Despite a narrow majority of Arlington 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 vehicle lanes.
The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Monday night to send a letter to state and federal highway officials expressing their desire to push ahead with a reconfiguration of a one-mile stretch of Massachusetts Avenue in East Arlington.
“I think there is ample evidence that the town of Arlington wants this project,” said Selectmen Kevin Greeley.
On April 6, Arlington voters narrowly approved a nonbinding measure asking if they favored keeping four vehicular lanes on Massachusetts Avenue in East Arlington. A total of 4,334 voters, about 51 percent, voted in favor of four lanes, and 4,097 voters, almost 49 percent, cast “no” votes.
Greeley said the vote was essentially an even split and the ballot question did not address other benefits of the project. Massachusetts Avenue currently has two lanes in each direction in East Arlington, but the town is seeking reduce the number of vehicle lanes, primarily on the westbound side of the avenue, in order to install bicycle lanes on each side of the roadway. The project will also include sidewalk and pedestrian crossing improvements.
Members of the East Arlington Concerned Citizens Committee, which got the non-binding question on the ballot, have said the vote was clear in its disapproval of the current plans to re-design the street.
Selectmen are asking the state Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration to give their final approval of the $6.8 million in funding for the project and give the go-ahead for the project to be put out to bid.