Advocating for Better Routes Between Needham and Newton

As you may have heard, the Rt 128 Add-a-Lane project will work its way north n the next couple years, and undertake some major construction on the two primary bridges that connect Needham and Newton: Highland Ave and Kendrick St.

More information about the plan here , and an embedded map (PDF) of the area is shown below.

The project will add exit and entrance ramps between the Kendrick St. bridge  and Rt. 128/95. The Kendrick St. bridge will grow from three lanes to five lanes to accommodate the additional traffic.

The Kendrick Bridge plan also includes bike lanes on both sides of the crossing, as well as a pedestrian sidewalk.

The problem is that bicycle and pedestrian crossing on the Kendrick St. bridge - as well as the Highland Ave bridge - will likely become less safe , due to the high-speed exits and entrances, and the higher volume of traffic.

The Kendrick St. bridge in particular is part of an extremely popular bicycle route, and the most common passage to enable cyclists from Needham to commute or explore in town routes, while also being a favorite route for recreational cyclists to exit the city for the leafier environs n Needham and to our west. Hundreds of cyclists cross Kendrick each week, and the current plan puts them at greater risk

Advocacy groups in Needham and Newton have joined to escalate the concern. We have a vision where more open, clean and safe passage between Needham and Newton will provide access to resources like Cutler Park and the Charles River, where shopping on Needham St. can be a less congested experience, where commuting to Newton and further in-town can be safer and more appealing.

Our feeling is that MassDOT has not given the challenge sufficient thought, nor have they explored various alternatives that would make the Needham-Newton boundary safer, more open and more accessible. A Complete Streets approach will help build the office park area on the east side of Rt. 128, by attracting businesses that want to enable alternative modes for their workers in a safe, less congested environment.

Alternative approaches exist but have not been considered:

  • Creating a bike/ped path across the highway where the abandoned train line now crosses.
  • Designing an parallel bridge alongside Highland Ave or Kendrick Sr. strictly for bicycles and pedestrians
  • Creating a culvert from the base of Hunting Rd. under Rt. 128, connecting with A St and the DCR path along the river. ( )

We're looking to put together a public meeting with MassDOT and local officials within the next 4-6 weeks to have them review their plans, and address concerns and hear about alternatives from the public. Stay tuned in this space for more info on the topic.