$4M Central Square Upgrade Almost Shovel Ready

A working blueprint of the new Central Square Park and surrounding streets.

The City of Boston Transportation Department worked out some minor details with the community last week regarding the redevelopment of Central Square.

At a community meeting last Tuesday, City of Boston Director of Planning Vineet Gupta said that based on months of community input the City of Boston is comfortable with the design of the proposed $4 million rehab to Central Square.

At last week’s meeting, the sixth in a series of community input meeting regarding the overhaul of the square, the city and community reached a consensus on the square’s design. However, the community and city are still working on some details like what type of street lighting residents would like to see in the square. The community also engaged the city on several ideas for displaying the name of the park in a prominent manner.

One plan that was being floated around a previous community meetings was to make Bennington Street a one way heading out of the square northbound and then becoming a two-way street again at Marion Street. The city said this would force southbound Bennington Street traffic to divert onto London Street via a left turn and then onto Porter Street via a right turn in order to get into the square from the north. “That plan is no longer considered,” said Gupta. “All traffic heading in and out of the square will remain the same with the exception of the two streets that border the square.”

Gupta said that both Meridian and Border Streets would remain two-way streets but the street in front of the East Boston Social Centers would become a one way from Meridian to Border Street. On the opposite end of the park a short section of Saratoga Street would become one-way from Border to Meridian Street.

“This will keep traffic flowing in a circular manner around the square,” said Gupta.

Gupta said the city is also committed to working with residents and business owners to minimize negative impacts during construction. Many business leaders in the community did not want to see a repeat of what had occurred in Maverick Square during the MBTA’s project to redevelop that square. There, the MBTA’s project went well beyond its projected completion date and many businesses that relied on foot and vehicular traffic suffered as a result.

“There will be some disturbances during construction,” said Gupta. “But we will work hard to minimize these impacts and ensure that the quality of life for residents and businesses owners does not suffer.”

The project has already been put out to bid and Gupta said construction of the square could begin as early as fall of 2012.

In August 2008, Menino announced the city would spend nearly $4 million on a new design for Central Square and has already added new angle parking on Sumner Street for local residents.

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