The transformation of Mount Auburn Street into a Complete Street has been a priority for the Town of Watertown since 2007, when it began a series of public workshops and conceptual designs for the Coolidge Square business district. The project area was soon extended to include Mount Auburn Street from the Cambridge City line to Patten Street.
Mount Auburn Street is an approximately 2-mile-long urban principal arterial connecting Watertown Square on the west with the City of Cambridge on the east. Land use along the corridor is medium-density commercial and residential. The roadway travels through the Coolidge Square business district and past Watertown High School and Hosmer Elementary School. The roadway, which is under Town jurisdiction but carries State Route 16, was last reconstructed by MassHighway as an Urban Systems project in the early 1980s with little regard to users other than through-traffic.
The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) was initiated by MassDOT in 2007 with $12.2 million dedicated to redesigning and constructing Mount Auburn Street. The project is currently programmed for advertisement (and selection of a contractor) in Fiscal Year 2022, and recently scored the highest on the TIP for Complete Streets objectives. The next major project milestone will be the 25% Design submission to MassDOT.
The project team is coordinating with the MBTA and the DCR Fresh Pond/Mount Auburn Street Corridor Study. Discussions with the MBTA include replacement of overhead catenary wires, which will improve bus operations by reducing breakdowns. Bus stop locations were previously studied as part of the MBTA Priority Bus Route Program and will be revisited as needed.