Main Street - Redesigned Introducing The New Third Street Connector

From design to construction, the Main Street Reconstruction Project has been many years in the making. The vision was for a Main Street streetscape unique to Kendall Square, and was developed through the City’s collaboration with residents and businesses who helped with planning and participated in meetings about the future of this area. Today, it can now be enjoyed by all who live, work, and visit Kendall Square.

Design & Infrastructure Improvements

The improvements to Main Street are a result of infrastructure recommendations outlined for Kendall Square during the K2C2 planning process. These recently completed improvements include:

  • Enhanced areas for people who walk, bike, take transit, or drive;
  • A new bike and vehicular connection from Third Street to Main Street (now called the “Third Street Connector”);
  • Reconstructed sidewalks;
  • Full bike lanes;
  • A contra-flow bike facility, with bike signal, providing access to Third Street from Main Street;
  • An improved mid-block crossing between the subway entrances through raised crosswalks and curb extensions;
  • Expanded space for bus transit and bikers;
  • Increased total number of street trees by 20
  • New pedestrian amenities — street lighting, seating, plantings, bus shelters;
  • A new larger Hubway station; and
  • Double the number of bike racks in a combination of City standard racks and also artist-designed racks fabricated in stainless steel.
The new Main Street provides a high quality experience for pedestrians and cyclists with reconstructed sidewalks and roadway, new amenities, and enhanced transit accommodations.

The new connection from Third Street to Main Street is a particularly significant part of this project. It facilitates increased transit, bike, and vehicular connections, and improves urban design by connecting Main Street to the broader Kendall Square area. Enhanced pedestrian amenities facilitate a more direct southbound connection to buses. Also, the new Third Street Connector allows for future bus connectivity between Lechmere Station and the Kendall/MIT Station, and flexibility for bus expansion in the area.

The 20 feet wide sidewalks in the area now have a 10 feet “path of travel” and a 10 feet “furniture zone.” New furniture throughout the corridor encourages collaboration and comfort through newly created “mini rooms” along the street. Also, contemporary black powder coated benches complement pre-cast star shaped concrete benches. These amenities punctuate the large crossing at the Marriot Plaza, create visual interest, and offer atypical types of seating.

New seating and bike accommodations have been installed along the redesigned Main Street corridor.

Challenges of Improving Infrastructure in Dense Urban Areas

When designing above-ground public space and roadway infrastructure, below- ground infrastructure can play a defining role. For example, sidewalk and public space design along Main Street is influenced by the Red Line tunnel. There is also a proliferation of existing water, sewer, telecom, electrical, and plumbing lines below Point Park that any redesign would need to consider.

Underground infrastructure can greatly influence construction projects in the Cambridge. On Main Street, for example, the below-grade infrastructure - including gas and water pipes, conduit "duct banks", vaults, and the Red Line tunnel - played a significant role in design decisions impacting the look and feel of the above ground amenities.

Contra-flow bike Lane

Contra-flow bike lanes allow people who bike to ride in the opposite direction of motor vehicle traffic. They convert a one-way street into a two-way street: one direction for motor vehicles and bikes to travel together, and the other for bikes only to travel in an opposite flow. These lanes provide more direct and efficient connections for bikers.

The width of the cycle track is 8 feet except for a brief narrowing point, where it is 4 feet (the minimum standard for a one-way cycle track).

Finally, there will be a new bike signal installed on Main Street to help bikers headed north on Third Street. The newly constructed contra-flow bike lane at Point Park is designed to make biking more comfortable in the area.

Point Park and the Galaxy Fountain

When the Main Street project was designed, the plans for Point Park, where the Galaxy Steam Fountain is, included razing the Park and implementing a new concept. Since then, the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA), who owns the artwork, decided to keep the artwork and create enhancements to make the park a more inviting place.

The Galaxy Fountain, located in Point Park between Main Street and Broadway.

The new Main Street streetscape improvements help make this area even more enjoyable for all who live, work, and visit Kendall Square.To learn more about this project you can check out the City of Cambridge Department of Public Works Website.

A Publication of the City of Cambridge

City Manager's Office

795 Massachusetts Avenue

Cambridge, MA 02139


Created By
Lee Gianetti

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