Highland Avenue Redesign Project

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The Mayor and the City Council have both endorsed the community-led vision for a Highland Avenue that includes protected bicycle lanes, pedestrian safety measures, and MBTA bus improvements. As part of the City’s Bicycle Network Plan, Highland Ave is designated for two-way protected facilities by 2030.

While these changes necessitate a reduction in parking, the City is committed to engaging community members to better understand needs in the area and develop strategies for effectively managing shared parking resources. Particular attention will be focused on effective loading zones, pick-up and drop off locations, and accommodating persons with disabilities using all modes of transportation.

The Highland Avenue Redesign follows the completion of the Spring Hill Sewer Separation project to upgrade underground water, sewer and utility infrastructure along the street. The redesign includes sidewalk and roadway surface improvements from Cutter Avenue to Hamlet Street.

Somerville’s Fiscal Year 2023 Capital Investment Plan (FY2023 CIP), presented to the City Council in March 2023, includes design and outreach funding for Highland Avenue available as soon as July 2025, and construction services funding starting July 2026.


The Mayor and the City Council have both endorsed the community-led vision for a Highland Avenue that includes protected bicycle lanes, pedestrian safety measures, and MBTA bus improvements. As part of the City’s Bicycle Network Plan, Highland Ave is designated for two-way protected facilities by 2030.

While these changes necessitate a reduction in parking, the City is committed to engaging community members to better understand needs in the area and develop strategies for effectively managing shared parking resources. Particular attention will be focused on effective loading zones, pick-up and drop off locations, and accommodating persons with disabilities using all modes of transportation.

The Highland Avenue Redesign follows the completion of the Spring Hill Sewer Separation project to upgrade underground water, sewer and utility infrastructure along the street. The redesign includes sidewalk and roadway surface improvements from Cutter Avenue to Hamlet Street.

Somerville’s Fiscal Year 2023 Capital Investment Plan (FY2023 CIP), presented to the City Council in March 2023, includes design and outreach funding for Highland Avenue available as soon as July 2025, and construction services funding starting July 2026.


  • January 2024 Update – Upcoming Utility Work and Interim Partial Paving

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    To help community members stay informed on planned work for Highland Avenue, the City of Somerville is sharing an update regarding the current timeline for the utility work and interim paving that will precede the full redesign.

    Utility Upgrades on Eastern Highland Ave. (Winter/Spring 2024)

    Ongoing utility work as part of the Spring Hill Sewer Separation project is underway. In addition to that work, the City and Eversource Gas have coordinated to prioritize Eversource’s Gas Main Upgrades project. Gas main upgrades are currently expected to start in early February 2024.

    Recently completed and upcoming utility improvements along eastern Highland Avenue include:

    • Spring Hill Sewer Separation (Sewer, Drainage, and Water Main Upgrades)
      • Central St. - Walnut St. - completed fall 2023
      • Walnut St. - Thorpe St. - spring 2024
    • Eversource Gas Main Replacement
      • Benton Rd. - School St. - winter/spring 2024

    Interim Paving Work Plan

    The next step following completion of utility work will be paving of the two travel lanes of the roadway (approximately 28-feet wide). This partial paving, which does not include the parking areas next to the curbs, is intended to restore the road surface travel areas. This is an interim measure to support safe travel for all users of the road until the full redesign and reconstruction of Highland Avenue. Paving is on schedule to occur in early summer of 2024. This interim paving is expected to extend from roughly McGrath Highway to Central Street.

    For more details, check out voice.somervillema.gov/springhillsewer.

    Highland Ave. Redesign - Current Timeline and Next Steps

    Somerville’s fiscal year 2023 Capital Investment Plan (FY2023 CIP) presented to the City Council in March 2023 includes design services funding proposed for Highland Avenue in FY2026 (between July 2025 and July 2026) and construction services proposed for funding in FY2027 (between July 2026 and July 2027)

    The CIP is updated annually and the City is committed to exploring opportunities to move design funding earlier. The development of Somerville’s fiscal year 2024 CIP, originally scheduled for release in fall 2023, is currently ongoing as macroeconomic trends and evolving community needs are incorporated.

  • July 2023 Update

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    Update 8/1: Since we published the update below, we’ve received a number of questions about the planned approach, current timeline, and relationship with other City projects (notably the currently ongoing sewer work in Spring Hill). We’ve answered the most commonly asked questions here.

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    Thank you to everyone who has shared feedback about the future of Highland Avenue. We appreciate your input about the city’s transportation needs and your traffic safety concerns on Highland Ave.

    It remains a crucial goal of the Ballantyne Administration to rebuild a Highland Avenue with protected bike lanes, safer crosswalks, more traffic calming, improved bus services, and more greenery. These changes mean that only one parking lane can be provided on the Highland Ave of the future instead of the two that exist today. The City is committed to employing curb use strategies to make the best use of limited parking resources, prioritize access for persons with disabilities, and favor shorter term vehicular uses over long term vehicle storage.

    The following message is intended to provide an update on the status of the project, provide clarity on what has changed since the November 2021 public meeting, and identify upcoming opportunities to move up the project’s timeline.

    Background

    The City hosted the first Highland Avenue community meeting in November 2021 in anticipation of submitting a funding request to the City Council for design services at the end of that year. The funding request was not submitted as originally planned, however, due to the increased fiscal volatility in the COVID recovery era. This project, along with many other planned capital projects, was put on hold while the City reevaluated its financial capacity and developed a prioritized Capital Investment Plan for the first time since 2020.

    Current Timeline

    The FY2023 Capital Investment Plan (CIP) was presented to the City Council and published in March 2023. The Highland Ave Redesign Project was included in the CIP, with design services proposed for funding in FY2026 (between July 2025 and July 2026) and construction services proposed for funding in FY2027 (between July 2026 and July 2027). This is the current funding plan and timeline for the Highland Avenue Redesign Project.

    The graphic below summarizes the progress of the Highland Ave Redesign Project to date:


    Next Steps

    Although Highland Ave is currently programmed for FY2026 and FY2027 in the CIP, this plan is updated annually to account for dynamic financial, construction, and supply chain conditions and to ensure the City can be responsive to changing community priorities and needs. The next update will take place during the fall of 2023. As the CIP is updated, the City is committed to reviewing opportunities to move Highland Avenue design forward in the five-year spending plan. The specifics of such a change will be determined as a part of the annual CIP update and will be presented to the public this fall. The City’s recent upgrade to a AAA bond rating is expected to have a positive effect on project costs and timelines.

    The City will restart community engagement activities for the Highland Ave Redesign Project following the approval of funds for design services. Community members are encouraged to continue to share transportation safety concerns on Highland Ave to City staff.

    To stay up to date on this project, please subscribe to the Mobility Monthly Newsletter.

  • Take the Highland Ave Redesign Survey!

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    The City is reconstructing the street to create an improved Highland Ave with pedestrian safety measures, MBTA bus improvements, and protected bicycle lanes. To reach this vision, City staff are looking at how to more efficiently use curb space to make it safer and easier for people traveling Highland Ave by any mode. We also want to learn more about how people use the street today and improvements they would like to see.

    The City presented information about the scope and opportunities at a virtual community meeting on November 17, 2021. Check out the presentation slides and recording to learn more.

    We want to hear from you! Please take the Highland Ave Redesign Survey. The survey is available in English, Español, Portugues, Kreyòl Ayisyen, नेपाली. The information you share will help the City prioritize improvements and develop design concepts for the street.

    The survey deadline has been extended to Tuesday, May 31, 2022.

    You can also put comments in specific locations on the Public Input Map!

  • Highland Ave Redesign Project Community Meeting

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    Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, Ward 3 Councilor Ben Ewen-Campen, Ward 5 Councilor Mark Niedergang, and Ward 6 Councilor Lance Davis invite you to a virtual community meeting to discuss the Highland Ave Redesign Project.

    At this meeting, City staff will detail the project scope and timeline, present parking data information, share customer and business survey response summaries, and gather public feedback.

    The meeting will take place virtually on Wednesday, November 17, at 6:30 p.m. Please register at the following link: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_OMhPa_R4RnOqXtRTetEpEQ.

    To join by phone:

    • One tap mobile: US: +13126266799,,88299321167# or +16465588656,,88299321167#
    • Or dial a number based on your current location and use the Webinar ID
      • US: +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 558 8656 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 720 707 2699 or +1 253 215 8782
      • Webinar ID: 882 9932 1167

    For any questions, please email transportation@somervillema.gov(External link).

    Interpretation into Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Kreyol, or Nepali may be available upon advance request by contacting the SomerViva Office of Immigrant Affairs at somerviva@somervillema.gov(External link) or calling 311 at 617-666-3311.

    Persons with disabilities who need auxiliary aids and services for effective communication (i.e., CART, ASL), written materials in alternative formats, or reasonable modifications in policies and procedures in order to access the programs, activities, and meetings of the City of Somerville should please contact Nancy Bacci at 617-625-6600 x 2250 or nbacci@somervillema.gov(External link).

Page last updated: 29 Jan 2024, 03:36 PM