By Mayor Brian M. Arrigo
Last week we ran through some of the City’s accomplishments of the past summer—and there were quite a few. But it’s also true that once the school buses start to roll and summer vacations come to an end, a lot more drivers occupy the roads. That, of course, means we’re likely to find ourselves sitting with all those other drivers in traffic during our weekday commutes.
If you live and drive in Massachusetts, you are well-acquainted with traffic. Especially if you live in Metropolitan Boston. A few weeks ago the Baker Administration released the results of a comprehensive traffic study that concluded that the state’s traffic issues have reached a “tipping point.” Many of us in Revere may have shrugged, “no kidding.”
We’ve been hard at work to study our local congestion points, devise remedial plans, and promote those plans to the state level agencies that oversee so many miles of roadway that connect Revere to our neighboring communities.
It’s important to understand where all the traffic comes from. When it comes to traffic, it’s the one time that geography isn’t Revere’s friend. Revere absorbs a greater brunt of regional traffic all year round thanks to where we are.
While we hail Revere Beach as our City’s prized gem, its regional popularity draws thousands of visitors into our City every nice day during summer—a season when traffic subsides in most communities.
Another consideration is our proximity to Logan Airport and downtown Boston, magnified by our unique place in the regional transportation structure. Route 1, Route 60, and Route 1A carry thousands of Boston-bound drivers from our northern neighbors into Revere every day. As modern technology such as Waze, Google Maps, and GPS become commonplace, drivers are routinely guided off of those clogged arteries and rerouted onto our local streets.
It’s not just motorists who drive through Revere, it’s also those who drive here to use the public transporation based in our city to get to their destination. An MBTA study released late last year counted some 63,000 riders per day using the Blue Line, up 14 per cent from just five years ago. Ridership at the Wonderland station grew more than at other stations. This suggests that more North Shore T riders are driving into Revere and parking at the T garage and surface parking lots.
This influx of traffic chokes American Legion Highway, North Shore Road, and Revere Beach Boulevard every weekday morning. Our own traffic study determined that more than 90 per cent of morning traffic on North Shore Road and Revere Beach Boulevard crossed the border into our city from the north—and onto our roads.
Keep in mind, most of the major roads that bring vehicles into our city are under the control of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). We are working closely with both departments as we advocate plans originating in Revere’s Community Development department. As these plans proceed through administrative review on the state level, we will continue to advocate on behalf of Revere to make sure we get priority.
Help is on the way:
• The City is finalizing a plan to upgrade all signalized intersections along Broadway with fully-synchronized Adaptive Signal Control Technology that will efficiently regulate traffic flow and adapt for emergency requirements. These improvements will represent a quantum leap from the outdated system now in place.
• After decades of consideration, DOT has abandoned plans to widen Route 1 between Copeland Circle and Route 60 in Saugus. There is good news, however: a recent grant from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will fund roadway improvements and repairs that will repave, restripe, and redesign segments of the roadway that will effectively increase traffic capacity without the prolonged course of new road construction—and at far less cost.
• As a result of the traffic study that we commissioned, we have made significant recommendations to DCR for the redesign of the intersection of Ocean Avenue, Revere Beach Boulevard, and Revere Street. The redesigned pattern, if approved and implemented, will decrease the bottleneck at Ocean Avenue and Revere Street, improve pedestrian safety, and facilitate steady traffic flow in the area.
• Also as a result of our traffic study, we have made additional recommendations to DCR for alterations that will improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety at Eliot Circle.
• The City is working closely with our state delegation to strongly advocate the construction of a commuter rail stop at Wonderland. We are optimistic that future development at Wonderland and at the nearby Necco site on American Legion Highway will advance the argument for this proposal.
• Looking further down the road, the traffic mitigation measures planned by HYM Investments in conjunction with their development of Suffolk Downs devotes $40 million to traffic facilitation measures that include modernized signalization along Revere Beach Parkway and traffic flow alterations at the Route 16-Winthrop Avenue intersection; a new travel lane on McLellan Highway (Route 1A) between Railroad Avenue and Border Street, along with a new traffic flow pattern at the McLellan Highway—Border Street intersection; and the construction of a new exit off Route 1 Southbound onto Route 16 eastbound.
• The Baker Administration has signaled its support for major new tools to combat roadway congestion, including an $18 billion plan to repair and expand the public transit system.
Make no mistake: traffic is not a local problem. It is a regional problem that we are taking seriously along with our state partners.
Revere is in better position than most in dealing with traffic. We are far ahead of other communities, as we already have plans in action to address traffic concerns.
Our plans are based on an educated understanding of what causes traffic, careful consideration of traffic management, and advocacy for adequate alternatives. At City Hall, we are working toward relief.
Mayor Brian Arrigo is the Mayor for the City of Revere.