By Seth Daniel
The City of Everett has applied to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) for a $150,000 grant to study the idea of extending the bus-only lane from Sweetster Circle to the City Line along Lower Broadway.
The bus-only lane was unveiled on the western side of Broadway by the City, the MBTA and MassDOT in December from Glendale Square to Sweetster Circle and found great approval amongst the ridership and drivers on Broadway. Overall, trip times decreased significantly and the lane has been such a success that the short-term pilot – expected to only go a few weeks – is still in operation.
Now, the City hopes to use MGC Community Mitigation Fund grant money to study the idea of connecting to the existing lane and having a dedicated bus lane on Broadway from Glendale Square to the City Line. And, if plans in Charlestown proceed as has been suggested, the dedicated lane could extend all the way across the North Washington Street Bridge to the North End.
“This would really try to tie all of these efforts together from Glendale Square to North Washington Street in Boston,” said Jay Monti, an Everett planner. “We’re still working in one direction, going inbound. Space is really tight so we have to consider that.”
Mayor Carlo DeMaria said he is hoping the City gets the grant, which was submitted to the MGC on Feb. 1 and will be announced some time in June or July.
“Studies have shown the best way to reduce traffic congestion is to make our roads multi-modal,” he said. “We are changing the face of transportation in Everett, and throughout the region, with new transit solutions such as bus lanes, bike lanes, trail networks, pedestrian bridge connections and water transportation.”
Monti said it only made sense to connect the two projects.
“This study will really look at the potential of expanding the successes we had on Broadway to Lower Broadway, which actually has more traffic and congestion,” he said. “We really need to take some steps back and look at the long-term.”
Councilor Michael McLaughlin, who represents Lower Broadway, said the study and potential expansion has changed his mind about the Broadway bus lane. He said he has had some reservations about it due to it ending at Sweetser, but with an expansion, he said he can support the plan.
“Extending the bus lane to include Lower Broadway is by far one of the most successful ideas I’ve heard in a long time,” said McLaughlin. “I applaud the Mayor, Community Development and all that have worked on the application for the study. From day one I said I could not support the bus lane because I did not believe it would resolve the congestion in the morning on Route 99 due to the rotary traffic. Now seeing that we will study the feasibility of extending this to lower Broadway and into Boston dramatically changes my opinion of this plan. I am looking forward to this, and hopefully we get the grant.”
Monti added that they have worked with Wynn Boston Harbor in regards to the potential of extending the dedicated bus lane so that they set aside the necessary 10-foot lane in their plans.