Did you know you can report infrastructure problems to the city of Waltham through an online form? We also have a form for zoning violations. This is a good first step in making it easy for residents to report some problems, but I think we can do more. Rather than hunting for the correct department, residents should be able to simply pick up the phone, dial 311, and easily access the help they need with paving, trash pick-up, snow removal, or other problems. This investment will also help the city identify ongoing maintenance problems and address them early, before they worsen.
As part of this year’s budgeting process, I am asking all departments to review and update their key outputs to better reflect account for the calls and emails they receive, to track recurring issues and the time spent addressing them, and to design metrics that better reflect how they serve the public. I hope this effort will eventually lead to a centralized 311 hotline, and will continue to make the case that we can realize cost savings and improve services by putting this system into place.
Traffic and Infrastructure
As Ward 7 Councillor, I have advocated for several traffic and infrastructure projects to benefit you. As part of the 128/20 rotary reconstruction project, Stowe Street will be dead-ended, protecting our neighborhoods from commercial traffic. Additionally, Livingstone Lane and Sibley Lane are being evaluated for noise barriers. I have also secured approval for a new flashing crosswalk signal to improve safety on South Street, and for the lanes to be narrowed by painting to reduce speeds in this area. Our police department has also provided a lighted speed limit sign on Weston Street to reduce speeds and increase safety.
Several Ward 7 streets are scheduled to be re-paved this year, including Andrea Road, Bedford Street, Boynton Street, and Cabot Street. The mayor is working to schedule Summit Ave to be paved as well, and I look forward to supporting this project.
I am currently working to correct the timing and back-ups affecting Tavern Road at the intersection with Weston Street by adjusting the light timing, and have requested a “don’t block the box” painted grid.
Waltham still has a problem with paving our private ways. I recently supported approval of a change so residents are responsible for only 33% of the cost to re-pave private ways (1). However, many are still unable to afford the cost of paving. In some areas, the city has born up to 90% of the reconstruction costs, and I will work with residents of Ward 7 to secure this same level of funding wherever possible.
I also support the city accepting any private way into our public inventory, if requested by all current abutters, no matter the current condition. This would transfer the ownership, and the responsibility for paving costs, to the city, equalizing every tax payer and removing this added burden for private ways.
Biking in Waltham
Waltham is currently working to improve many of our major roads, and some parts of the city have added bike lanes by painting symbols and asking drivers to share the road. However, parts of the city remain quite hazardous to cyclists. Other nearby cities, including Boston, have begun to designate dedicated bike lanes, separated from car traffic by curbing, ensuring safety for both cyclists and drivers. Where possible, current and future road paving projects should assess the feasibility of adding dedicated bike lanes. In addition, Waltham should continue to develop and steward public biking routes, such as the Charles River Greenway, to provide both safe commuting routes for bikers and recreation for all residents of our community.
Green City Certification
In addition to providing rebates to homeowners for investing in sustainable technology, the state-funded Mass Save program also offers a Green Community program. Waltham has qualified for this program, and is using the funding primarily to improve the energy-efficiency of older city-owned buildings. Additionally, the new high school should be built with sustainability in mind, incorporating the most up-to-date technology and energy efficiency standards. To learn more about how Waltham can be a greener city, click here.