A bit overkill
Last week I was in attendance at the annual Golden Age Club Christmas Party which was packed with all those ladies in red as usual. Santa Claus was there as always and everybody loves him so much, he is everyone’s Buddy ( I hope you got that).
There were so many females there, you could count all the guys on two hands and that included Santa and Alan LaBella too. While sitting down for the dinner after all the elected folks left the hall, many were talking about this new idea by the city to slow down traffic by lowering the speed limit down to 25 mph. Most thought the idea wasn’t all it seemed to be.
While everyone usually gripes about speeders on our neighborhood roads, the idea of lowering the legal speed down to 25 mph from the current 30 miles an hour seems a bit overkill, pardon the pun.
The issue of safety for our young and old from vehicles traveling too fast is a serious one but a 25 mph limit might actually endanger everyone. Road rage incidents might rise. Gridlock would become an everyday event on Bennington, Chelsea, Saratoga, Bremen etc streets.
The real issues facing East Boston residents are speeders racing up and down streets like Saratoga, Princeton and Lexington Streets, sometimes travelling upwards of 40-45 miles per hour. Those are the drivers that need to be addressed. Drivers who double park on streets and blocking intersections, get these drivers too.
Bicyclists also travel; at unsafe speeds through East Boston streets and barely a few of them stop for red lights. I can see motorists poking along doing 25 while someone on a bike zooms by them doing 35 or more. Happens all the time.
This new traffic ordinance is nothing more than a piece of feel-good legislation and is mostly unenforceable. There are not enough police officers I this city to focus ion drivers going over 25 miles an hour. It is to me a gimmick to make folks feel like City Hall is listening to them and responding to their needs.
Going between 30 and 35 miles per hour is not normally an unsafe speed. Drivers always need to address weather conditions. Why change the speed limit/? Just to write another press release?
With all the issues facing Boston residents, homeowners and taxpayers, lower posted speed limits is not highly among them.
East Boston /Eagle Hill
The Mayor did right by East Boston
Last March, state transportation officials held a public meeting in East Boston, telling residents of plans to run Route 1A by Central Square at highway speeds in a Toll Plaza Redesign project they said was 75% complete.
Pedestrian safety in Central Square is already atrocious. Increasing the speed of traffic into the toll plaza would make things dramatically worse. And it would create a high speed collision risk as local traffic attempted to enter the mouth of the tunnel.
Not only would speeds be increased by the state’s original plans, but local access from either side of the tunnel would have been regulated by stop lights and merged into the right lane of traffic in front of the brick Toll Collector’s building. This would cut local access to the tunnel in half during congested periods such as the morning commute, forcing local motorists to vie with 1A traffic in what would surely end up a one-for-one flow.
The plan which Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) officials presented last March also called for removal of the Havre Street right turn off the highway. As unorthodox as it is, this turn option is important, keeping Eagle Hill-bound traffic from further congesting the Central Square, Porter Street, Bennington Street and Meridian Street business areas and providing a rare, (and perhaps accidental) convenience to local residents.
Lastly, the state’s Redesign offered no public input on the re-use of the plaza area after removal of the toll booth structure. This structure and the highway operations around it had been the justification for the destruction of the core of East Boston’s downtown business district; now that the toll plaza is no longer needed, what chance will residents have to benefit from that un-used space? The plan shown by state officials showed only landscaped grassy berms -little bumps which are the equivalent of ‘keep off’ signs.
There was immediate public concern. Residents organized, led by Michael Passariello and the NOAH Youth who posted information on Facebook on East Boston Environmental and broadly across the community. The Youth set up meetings with MassDOT and gave presentations at the Gove Street Citizens Association, the Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association and other neighborhood groups and the community responded by demanding further public meetings, a slowing of the process and consideration of their concerns.
Claudia Correa, the Mayor’s Liaison at the Office of Neighborhood Services got involved right away. She engaged Boston Transportation Commissioner Gina Fiandaca, who with Mayor Walsh’s support, told the state to go back to the drawing board. When the state, pushed by Massport, came back with basically the same insulting proposal the city pushed back even harder, demanding that the state’s planners go back to the drawing board and giving them counter-proposals from the Boston Transportation Department’s own planning experts.
In the end, the state replaced the project management team on the Toll Plaza Redesign Project and came back with dramatically improved suggestions including many of the community-supported ideas. The new plans are improved greatly and should create far better results, slowing traffic speeds across the plaza area, dedicating the right lane as a local traffic entrance and preserving and improving the Havre Street right turn.
While community activists and residents from Jeffries Point, the Gove Street Neighborhood, Maverick area and Eagle Hill are still pushing hard in an ongoing process to improve pedestrian access through the Porter Street Plaza area and reconnect as much of the neighborhood to the business areas as possible, it seems that the system is finally working as it should.
Mayor Walsh stepped up for East Boston on this project. He stood up for our quality of life and stood in the way of a dangerous and insensitive transportation proposal. The Mayor’s display of tenacity, commitment and loyalty to the residents of this neighborhood is deeply appreciated.
Thank you Mayor Walsh.