Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Work Continues on the Raised Table

Here's Henry in the middle of it all:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Raised Tables and Curb Bump Out Finally Going in!

It feels like a LONG time coming, but I'm very excited to write that the construction of the raised table at Willow and Kidder is already complete, and work has begun on the sidewalk construction at the corner of Willow and Summer this week. We have confirmation from Stan Koty that the raised table at Summer will begin next week, and the following week we'll have new paving, a bump out at Elm, and re-striped bike lanes.

Huge thanks to all of the neighbors for supporting this initiative. Huge thanks to Mayor Joe Curtatone for sticking by his promise. Huge thanks to the Willow Ave traffic group for coming up with the plan to make this positive step towards safety for the residents of Willow Ave and the surrounding streets. I'm a little shocked that this is actually happening....

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Stan Koty Confirms Pedestrian Safety Measure Bid Has Been Awarded

Following is a mail from Stan Koty, DPW Commissioner on July 16 2010:

Dear Mr. Shugrue:

I am very sorry for the delayed response; I have been tied up this week due to the flood in Somerville. The bid for the project was awarded yesterday. I do not have an exact start date for the work yet, but, it will be very soon. You and your fellow neighbors will be notified regarding the details of the construction.

Please fell free to contact me if you have any further questions or concerns,


Stan Koty

DPW Commissioner

617-625-6600 ext. 5110

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rough Chronicle of Communication with the City Since June 2 Meeting with Mayor Curtatone

Aftermath of October 2009 Accident at Willow and Summer:

March 2010 Crash, Willow and Summer:

4 different neighbors, as well as 3 different members of the original Willow Ave Traffic Group, have sent repeated e-mails to Mayor Curtatone, Stan Koty, Matthew Dias, and others asking for updates on when/if the improvements will be implemented. Here's a rough recap of the replies we've received in the two years since the meeting:

---------- Forwarded message ---------->>
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 2009 10:31:01 -0400
Subject: Curb bump out at Elm and Willow, raised intersection at Willow and Summer
Hi Joe --

This is Dan Shugrue checking in from Willow Ave. Melora and I met with you at your office in the Summer of 2008 regarding traffic safety improvements for Willow Avenue, at the intersections of Willow and Elm and Willow and Summer. At the time, you had promised to install a bulb out at Willow and Elm and a raised intersection at Willow and Summer St. Originally we were told the bulb out would happen in the Fall of 08 and the raised intersection in July of '09. When we last spoke you said the city wanted to do both before school started in '09. Neither improvement has been installed to date. Can you or someone on your staff give us an update on the latest schedules and plans?

Thanks and regards,

Reply from the city, Sept 28 2009:

Hi Dan,

I apologize for the delay in my response, but wanted to let you know that I am researching this issue with both the Dept. of Transportation and Infrastructure, and the DPW, and hope to have more information for you tomorrow.

Please don’t hesitate to call with any questions in the meantime.


Jackie Rossetti
Deputy Director of Communications
City of

Feb 2010:

From: daniel shugrue []
Sent: Sunday, February 28, 2010 9:41 AM
To: Mayor
Cc: Rebekah Gewirtz; Mark Chase;; David Booth; Melora Rush
Subject: Fwd: Curb bump out at Elm and Willow, raised intersection at Willow and Summer

Hi Joe -- I'm writing to get an update from you regarding safety improvement measures to Willow Ave, specifically at Elm and Willow and Elm and Summer. It's been almost two years since we spoke with you at City Hall and enthusiastically endorsed your commitment to safety. (

Since then, at
Willow and Elm, I have witnessed the aftermath of 3 car crashes, all of which damaged private property and some of which damaged city property (street signs torn down, firebox completely torn off). I have also personally witnessed several shouting matches between pedestrians and cars, and even more honking and near-misses of passing bicyclists.

The traffic group is excited to finally have our recommendations implemented during this construction season. We understand that plans are being drawn up now for the coming Spring and Fall construction. We'd like to meet with you to find out when
Willow Ave will be reconstructed and when these vital safety measures will be implemented.

I am willing to offer my home as a site for a meeting between you, the
Willow Ave traffic group, and my neighbors at Willow Ave. Please tell us when we can meet to discuss the upcoming constructions season and specific (when and how) plans to upgrade safety (including a bump out at Willow and Elm and a raised intersection at Willow and Summer).

I look forward to your response.


March 2010:
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Matthew Dias>
Date: Thu, Mar 4, 2010 at 12:20 PM
Subject: RE: Curb bump out at Elm and
Willow, raised intersection at>>,>

Good morning, Dan.

Mayor Curtatone has read your email and asked me to reply. I apologize that it has taken us so long to get back to you, and I can understand your frustration with the delay.

However, I am happy to report that traffic calming measures on Willow Ave. is among the Mayor’s highest priority for street reconstruction/renovation this year. The Somerville Department of Public Works has been working throughout the winter with a design consultant on plans to control and mitigate high speed traffic on your street. As a result, a “Willow Ave.” project application was submitted to District 4 of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MDOT) for raised tables (a traffic calming feature that reduces vehicle speeds) at the intersections of Summer St. and Willow Ave. and Willow and Kidder Ave. Once a decision had been made by MDOT and, assuming successful, raised tables will be installed, as well as bump outs at Willow and Elm Street.

We hope to have this request approved by MDOT in April. However, there are no guarantees; these measure are very costly (approximately $100K each) and the State evaluates each application against a very detailed and specified set of criteria.

That being said, we believe we have made a very strong case for MDOT to approve our application. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact our DPW Commissioner, Stan Koty, at 617.625.6600skpe_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting class="skype_pnh_highlighting_inactive_common"> 617.625.6600 end_of_the_skype_highlighting ext 5100.

Thank you for taking the time to follow up.


March 15 2010:

Dear Mayor Curtatone,

I'm writing to express my concern regarding recent communication from your administration addressing the recommended pedestrian safety improvements on Willow Ave at Elm and Summer streets. The volunteer group on which I served for 12 weeks in the Fall of 2007 recommended several improvements to pedestrian safety on this stretch of Willow. Specifically, Dan Shugrue and Melora Rush met with you and requested a curb bump out at Willow and Summer and a raised intersection at Willow and Elm. At that meeting, you committed to both improvements -- the bump out in June of '08 and the raised intersection before the school year started in Sept of 08. That meeting is documented here:

Since that meeting, 3 car accidents have occurred at Willow and Summer. Also since that meeting, no pedestrian safety measures have been implemented. In addition, your administration has informed us that the safety improvements are contingent upon receiving funding from MDOT, a contingency which was not communicated to us or the neighbors on Willow Ave in the two years since you made your commitment.

We hope that you will honor your original commitment.

We also hope that something be done, immediately, to alleviate danger at Willow/Elm and Willow/Summer. Specifically, we hope to see
a) the bump out at Elm, as originally promised, installed before the re-paving of Willow
b) temporary safety measures at Willow and Summer -- namely, switch to blinking red in both directions so that people stop trying to make the light and causing accidents

Thank you and regards,

(Several other neighbors and members of the Willow Ave traffic group sent similar letters).

March 15 2010:

Hi Daniel.

Apologies. After re-reading my email, I think I confused everyone about the Mayor’s approach to traffic calming measures on Willow Avenue.

Indeed, you are correct; regardless of the MASSDOT application, the City plans to construct traffic calming measures on Willow Ave during this calendar year. So there are NO contingencies on our plans. However, due to limited resources, we are, of course, hoping that our application with the State is approved. But again, we plan to construct traffic calming measures on Willow this year, so I apologize for the confusion.

Per your request, I will also look into whether or not residents are able to monitor our application with MASSDOT. I’ll keep you posted.

Please feel free to call me with any questions. I would call myself but I do not have your number. Many thanks,


Matthew J. Dias

Mayor’s Office

City of Somerville

93 Highland Ave.

Somerville, MA 02143

W: (617) 625-6600 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (617) 625-6600 end_of_the_skype_highlighting ext. 2105

C: (857) 636-8518

May 2010:

> Dear Mr. Gilsdorf:
> The City of Somerville is currently out to bid on two street reconstruction
> projects. A third street reconstruction project will be put out to bid in
> July. This third contract will include the raised tables. Once the
> contract is awarded, the street work on Willow Ave. will begin.

> Thank you for your continued patience throughout this process,
> Sincerely,
> Stan Koty
> DPW Commissioner

July 2010:

Dear Mr. Koty --

We understand that a bid for the reconstruction of Willow Ave, including raising tables at Willow/Summer and at Willow/Kidder, and providing a curb bump out at Willow/Elm, is to go out in July. Can you confirm that this bidding process is still on schedule?

Thank you,
Daniel Shugrue

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Block Party 2008 Recap

The (mostly annual) Willow Ave block party was held on Oct 26th this year. We had a great turnout...many neighbors, family of neighbors, friends, and strangers showed up. I'd guess around 75 people in all.

Redbones BBQ was on hand. Donene and Michael brought folding tables. David manned the grill and served up burgers, dogs, and veggie burgers. (He also brought out a TV so that we could watch the game). Brad and family supplied warm apple cider as well as coffee. MaryLou, Jim and the triplets brought out huge bowls of popcorn. Somebody (shhhh!) brought a cooler of beers. Lots of cake and cookies were consumed. Zion brought lots and lots of soda which kept the kids plenty energized.

For activities, we didn't have too much structure. We had one neighbor show up with the biggest skateboard I've ever seen. Marisa and Ben wheeled their outdoor ping pong table over. Lots of kids buzzed around on their bicycles. Kelle painted faces for a good two hours, Bonnie took over and helped out for another couple hours. A couple of neighbors took advantage of the crowd and held yard sales. Suzanne provided a great set of music, including guest performances by some of the teens on Willow Ave.

The bouncy house was again a big hit with the kids. (Thanks for Anne-Marie and Paul for handling all bouncy house logistics!) Mayhem pretty much reigned, with lots of bouncing and only one (minor) injury.

We had lots of talk of pedestrian safety last year, and we've seen the addition of bike lanes this year, but strangely there wasn't much talk about traffic calming or ped safety at this years party. Everyone just seemed to be out, talking, enjoying the street, eating, drinking and having a good time.

We look forward to an even bigger block party next year, with more neighbors and friends coming out to join in the fun! If you have comments or want to be included in the planning stage, please leave your name and e-mail in the comments field.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Willow Ave Block Party! October 26th 1 - 4 pm

We're having another block party! The street will be blocked off to cars, we'll have food, drinks for kids and adults, and games. We're trying to get the moonwalk back as well.

If you can help set up or if you can bring a food/drink item, please e-mail

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mayor Joe Curtatone Agrees to install bulb outs, raised intersections

Following is from Melora and David's letter to the editor of the Somerville Journal:

Dear Mayor Curtatone:

You met with Willow Avenue resident Dan Shugrue and me on June 2 to discuss the pedestrian safety recommendations of the Davis Square Transportation Design Group. We wish to thank you for your commitment to add bulb-out curb extensions to the intersection of Willow and Elm by fall 2008, and a speed table to the intersection of Willow and Summer when Willow is repaved in 2009, in accordance with the group's recommendations. We appreciate your commitment to improving pedestrian safety, and we hope these steps will serve as a model for cost-effective safety improvements throughout the city.

We also wish to thank the members of the Davis Square Transportation Design Group (Cassie Arnaud, Beatriz C. Gomez Mouakad, David Loutzenheiser, Brian Postlewaite, Dan Shugrue and several others) who spent many hours -- entirely volunteer -- over a 12-week period gathering input from Willow Avenue neighbors, devising a suitable and cost-effective plan, and documenting the resulting recommendations that were presented to Mayor Curtatone on June 2:

Finally, thanks to Dan Shugrue for preparing an excellent presentation and for going door-to-door with us last winter to discuss the issue with neighbors, and thanks to Ace Wheel Works for publicizing the proposed safety improvements in their store.

Melora Rush and David Booth
Elm Street