Getting Around in the City of Somerville


Originally built as a streetcar suburb of Boston, Somerville boasts a framework and layout that is ideal for public transit. With its traditionally-designed neighborhoods and its grid-like street networks, the city continues to be served admirably by the public transit system. In addition, several major arteries pass through Somerville, making giving residents a variety of commuting options throughout Somerville and the Boston area.

Rail Service Serving Somerville.

The City of Somerville is serviced by two rapid transit stations. These include the Red Line station at Davis Square in the city’s northwestern region and the Orange Line station located at Assembly Square within the city’s eastern section. Rail transit also serves periphery points of Somerville. For example, Porter Square station, which is a transfer station serving the Red Line and the commuter rail Fitchburg Line, is located just over the Cambridge border in Porter Square. The Orange Line station at Sullivan Square is also located to the east at the border of Charlestown. While the Orange Line had previously passed through the Assembly Square neighborhood without stopping, the Assembly station was ultimately opened in September 2014 following a $1.5 billion renovation.

Proposals to extend public transit service in the area date back several decades. In addition, Massachusetts agreed to a legally binding resolution on 1990 that was intended to extend the line through Somerville in order to offset the additional traffic and pollution burdens expected from the completion of the Big Day infrastructure. Despite this commitment, the Green Line Extension project continued to lag behind schedule. This resulted in litigation, which finally sparked the promise of completion of the Green Line Extension in December 2014.  Nonetheless, the project only broke ground for Phase 1 in 2012 and now has a target date for services to begin in December 2021.

Somerville Roads

Despite being set up perfectly for public transit, Somerville still relies heavily on roads for transportation. Luckily for residents, some major roads run through the city. Among these is the McGrath Highway, which is a major north-south route that represents the portion of Massachusetts Route 28 that runs through Somerville. Originally constructed in 1928, McGrath Highway was meant to provide a speedier connection for Route 28 between the Charles and Mystic Rivers. The highway was later elevated in the 1950s in an attempt to further facilitate the increased speed, but resulted in cutting off East Somerville and the Inner Belt District from Winter Hill. As a result, this was later replaced by the elevated Northern Expressway, which is part of Interstate 93.

The Northern Expressway runs northwest and southeast through Somerville, effectively separating Ten Hills and Assembly Square from the rest of the city. Commonly referred to as the “upper and lower decks of 93,” the section of the expressway that passes through the Somerville-Charlestown section carries three lanes of northbound traffic on the upper deck while three lanes of southbound traffic are carried on the lower deck.

Biking and Walking

Somerville is also an extremely walkable and bikeable city, with nearly 50 percent of its residents reporting in 2013 that they either walked, biked or used public transit to get to commute. The community also boasts the Somerville Community Path, which is a mixed-use path running along the old Boston and Lowell Railroad

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