow Line Winthrop routes are outside-contracted to Paul Revere Transportation with their 6-bus fleet of leased T buses living at Paul Revere's Chelsea yard instead of at tapped-out Lynn Garage. This will allow them to precision-match waiting circulators 1:1 with train arrivals/departures in a way that is functionally impossible with the strung-out 70, and also scale-up those 1:1 train meets with Phase I RUR service increases. While the 70 will get a *much* improved terminus in the deal trading its Stow St. fizz-out for a proper loop at the superstation, service on it is still going to suck balls that far out and be impossible to time with the trains for as long as it takes to get that West Region garage built.

Theoretically it would be possible for the Corp. Alliance to try to stage these circulators out of Waltham Ctr. instead, but if they're reliant on the very small townie Weston/Lexington bus yards for triage it's a stretch too far for the extra equipment they'd need to order for a Waltham Ctr. run. The feasibility study they asked for ($250K...so far neither MassDOT nor MPO have obliged) would benchmark that possibility in the Alternatives evaluation, but the Alliance's own math says the circulators hit paydirt being self-contained from the superstation from the get-go.
 

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
540
Reaction score
45
Theoretically it would be possible for the Corp. Alliance to try to stage these circulators out of Waltham Ctr. instead
You're talking about the 128bc, right? They've been running (or did run) two routes out of Waltham Center. IIRC ridership on any route has never been that high and they've focused mostly on Alewife strangely enough.

There's also the 61 bus although that doesn't hit the rest of Winter Street.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,766
Reaction score
1,677
You're talking about the 128bc, right? They've been running (or did run) two routes out of Waltham Center. IIRC ridership on any route has never been that high and they've focused mostly on Alewife strangely enough.

There's also the 61 bus although that doesn't hit the rest of Winter Street.
Different outfit. This is the 128 Corporate Alliance...advocacy coalition strictly limited to the US 20 to US 3 leg of 128, biz development and transit accessibility enhancements. They're laser-focused on Waltham-Burlington only.


The older 128bc group does the shuttles, but has always suffered from short attention spans when it comes to the route-priming long game. Always jerking its schedules around so nothing takes root. Throwing in towel way too soon on things like Anderson-Burlington shuttles that have sky-high long-term futures if they'd just tolerate the short-term growing pains. Poor advocacy coordination with the T...they haven't had their act together on stuff like lobbying for completion of the west entrance to Anderson to shorten the shuttle trip (and why not...they gave up on running anything after barely a few years). Disinterest in developing anything radial out of Westwood Landing, Dedham Corporate, or Braintree...which makes a mockery of hyped-up developments like The Block in Canton in addition to keeping Westwood perpetually bottled up as sprawly 'pretend' TOD.

And...yes...the bc is strangely over-focused on Alewife as the center of the universe against all rational logic. They perversely have a Vox On Two resident shuttle van from Alewife that is running today to that monument of waste in literal eyesight...but most of their slate of actual commuter shuttles (including the two barely-useful Waltham ones) are COVID-suspended until who know's when. In a perfect world the Corp. Alliance and the Biz Coalition become partners greater than sum of parts...but in reality the Corp. Alliance's hyper-targeting of the Waltham-Burlington stretch is a return salvo at the bc's spazzy dereliction of duty at keeping to its mission statement. The corporate money on that stretch has also started voting with its feet throwing more weight behind the Corp. Alliance instead, since their founding cause of Polaroid site integration has a much tighter mission statement than anything the Biz Coalition's study/advocacy arm has produced in years. Second stab at Anderson-Burlington shuttles and manifesto to the T to get on with completing the bus-attracting west entrance might end up becoming the Corp. Alliance's bag if nobody else has the stamina for it, since Burlington accessibility is such part-and-parcel their core mission. Similar splintering in effect Needham/Newton with the town-level advocacy around Needham St. redev + New England Business Center picking up the baton from the relative pan-128 vacuum and doing the hardest-hitting study work on the need for better jobs transit there.

Long-term, if the bc doesn't rediscover its mojo with a refocus on its core mission they're quite likely to fragment and fade out of existence. The narrow-target groups proliferating now seem almost predicated on that endpoint. Again...it's a better world hands-down with a stronger and refocused bc working hand-in-hand with the hyper-target groups at delivering the goods, but the actual 128 money seems to be proceeding as if they're never going to pull their heads out of their asses and that they'll be replaced/displaced rather than rehabilitated.
 
Last edited:

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
540
Reaction score
45
I think Alewife is due to the condo complexes that are also in the 128bc, and their preference is Alewife over any other options.
 

Top