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Several projects would boost bicycle access in Newton

Needham Street in Newton.Rose Lincoln

Newton is planning several projects to add more bicycle lanes to the city’s infrastructure, including Needham Street in Newton Upper Falls, a stretch of Commonwealth Avenue from Auburndale to Chestnut Hill, and near the Riverside MBTA station in Newton Lower Falls.

The improvements will be part of a $31.1 million project approved by the state Department of Transportation for the reconstruction of a 1.7-mile stretch of roadway connecting Needham and Newton Upper Falls.

The project, slated to begin this summer, includes stretches of Highland Avenue in Needham; Needham Street in Newton Upper Falls; and the roadway’s bridge spanning the Charles River, the agency said in a statement Tuesday.


Among the improvements will be the creation of raised bike lanes, shared-use paths, and new sidewalks, according to the transportation agency, along with new traffic signals in two locations, and replacement signals in five other spots along the corridor.

The project’s goal is to improve pedestrian accommodations, provide bicycle accommodations, and improve traffic operations and safety, the statement said.

"This heavily traveled corridor will receive a much-needed upgrade and because of the involvement of the local delegation, the communities, and a high level of participation from the public, we are able to achieve our goal of providing important safety and functionality improvements while adding pedestrian and bicycle accommodations,” Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said in the statement.

Andreae Downs, a councilor-at-large from Ward 5, is among a group of city councilors calling on Newton to legalize two-way bicycle traffic along a roughly 5-mile stretch of Commonwealth Avenue’s carriage lane, from Woodbine Street in Auburndale to Mt. Alvernia Road in Chestnut Hill.

The proposal would include new signage, traffic signals, and physical barriers in some locations to limit access by vehicles.

At Riverside, where Mark Development is seeking permission to build a mixed-use development at the station’s existing parking lot and adjacent Indigo Hotel, the proposal includes multiple improvements for bicycle access, according to Barney Heath, the city’s planning and development director.


One bicycle lane would parallel Route 128, cross the Charles River, and connect Grove Street to Recreation Road and Riverside Park, he said.

Along Grove Street, city councilors are considering a two-way raised bike lane on the road’s western side that would run from Riverside south to the Lower Falls Community Center, he said.

Councilors also are contemplating a separate painted bike lane that would run northbound along the opposite side of Grove Street.

The proposed bike lanes would be built in Grove Street’s existing right-of-way, and would not widen the roadway, he said.

John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.