Update on the Redesign of the Stuart and Dartmouth Streets Intersection

By Nina Garfinkle

Ward 4 member Nina Garfinkle is current board member of WalkMassachusetts and a past board chair of the LivableStreets Alliance.

An sizable group of neighborhood residents attended a virtual public meeting with members of the City of Boston’s Streets Cabinet on Wednesday evening, May 2nd. Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Deputy Chief of Streets for Infrastructure & Design Julia Campbell, and Planner Nathaniel Fink did an impressive job with what was a pretty intense meeting. They were well prepared with clear presentations on several important projects taking place in the Back Bay. There was an active conversation with answers coming from the City throughout the meeting. Afterwards there were two breakout sessions. The electeds and/or their staffs in attendance included City Councilor Sharon Durkan, State Representative Jay Livingstone, City Councilor Ed Flynn, City Councilor Henry Santana, State Representative John Moran, and others.

There is a lot of exciting change coming to the area. You can view the presentation here.

Notably, the team shared their initial thoughts on the Stuart and Dartmouth Street intersection. 

I’m glad to report our intersection will be getting some love. Their drawings showed shortened crossing distances, a bike lane, and retimed lights.

Attached are screen grabs of:

– some upcoming repaving and bike and bus lanes.

– the Dartmouth intersection they showed, which is still a work in progress.

– my sketch imposed on the City’s concept, which I believe is similar to what the 1990s pilot tested (stop line pulled way back so people can cross Stuart in one light cycle and avoid the island completely).

Important next questions:

– How do we get people over to the Bluebike station?

– Which side of the street is the Stuart Street bike lane located on from Dartmouth to Clarendon—and can we connect to it?

– What can be done about signage, stop sign, or flashing yellows coming out of I-90?

– Can the city expedite updates on the curb ramp replacement as part of this project since that is included in the legal consent decree? 

As a reminder:

– The safety audit with DOT and WalkMassachusetts a couple of years ago found that the ramps on the islands were completely inaccessible for people with wheelchairs and walkers. Disabled individuals had to walk into the intersection.

– During our walkthrough with Councilor Flynn, we found similar issues. One of our residents wasn’t able to get over those islands with her walker or chair. Others said they often just avoid the trip completely.

Given current budgetary issues, as well as complications with ownership and air rights, the “long term changes” may only happen when there is development in the area. 

We are making progress! I look forward to following up with the next report—and hopefully, the results!

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