Kensington Connector Revitalization

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The Kensington Connector Revitalization Project will be the first step in a long-anticipated set of improvements to the 148-foot pedestrian walkway, located under Interstate 93 in Somerville, that connects the neighborhoods of East Somerville (near the Stop and Shop supermarket) and Winter Hill to Assembly Square.

Goals for this project include:

  • Beautifying a dingy, dark space to turn it into a point of pride and interest for users and community members.
  • Improving the safety and visibility of users by making the 32,800 vehicles that pass by daily on Mystic Avenue aware that they are in a pedestrian/bike-friendly area, in alignment

The Kensington Connector Revitalization Project will be the first step in a long-anticipated set of improvements to the 148-foot pedestrian walkway, located under Interstate 93 in Somerville, that connects the neighborhoods of East Somerville (near the Stop and Shop supermarket) and Winter Hill to Assembly Square.

Goals for this project include:

  • Beautifying a dingy, dark space to turn it into a point of pride and interest for users and community members.
  • Improving the safety and visibility of users by making the 32,800 vehicles that pass by daily on Mystic Avenue aware that they are in a pedestrian/bike-friendly area, in alignment with the City’s VisionZero goals to reduce traffic-related fatalities.
  • Turning the space into a true “connector” by increasing usage so residents and visitors utilize amenities located “on the other side” more frequently, and by creating a sense of unity for individuals of differing multicultural and socioeconomic backgrounds from adjacent neighborhoods.
  • Helping the most densely-packed community in New England reclaim paved and underutilized areas as public open spaces.

The Kensington Connector, an asphalt underpass below the main artery of Interstate 93, also known as Boston’s Northern Expressway, and abutted by two I-93 exit ramps, sits at the intersection of the Assembly Square, East Somerville, and Winter Hill neighborhoods, which have recently undergone or will be undergoing revitalization and infrastructure improvements as a result of millions of dollars invested by the City of Somerville and Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Both East Somerville and Winter Hill are environmental justice neighborhoods that have been cut off from new amenities at Assembly, including a new MBTA light rail station, retail stores and restaurants, and a movie theater, and access to the Mystic River waterfront parks, by the elevated I-93 highway infrastructure.

Beautifying the Connector will make it easier and more appealing to travel via foot or bicycle from one side to the other, in an area highly congested due to regional and local vehicular traffic. Case in point: On an average day, 32,800 vehicles pass the Connector on Mystic Avenue and another 180,000 drive over it on I-93. Another point: In 2019, there were 4 pedestrian and 3 cyclist crashes involving motor vehicles, including one fatality, in the 1/4-mile radius of the Connector. In addition, there are two bus stops located between the Connector’s main path and the path under the exit ramp, but crossing the street is dangerous and challenging for pedestrians, who have a short window of time to do so.

The City hears the outcries for this space to be transformed to match improvements and investments in the redeveloped Assembly Square shopping area; the revamped East Somerville business district, and the revitalization coming to Winter Hill, currently in design. Please see the information on this SomerVoice page and contribute to the virtual community process.