Mayor’s 2024 Moody Compromise Approved

By Chris Wangler
March 21, 2024

 

The Waltham Traffic Commission voted Thursday in favor of Mayor Jeannette McCarthy’s plan to keep Moody Street open from Memorial to Labor Day while allowing restaurants to operate outside in parking spaces behind Jersey barriers.

 

Ward 8 city councilor Cathyann Harris [left in image below], who represents the area, said the plan worked for “a post-COVID scenario where outside dining is popular.”

“This proposal by the mayor strikes a balance for small businesses in our downtown and gives much-needed parking for some of the small businesses that are not restaurants,” she said.

 

Ward 9 city councilor Robert Logan concurred [right in image above].

He characterized the plan as a “reasonable thing to do” to appease both restaurant owners and non-restaurant small businesses who are opposed. 

A recent petition signed by dozens of non-restaurant owners, many of them immigrants, said the closures take away vital storefront parking and drive away customers.

By not closing the street, the 2024 plan also appeases Moody abutters, who have complained for years that the street closures cause dangerous driving behaviors in side streets and especially one-ways.

During Thursday’s meeting, both Waltham fire and police chiefs expressed concerns about safety and speeding with diners in close proximity to moving traffic behind concrete barriers. 

Waltham Traffic Engineer Mike Garvin explained that the city’s designation of the area in question as a “safety zone” means the speed limit is the lowest it could go at 20 mph, with corresponding signage in place. 

Police Chief Kevin O’Connell said that police could enforce the lower limit.

So will Moody Street be shut down in the future? The street closure has proven popular with visitors and pedestrians, but its initial justificationto provide a restaurant lifeline during COVIDis now over.

Looking ahead, traffic commissioner Joe Vizard made a request to the city’s Housing Division to provide an update on an outside consultant’s report about the future of the Moody closure.

That report could be released in “the middle of May,” according to Bob Waters, the city’s Director of Housing and Community Development.

File photos