By Nina Garfinkle
We had a good zoom meeting with BTD on Sept 20th. In addition to many of you, in attendance were: Councilor Flynn, William Moose-BTD, Julia Campbell-DPW, Representative Moran and Anthony Baez from Sharon Durban’s office. Thank you all for your time, stories and questions — all helped to highlight the importance of this intersection, and how it affects so many, daily.
There is unanimous agreement by all parties that that intersection is a relic of the past that needs to be fixed, and there are short-term and long-term solutions.
SHORT TERM (quick fix, temporary solutions)
BTD will schedule a public zoom in 6-8 weeks. During that time they will confirm road jurisdictions, any rights other agencies may have, etc. and present their findings. This will include potential ideas like narrowing lanes, adding bollards or planters, updating the light timing to adhere to City of Boston’s new light timing policy, restricting areas, etc. A resource cities reference, which you can look at for ideas as well, is the NACTO guideline; it is filled with some wonderful ideas of how to improve safety and simplify intersections in dense urban areas. Alerting/slowing drivers coming out of the I-90 exit into this dense/urban area was also discussed and will be looked into. The construction season winds down in 8 weeks so certain things would have to wait until the spring/summer to be done.
LONG TERM (capital project)
The intersection overall that Simon Properties was going to include before it their project was cancelled will cost millions of dollars, capital project budgeting, engineering drawings, etc. At the least, it will require moving curbs, electric, looking into tunnels and rights of what is below the surface and how the work can be staged, etc. That along with a capital budget and a time frame will all need to be determined. I’m hoping we get some $ into the budget to start looking it to it and planning for the future, long-term capital project. In my opinion, It doesn’t seem like development can be counted on any longer. We need to get creative in partnerships to deal with civic needs and safety in order to move necessary fixes forward.
PAST PILOT (a possible idea)
I’ve spoken to some who remember the pilot done back in the 90s. (Yes, this area has been considered in need of “calming” since then!). The way it was done was to pull the crossing back so you could cross straight across the street (Neiman’s Plaza to Barry’s) in one light cycle. I’m imagining that the resulting extra roadway that results could be painted, and the existing “ramps” could still be used as access that area, by those that need them (this alone would allow some who cannot cross currently to cross since the island are unnavigable). This would still allow people making a right or left turn to use the existing slip lanes (narrowed or not), at the same time that drivers going straight would go. Seems easy, but we will see.
I’m looking forward to learning more at our next zoom meeting in 6-8 weeks and brainstorming ideas. Hopefully it will yield some ideas, next steps, short-term fixes, and scheduling.
Photo: Nina Garfinkle