Traffic, Transportation & Infrastructure

Our System Is Failing
Current traffic conditions in the City of Waltham are unacceptable. Traveling in, out and across our city is a traffic nightmare at any given point on any given day. Running out to the local market can become a multi-hour excursion due to inadequate traffic light synchronization. Kids no longer safely play along neighborhood streets or walk themselves to their neighborhood schools because of excessive and reckless cut-through traffic. Residents feel trapped in their homes because pedestrians and vehicles cannot traverse our city streets safely and with ease and the local transit infrastructure is inadequate. Moreover, too many residents are forced to pay for repairs to their vehicles from damages due to the potholes and the poor condition of many Waltham roads. This is not acceptable.

We can point fingers at federal and state government for not giving enough transportation money, or developers for building, or our neighboring communities for not coming up with a regional solution, or even the city council for everything. But the responsibility to ensure that local infrastructure is working falls squarely on the Mayor of Waltham. Maintaining our local infrastructure is the fundamental role of city government and the current traffic conditions in Waltham are a direct result of inadequate leadership. Our residents deserve better.

How We Got Here
The Mayor’s office has failed to plan and support two critical aspects of our city’s transportation needs: long-term transportation planning and preventative care for city infrastructure.

No long-term transportation planning. We have three direct access points to Route 128, which make Waltham a highly desirable location for residents and businesses. However, without a Master Traffic Plan at the local level, these would-be benefits are causing significant traffic constraints on our city. This is certainly not a new problem to Waltham. In fact, 12 years ago, then-candidate McCarthy promised the residents of the city she would prioritize the development and implementation of a Master Traffic Plan. This plan has never been developed or presented to our city.

The current administration has actually taken steps that have worsened our city’s traffic congestion. The position of Traffic Engineer for the city went vacant and unfunded by the mayor for over two years. Over this period, traffic continued to build, while road and bridge conditions worsened. All of this occurred without any oversight or support from the one city position created to alleviate pressure on the city’s transit infrastructure. Additionally, under the leadership of the current administration, the City Engineering Department and Consolidated Public Works Department were split. With these two departments split, the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing instead of working together to implement transportation planning. Often times, each department performs the same function such as overseeing street repaving. In one case, half a street was repaired while the remainder remains in terrible condition. Collaboration and communication between city departments is critical to identify and fix our city’s infrastructure issues.

No planning or support for preventive care. Despite millions of dollars in annual road, bridge and sidewalk aid from the state, the city has severely underfunded its capital budget for road and traffic-related improvements. So much so that this year the present incumbent has asked for nearly $10 million dollars in improvements compared to the usual $3 million to $4 million in state and city funding.

Our city’s lack of attention to our aging and neglected infrastructure has never been highlighted more clearly than with the closing of the Beaver Street Bridge. The closure caused tremendous inconvenience and unnecessary headaches for residents, and it is frustrating to know that it could have been avoided. The city knew about the need for culvert repairs for years but did nothing about it until the conditions became unsafe and the state needed to step in and mandate immediate closure. On numerous occasions, I’ve heard City Hall blame the state for this closure, but the City bears ultimate responsibility for ensuring that its roads and bridges are kept in a state of good repair. In an ideal world, culverts are repaired without residents noticing because the work does not require state interventions or bridge closures, but rather the repairs are conducted on a routine maintenance schedule with little to no inconvenience to residents. The case of the Beaver Street Bridge is the very antithesis of this ideal scenario.

The neglect that Waltham residents see on our streets and bridges happens below the city streets as well. Our public sewer system is in such a state of disrepair that it releases raw sewage onto many streets during heavy rain events and backs up into some residential basements. Just like our immense and disabling traffic conditions, the continuous release of raw sewage into our streets and homes is unacceptable. Despite multiple attempts by the state to intervene and a MassDEP consent order, the city has not been aggressive enough to address this problem in a meaningful way.


The mismanagement of our public sewers and the consistent need for the state to step in and take over management of our infrastructure is a source of embarrassment to me as a Waltham resident. Our residents deserve better. We cannot thrive as a community if we are constantly one step away from a major bridge shut down or a water main break.


My Traffic, Transportation And Infrastructure Management Strategy
Under my leadership, Waltham will think seriously about transportation and infrastructure impacts as part of local land use and sustainability efforts. We will establish and maintain a long-term capital plan that will schedule capital improvements and upgrades. We will collaborate with local businesses (large and small) to identify ways to ease congestion and improve public transportation options. We will engage with groups like the 128 Business Council and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council to reduce traffic congestion, support smart growth and improve regional sustainability. The city’s transportation strategy will be aggressive and bold but not unrealistic, and we will collaborate with regional, state and federal partners to make significant improvements to our transportation system. Waltham cannot tackle these challenges alone but my administration will work with other stakeholders to ensure that we are leveraging every available partnership and funding opportunity possible.

Our city’s chronic mismanagement of our roadways can only be corrected through a long-term plan with participation from residents, businesses, state and local government leaders, and department heads. In my administration, we will work together to implement an immediate and comprehensive review of our city’s infrastructure and to develop a long-range capital plan that will strategically and effectively improve our transportation and infrastructure deficiencies. The review will include the immediate implementation of a traffic survey for residents to report excessive and inconvenient traffic patterns and undertake a citywide traffic study with particular attention to the reported trouble spots. From this review process, I expect to see solutions which include increased traffic enforcement to eliminate cut through traffic speeding through our neighborhoods as well as the modernization of the city’s traffic signalization system to improve traffic flows.

We will also conduct a comprehensive sidewalk study, similar to the study recently completed by the City of Boston. By walking Waltham’s neighborhoods and enabling easy resident reporting, we will create an inventory of sidewalk repairs that can begin immediately. These repairs will be prioritized by safe routes to schools, social service delivery areas including areas around senior living facilities and the senior center, and public transportation access points. If we are going to encourage our residents to be more active and to walk and bike rather than rely on cars, we must provide adequate sidewalks for safe pedestrian travel.

I will ensure that important roles like Traffic Engineer and road maintenance crews are filled with qualified individuals who can get the job done. I will execute more effective and efficient management of public resources than has been experienced in Waltham in recent years, and I will improve transparency around capital budgeting and schedules. I will partner with the City Council and other local stakeholders to access the maximum amount of external funds available to support the city’s objectives, and I will utilize best practices in public management and budgeting to avoid expensive patchwork solutions and costly project delays.

As Mayor, it will be my responsibility to ensure that our public infrastructure systems are in a state of good repair and I will take that responsibility seriously. To that end, I will strengthen the Planning Department and Traffic Engineering Department. I will move to restore the Engineering and Consolidated Public Works Departments together and will provide them with the authority to work collectively to support Waltham’s transportation and infrastructure needs. Our team will lay out a plan to address the most immediate, critical infrastructure projects while also planning for long-range, large-scale improvements that will significantly improve congestion and mobility in the city. It will be critical to involve our neighbors, businesses and civic organizations to ensure that our transportation infrastructure is built and repaired with all of Waltham in mind.

What This Means To You

Under my watch, Waltham will be an easier place to get around, making it an even better place to live, work and play than it is today. To do this, I will aim to reduce traffic congestion, improve walkability on our city streets, make playing in the neighborhood and walking to school safer for children, and lessen the stress of your daily commute. I will give residents new tools, such as a city app and a 24-hour constituent services hotline to report traffic trouble areas, broken sidewalks, and other infrastructure trouble spots. I want residents to be actively engaged in shaping the future of Waltham’s transportation and infrastructure future.

I will work to establish a capital budgeting process that is comprehensive, consistent, inclusive and transparent about city expenditures and capital priorities. Road, infrastructure and traffic light maintenance will occur regularly and not excessively during election years only.