Selectmen reaffirm Mass. Ave. project

Despite a narrow majority of voters in favor of keeping four lanes on a portion of Massachusetts Avenue, the town’s selectmen are seeking to proceed with a project that would reduce the number of motor vehicle lanes while adding bicycle lanes. The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Monday to send a letter to state and federal highway officials expressing their desire to push ahead with a reconfiguration of a 1-mile stretch of Massachusetts Avenue in East Arlington. “I think there is ample evidence that the town of Arlington wants this project,” said Selectman Kevin Greeley. In the April 6 town election, 4,334 voters, about 51 percent, voted yes on a nonbinding question asking whether they favored keeping four vehicular lanes on the busy traffic artery, while 4,097 voters, almost 49 percent, cast “no” votes. Members of the East Arlington Concerned Citizens Committee, which organized the effort to have the question placed on the ballot, have said the vote reflects the lack of support for the current plans to reconfigure the street. Greeley said the vote was essentially an even split, and the ballot question was confusing and did not address other benefits of the project. Massachusetts Avenue has two lanes in each direction in East Arlington, but the town is seeking to install bicycle lanes on each side of the roadway, as well as add sidewalk and pedestrian crossing improvements. Selectmen are asking the state Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration to give final approval of $6.8 million in funding, and allow officials to seek bids for the work.