PSNA September 20 Meeting on the "Condition of Porter Square"

Pedestrian Walkway along Somerville Avenue

At our September 20th meeting Owen O'Riordian, Commissioner, DPW and Melissa Miguel, DPW, Senior Engineer working with MBTA and Somerville (on the project described below) will join us to talk about the issues, condition and maintenance of the plazas near the Porter Square T stop and the city sidewalks in the area.

Many of you will remember that we just did a "Clean Up Porter Square and Mass Ave" covering some of this area, and we can briefly update you on that.

More to the point for our meeting, the MBTA is responsible for the structural integrity of the sidewalk along Somerville Avenue, as it is cantilevered over the commuter rail tracks.  In May, a void was identified in the sidewalk.  Cambridge and Somerville immediately contacted the MBTA.  This sidewalk along Somerville Avenue is predominantly in Somerville, but a portion is in Cambridge, so the 2 cities have been working collaboratively with the MBTA on this issue.  The MBTA closed the sidewalk to ensure pedestrian safety and set up the current pedestrian detour.  

Several of us reached out regarding the temporary nature of the pedestrian detour and the need for something more protected given the length of the design process; particularly as we enter the winter season.  Kathy Watkins of Cambridge DPW has subsequently discussed the project with the MBTA contact, and we hope to even have someone from the T with us for the meeting.  

In addition to that MBTA project, many of us have watched the complaints on SeeClickFix and become increasingly concerned with both the look and the safety of the crumbling concrete, temporary asphalt patches which seem to last for years, and cracks which are a definete trip hazard especially for those who are elderly or disabled all around the Square. 

I walked the area with Owen several days before the clean up and observed the conditions, as well as the number of dead or dying trees (a subject we hope to tackle in October). It certainly is not the clean, well-cared for, and inviting place our merchants and our new hotels deserve, and our own out of town/country visitors might expect.

Hopefully, we will have a better understanding, after the meeting, of the causes, the responsibility for, but most importantly, the solutions and time-table for "fixing" our Square.

See you there!

September 20, 7-9, Lesley University Hall, Room 2-078