City Aims to Buy And Convert Store Lot for Parking

Published by Chris Wangler- March 17, 2021.

Main Street at rush hour. With COVID on the wane, is it now back to agonizing gridlock?
To address one bottleneck, the city of Waltham plans to buy a challenged retail property on Main Street, build a parking lot there and open up a lane of traffic.
After a supportive discussion at the city’s traffic commission, the city council has already voted to pay a deposit on the purchase of 481 Main Street.
The long lot includes a store building that has been occupied by a succession of failed businesses, with almost no parking nearby. (It does NOT include Metro West Motors at 477 Main Street.)
Five on-street spaces in front of 463–73 Main would be removed as part of the project and moved into the new lot.
Neighboring stores (463–73 Main) share those parking issues, having to share only five spaces.
The city project, advocated by Waltham traffic engineer Mike Garvin, would demolish the building on the lot and move the five spaces into a new city parking lot with 22 spaces.
The project would make more parking for the stores. And with the five street spaces removed, westbound Main Street traffic could move more freely toward a right turn at Lyman Street.
Westbound traffic backs up at rush hour at Main and Newton, in part because there is only one lane heading toward Lyman. The new lot would allow two lanes to move through, easing gridlock.
Currently there is no proposed start or end date for the project.
During an initial discussion at the city’s traffic commission, elected officials showed strong support, seeing it as a win-win.
The project requires the city to buy the property from private owners.
Recently a city council committee approved a $36,000 deposit representing five percent of the purchase price.
There’s a long way to go. Because of a tax lien on the property, the acquisition would not be straightforward, according to mayor Jeannette McCarthy.
The total cost of the project would include the land acquisition plus the demolition and parking lot construction.
Parking in the area has been an issue for years.
Sixty spaces were added to senior center parking when a new lot was finished in mid 2018, but seniors insisted that all of the spaces be used only for seniors, not for retail across the street.