Bicycle Lanes Coming to Main Street in Watertown
A stretch of Main Street will have new lines put down to add a bike lane and space to park cars.
Bicyclists will soon have their own lane to ride in for most of the length of Main Street in Watertown.
New lines will be put down on Main Street from Bacon Street to the Waltham line, and room will be left for cars to park along the curb, said Steve Magoon, director of Economic Development and Planning.
The town has requested the change from Mass Highway, which controls the portion of Main Street, which is also Rte. 20. The idea grew out of discussions to reconfigure Mt. Auburn Street.
"The conversation led to ways to do interim steps which are more cost effective and improve bicycle and pedestrian safety and bicycle flow," Magoon said.
Main Street will continue to have one lane of car traffic in each direction, said Public Works Superintendent Gerald Mee, and he said it will be able to handle the same amount of traffic.
"We are not changing the configuration, and traffic volume and flow is not changing," Mee said.
He even hopes the new lines will make the road safer for drivers coming eastbound into town from Waltham, where the road goes from two lanes to one.
"When I was driving in, a vehicle drove next to me from the Waltham line to the Police Station," Mee said. "That is not supposed to happen and it is what we are trying to prevent."
Town Councilor Ken Woodland said he strongly supports the move.
"I applaud the effort. It is a great plan," Woodland said. "It is something people on the West End have wanted for a while. People coming into Watertown are not sure if it is two lanes or one."
A small section of Main Street west of Bacon Street – near the intersection with Main Street – will not have a bike lane, Mee said. The road is too narrow there, he said, so drivers and bicyclists will have to share the road there.
Town Council President Mark Sideris suggested that the traffic light at Main and Lexington streets be timed to let people turn left from Main Street eastbound to Lexington Street to prevent traffic from backing up in that spot.
Watertown may also seek to take over the section of Main Street, Mee said, because it would increase the amount of Chapter 90 road funds from the state and give the town more control.
"It is a spur not connected to any other area Mass Highway takes care of," Mee said. "And we do most of the care of the road already - we plow it, salt it and sand it."