Town dropped the ball on Chestnut Street

Even though the Arlington Select Board approved a package of seven pedestrian safety improvements for Chestnut Street on June 21, very little has changed on a very dangerous street.

YourArlington reported on November 30, 2021 that Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine said, “After several months of not hearing back, the town engineer followed up with MassDOT on Nov. 9, who then asked the town to resubmit its plans. On Nov. 16, MassDOT said they’ll review and respond, so we’re now back on MassDOT’s radar.”

In order to understand the reason why  no substantive action has been taken, I submitted a public records request for correspondence between the town and MassDOT pertaining to Chestnut Street. A careful examination of the emails shows that the town dropped the ball when they sent an email, filled with attachments, that was rejected by the state email system due to its size. There was no significant follow-up by the town until the day after five Arlington residents brought the issue to the Select Board’s Open Forum period at its November 8 meeting.

MassDOT did not receive the filing until November 15.

On November 24, nine days after receiving the town’s submission, Paul D. Stedman, MassDOT District 4 Highway Division Director wrote that, “Overall, we do not believe that the proposed changes will negatively impact the intent of those prior improvements.”

The bottom line is that MassDOT has no objection to most of the proposed improvements, including installing curb extensions. The pedestrian-activated warning signal (such as a rectangular rapidly flashing beacon) merely required an agreement that the town would take responsibility for maintaining the signal.

Bottom line: the town sent an attachment-laden email, did not receive confirmation of receipt by MassDOT, and didn’t attempt a meaningful follow-up until the day after five residents brought the town’s failure to act to the Select Board.

Chestnut Street Pedestrian Safety Timeline • December 8, 2021
(Includes email obtained under a FOIA request)

Tuesday, December 31, 2019: Ann Derosiers killed in the Chestnut Street crosswalk at Chestnut Terrace, while attempting to walk to 7:00 a.m. Mass at Saint Agnes.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021: Transportation Advisory Committee approves a series of seven recommendations to improve pedestrian safety along Chestnut Street.

Monday, June 21, 2021: Arlington Select Board approves Transportation Advisory Committee recommendations for Chestnut Street.

Friday, July 30, 2021: Town Engineer Wayne Chouinard sends an email to Paul D. Stedman, MassDOT District 4 Highway Division Director.

From: “Wayne Chouinard” <WChouinard@town.arlington.ma.us>
To: “‘Stedman, Paul D. \(DOT\)'” <paul.stedman@state.ma.us> Cc: “‘Suszynski, Frank G. \(DOT\)'” <frank.suszynski@state.ma.us>, “‘Fallon, Brian M. \(DOT\)'” <brian.fallon@state.ma.us>, “Michael Rademacher” <mrademacher@town.arlington.ma.us>, “Doug Heim” <DHeim@town.arlington.ma.us>, “Jim Feeney” <JFeeney@town.arlington.ma.us>
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2021 17:05:06 -0400
Subject: RE: Town of Arlington Grant Agreement Amendment
Hello Paul,
I have been asked to provide you with information to assist you and your team with the review of recommended modifications proposed for Chestnut Street in Arlington.
Chestnut Street was included in a previous Traffic Control Agreement; #5305 (see attached) with MassDOT.
I have attached select sheets; Traffic Intersection Plan and Signage Plan from the original design. As well as the supporting document submitted to the Select Board for consideration. Please note that the proposed changes are (remainder of paragraph truncated in Public Records response)
If I can be of any assistance or you should require additional information please notify me. Thank you,
Wayne
Wayne A. Chouinard, PE
Town Engineer
Arlington Public Works
51 Grove Street
Office: (781) 316-3320
E-mail: wchouinard@town.arlington.ma.us

Monday, September 27, 2021: Town Engineer Wayne Chouinard resends his July 30 email to Brian Fallon, MassDOT District 4 Projects Engineer.

From: “Wayne Chouinard” <WChouinard@town.arlington.ma.us> To: “brian.fallon@state.ma.us” <brian.fallon@state.ma.us>Cc: “Bill Copithorne” <wcopithorne@town.arlington.ma.us> Date: Mon, 27 Sep 2021 11:11:02 -0400
Subject: Fwd: RE: Town of Arlington Grant Agreement Amendment
Hi Brian,
Here is the email from July. If you need additional information please let me know. Thanks,
Wayne
Wayne A. Chouinard, PE
Town Engineer
Arlington Public Works
51 Grove Street
Office: (781) 316-3320
E-mail: wchouinard@town.arlington.ma.us

Monday, November 8, 2021: The following people spoke regarding the traffic calming concerns on Chestnut Street:
• Paul Schlichtman, 47 Mystic Street
• Linda Varone, 54 Medford Street
• Marcy Beck, 221 Wachusett Avenue
• Rieko Tanaka, 47 Mystic Street
• Jo Anne Preston, 42 Mystic Valley Drive

Tuesday, November 9, 2021: Town Engineer Wayne Chouinard sends an email to Brian Fallon, MassDOT District 4 Projects Engineer, asking if MassDOT has made a determination on proposed changes for Mystic Street.

From: Wayne Chouinard <WChouinard@town.arlington.ma.us>
Sent: Tuesday, November 9, 2021 1:00 PM
To: Wayne Chouinard <WChouinard@town.arlington.ma.us>; Fallon, Brian M. (DOT) <Brian.Fallon@dot.state.ma.us> Cc: Bill Copithorne <wcopithorne@town.arlington.ma.us>; Jim Feeney <JFeeney@town.arlington.ma.us>
Subject: Re: Fwd: RE: Town of Arlington Grant Agreement Amendment – Chestnut St. (Rte. 60)
rldClient.dll?Session=XX0O9DLLH6LGE&View=Message&Print=Yes&Number=67172&FolderID=0 2/8
CAUTION: This email originated from a sender outside of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts mail system.
11/23/21, 1:03 PM 10.100.0.50/WorldClient.dll?Session=XX0O9DLLH6LGE&View=Message&Print=Yes&Number=67172&FolderID=0
10.100.0.50/Wo
Hello Brian,
I wonder whether you have made any determination of progress for the MassDOT review of the proposed changes on Chestnut St.? Since a previous project at this location included a Traffic Control Agreement with MassDOT, we submitted a request to MassDOT to provide comments and/or approval for safety improvements proposed by the Arlington Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) including bike lanes and narrowing/reduction of Rte 60 travel lanes.
Any update you can provide would be helpful so that I may update Town Hall. Thank you,
Wayne
Wayne A. Chouinard, PE
Town Engineer
Arlington Public Works
51 Grove Street
Office: (781) 316-3320
E-mail: wchouinard@town.arlington.ma.us

Monday, November 15, 2021: Town Engineer Wayne Chouinard recognizes that the Chestnut Street submission was too large for the state email system, and successfully sends the files to MassDOT.

 From: Wayne Chouinard <WChouinard@town.arlington.ma.us>
Sent: Monday, November 15, 2021 2:23 PM
To: Fallon, Brian M. (DOT) <Brian.Fallon@dot.state.ma.us>
Cc: Bill Copithorne <wcopithorne@town.arlington.ma.us>; Jim Feeney <JFeeney@town.arlington.ma.us> Subject: RE: Fwd: RE: Town of Arlington Grant Agreement Amendment – Chestnut St. (Rte. 60)

CAUTION: This email originated from a sender outside of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts mail system. Do not cli on links or open attachments unless you recognize the sender and know the content is safe.

Brian,

I have been receiving a delivery failure notice on the email I sent and so will send you the files 2 at a time to keep size down.

See attached.
Wayne

Wednesday, November 24, 2021: Paul D. Stedman, MassDOT District 4 Highway Division Director, responded to the November 9 and November 15 emails. He stated the state did not receive the July 30 email, likely due to the size of the attachments. He writes, “Overall, we do not believe that the proposed changes will negatively impact the intent of those prior improvements.”

From: “Stedman, Paul D. (DOT)” <paul.stedman@state.ma.us> To: “Arlington – Wayne Chouinard, Town Engineer” <WChouinard@town.arlington.ma.us> “DHeim@town.arlington.ma.us” <DHeim@town.arlington.ma.us>, “Suszynski, Frank G. (DOT)” <frank.suszynski@state.ma.us>, “Fallon, Brian M. (DOT)” <brian.fallon@state.ma.us>, “wcopithorne@town.arlington.ma.us” <wcopithorne@town.arlington.ma.us>, “JFeeney@town.arlington.ma.us” <JFeeney@town.arlington.ma.us>, “Gregg, John E. (DOT)” <john.gregg@state.ma.us>
Cc:
Date: 11/24/2021 02:52 PM
Subject: FW: Fwd: RE: Town of Arlington Grant Agreement Amendment – Chestnut St. (Rte. 60)
Good afternoon Wayne – I believe that Frank and I have things sorted out. We both reviewed our email files and neither one of us received the email that you had forwarded on 7/30 that contained a number of attachments. I believe there was likely an issue with the size of the files that prevented delivery. We worked with Brian Fallon and our Traffic Operations Division to review the documents that you provided last week with specific emphasis on the seven recommended improvements detailed in the Transportation Advisory Committee’s presentation dated 6/21/21. Based the requirements of the Traffic Control Agreement (TCA) associated with the prior intersection reconstruction, our review focused primarily on whether the proposed improvements would in any way negate or otherwise significantly impact or alter the intent of those improvements and what amendments may be needed to the TCA to support the proposed changes.
Overall, we do not believe that the proposed changes will negatively impact the intent of those prior improvements. The following comments are provided to assist the community in finalizing the design and in makings the necessary revisions to the TCA.
Items 1 and 2 on the Town’s list are not affected by the existing Traffic Control Agreement (TCA) #5305 (see a ached), and are acceptable.
Item 3, posting of a NTOR sign for the Chestnut St right turn onto Mystic Street is acceptable since approval for it already contained in the TCA.
Item 4, curb extensions, will not affect the TCA either, so they are acceptable.
Item 5, center islands at the Chestnut Terrace and Medford Street crossings, would need to be approved by MassDOT in accordance with Part IV of the TCA. We will need to know the dimensions of the center islands and how they affect the width of travel lanes in conjunction with the restriping proposed in Item 7 (discussed below).
Item 6, installation of a RRFB, must be captured in an amended TCA. It must be stated that Town will have ownership and maintenance responsibilities, similar to the traffic signals that are already included the original TCA
Item 7, restriping to include bike lanes and parking on both sides of Chestnut Street will affect the TCA as the parking is proposed to be time-limited to 4 hours. This needs to be captured in the amended TCA. As noted above, the center islands in Item 5 may affect the ability to provide the proposed 11′ travel lanes.
The District is available to discuss the above comments with the Town as you finalize the documents needed to complete the review and develop the necessary amendments to the TCA.

TAC Recommendations & response from Paul Stedman, MassDOT (11/24/2021)

1. Repair Russell Common Lot driveway and install detectable panels on both sides of driveway.
Items 1 and 2 on the Town’s list are not affected by the existing Traffic Control Agreement (TCA) #5305 (see attached),and are acceptable.
2. Install advanced crosswalk warning signs on both approaches to the crosswalks at Chestnut Terrace and Medford Street.
Items 1 and 2 on the Town’s list are not affected by the existing Traffic Control Agreement (TCA) #5305 (see attached), and are acceptable.
3. Install “No Turn on Red” (NTOR) sign on the right turn lane from Chestnut Street westbound to Mystic Street northbound.
Item 3, posting of a NTOR sign for the Chestnut St right turn onto Mystic Street is acceptable since approval for it already contained in the TCA.
4. Install curb extensions on both ends of the Chestnut Street crosswalks at Chestnut Terrace and Medford Street (temporary to permanent). (Est. cost $45,000 for all extensions for permanent installation.)
Item 4, curb extensions, will not affect the TCA either, so they are acceptable.
5. Install a five-foot center island in the middle of the Chestnut Terrace and Medford Street crosswalks to provide pedestrian refuges in the middle of the roadway (temporary to permanent). (Est. cost $10,000-$15,000 for each island for permanent installation.)
Item 5, center islands at the Chestnut Terrace and Medford Street crossings, would need to be approved by MassDOT in accordance with Part IV of the TCA. We will need to know the dimensions of the center islands and how they affect the width of travel lanes in conjunction with the restriping proposed in Item 7 (discussed below).
6. Install a pedestrian-activated warning signal (such as a rectangular rapidly flashing beacon) or an automatic flashing warning signal at the Chestnut Terrace crosswalk. (Est. cost is approximately $25,000)
Item 6, installation of a RRFB, must be captured in an amended TCA. It must be stated that Town will have ownership and maintenance responsibilities, similar to the traffic signals that are already included the original TCA
7. Restripe Chestnut Street to include the following:
a) 11-foot travel lands in each direction.
b) 7-foot parking lanes on the both sides of Chestnut Street with 4-hour parking permitted.
c) 5-foot bicycle lanes on each side of Chestnut Street.
d) 2-foot buffer lanes between the parking travel lane and bicycle lane on both sides of Chestnut Street.
Item 7, restriping to include bike lanes and parking on both sides of Chestnut Street will affect the TCA as the parking is proposed to be time-limited to 4 hours. This needs to be captured in the amended TCA. As noted above, the center islands in Item 5 may affect the ability to provide the proposed 11′ travel lanes.

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