Remove McGrath: Neighborhoods Not Highways
Jun 29, 2012
LivableStreets Alliance, the latest recipient of an Advocacy Advance Rapid Response Grant, was awarded $1,000 to support advocacy efforts of their “Remove McGrath” campaign. They have been working to stop the proposed repair of the McCarthy Overpass on the McGrath Highway and have MassDOT redirect funds to create a biking, walking and transit corridor in Boston.
The McGrath/O'Brien Highway is a section of Massachusetts State Route 28 that passes through densely populated residential areas of Cambridge and Somerville. The McCarthy Overpass is due for repair as part of the Commonwealth’s $3 billion Accelerated Bridge Program (ABP). There are no safe bicycle or pedestrian accommodations in the corridor connecting a dozen neighborhoods and business districts. At this point, assuming the likely possibility that the temporary repair contract will move forward, advocates are engaged in insisting that the $11 million be re-scoped and at least 10% redirected to immediate surface improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians.
After hundreds of residents signed postcards and spoke out at a public meeting on May 31, MassDOT announced that the overpass will be removed. But officials insist it will not happen until at least 2022, and in the meantime they want to spend $11 million to repair it.
"I've walked, biked, taken transit and driven around McGrath,” said one Somerville resident, “and no matter what mode I use, I feel unsafe."
The Rapid Response Grant funds will support LivableStreets’ efforts to continue to put pressure on MassDOT to commit to a shorter timeline and grow the Re-visioning McGrath Corridor Coalition to build consensus to speak as one powerful voice. The Re-Visioning McGrath Corridor Coalition is working to shape streets in the McGrath /O'Brien Corridor to make the surrounding communities more livable, healthy, and prosperous. The unified coalition has formulated a set of five common values that each of its member groups will push for:
Reunite neighborhoods cut apart by the highway;
Humanize the space by lowering traffic speeds, reducing noise and pollution, narrowing lane width, and reducing the current six (or more) lanes to four;
Safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and bus riders must be improved to make traveling across and along the corridor more inviting;
Green the corridor with more trees, grass, storm-water drainage, and other green features;
Economic development will flourish, encouraging local retail and job-creating businesses; including crafts-based and green-economy enterprises.
After planning is underway, the next step will be to shift focus to pressure MassDOT to identify funding source(s) for the highway bridge removal. It is expected that a significant portion of these funds will come from the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), a highly political process. LIvableStreets’ role will be to build support from the voting MPO members for the allocation of the needed funds.
Advocates will host a tour of the corridor with transportation leaders and legislators to raise awareness about the current issues, mobilize citizens in the community through public events, grassroots outreach, and social media, and deploy Street Ambassadors this summer to talk to citizens and businesses and get 1,000 postcards signed addressed to Massachusetts Transportation Secretary and Somerville Mayor.
As the known vocal advocate to MassDOT and the City of Somerville, LivableStreets has taken the lead in being the voice for comprehensive change of the McGrath Highway corridor.
Advocacy Advance is pleased to offer an additional $21,000 of Rapid Response Grants in 2012 to help state and local organizations take advantage of unexpected opportunities to win, increase, or preserve funding for biking and walking.
The Advocacy Advance partnership between the League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Biking & Walking, funded by SRAM, has awarded over $800,000 in grants and scholarships to member organizations since 2009. In addition to grants, the Advocacy Advance team provides necessary resources, technical assistance, coaching, and training to bike/ped advocacy organizations around the country.
If you have any questions, contact Brighid at Brighid@AdvocacyAdvance.org or 202-621-5442.