Watertown Square can be challenging to navigate in a vehicle, on foot, on a bicycle, or as a bus rider. Traffic congestion and long wait times at traffic lights are common, due to the number of people trying to access or traverse the area. The list of improvements below is subject to change based on public input, an analysis of neighborhood impacts, and ongoing evaluation and design.

This project will evaluate key recommendations from the Arsenal Street Corridor Study. The Town of Watertown will:

  • Enhance wayfinding signage for all users, including vehicle lane designation signage in advance of traffic signals, as well as pedestrian and bicyclist signage directing users to trails, open spaces, key destinations, and other attractions.
  • Work with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to consider additional or relocated bus stops to provide shorter, more direct connections between the bus routes at Watertown Square and Watertown Yard.
  • Partner with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to improve pedestrian cross-connection on both sides of the Galen Street bridge. Safer, more efficient crossing locations and other features will help improve pedestrian connections.
  • Work with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and residents to modify or relocate Charles River Road from the Watertown Square road network to improve intersection operations. Such a change would also shorten pedestrian crosswalk lengths, allow additional bicycle connections, reduce “cut-through” traffic along Charles River Road, and reclaim parkland along the Charles River.

The proposed project will seek to address the needs of the many users of the Square.


For All Users:

  • Remove the surface asphalt and repave the roads
  • Install wayfinding and directional signs for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists
  • Paint new, high-visibility pavement markings and dashed lines to guide drivers through intersections
  • Improve street lighting for safety and security
  • Reclaim green space, reduce impervious area, and improve landscaping along the Charles River through modification or removal of Charles River Road from the intersection
  • Designate space along Mount Auburn Street for parking, bicycle accommodations or enhanced sidewalks as a result of a reconfigured intersection
  • Enhance safety for and reduce conflicts between all users

For Pedestrians:

  • Add directional signage to area attractions such as trails, the fishing pier, Perkins School, and the Mosesian Center for the Arts
  • Repair sidewalks and curb ramps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Upgrade crosswalks with striping or colored textured surface
  • Modernize pedestrian signal equipment with pushbuttons, audible and tactile messages, and countdown pedestrian signal heads
  • Reduce crosswalk lengths and reduce crossing times in the Square through geometric changes to the intersection

For Bicyclists:

  • Install lane assignment signage and bicycle detection at signalized intersections
  • Paint pavement markings for bicycles
  • Provide better bicycle connections between the Charles River paths and consider impacts of long-term plans for the Watertown Community Path extension

For Vehicles and Public Transit:

  • Provide new lane designation signage
  • Upgrade traffic signal equipment with state-of-the art technology to optimize traffic flow
  • Replace traffic signal mast arms
  • Work with the MBTA to provide bus stop amenities and improve accessibility at existing stops
  • Provide better control of vehicle movements so that vehicles line up in the proper lanes (to eliminate “lane traps” where vehicles need to make last minute, unsafe maneuvers to get in the proper lane)
  • Implement geometric changes to the intersection to improve safety and traffic operations, including modification or removal of Charles River Road from the intersection
  • Enhance connections between the various MBTA bus stops through modification or removal of Charles River Road from the intersection

For the Adjacent Neighborhood:

  • Modify or remove Charles River Road from the intersection to reduce “cut-through” traffic on Charles River Road and restore its intended recreational use
  • Take appropriate measures to mitigate the modifications to Charles River Road without increasing by-pass traffic through the adjacent neighborhood
  • Improve access to adjacent parklands