Central Square Meeting Focuses on Traffic and Parking Concerns

By John Lynds

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City of Boston planners discuss the redevelopment of Central Square last week at the East Boston Social Centers.

The fourth in a series of community input meetings regarding the redevelopment of Central Square took place last week at the East Boston Social Centers.

While previous meetings were brainstorming session of sorts with at least 50 people giving their impressions of what is good and bad about the square as it exists today.

Last Wednesday’s meeting focused primarily on traffic and parking patterns in the square and how the city plans to address parking around the square and control traffic flow in and out of the square.

One plan 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. 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.

Another proposal by the city was to make some of the parking around the new square reverse angle parking which would cut down the incidents of fender benders around the square and add more spaces in some spots.

Both proposals seemed to cause little stir among the crowd as the planning process moves forward.

At the last meeting in August, the city offered up two options for the overall rehab of the square.

Option one, according City of Boston Engineer Vineet Guipta calls for more green space but less parking in the square.

Option two however, calls for less green space and more parking.

At that meeting the crowd seemed split on the two options with some in favor or more green space and others liking the idea of additional parking.

While future meetings will get residents closer to choosing an option said Guipta, each option put before the neighborhood will include tree allees similar to Copley Square, a restored lawn and park space, retaining wall to add levels to the park and tree groves.

“This is going to be your square,” said Guipta. “We are at the beginning stages but from here on out we want as much community support as possible.”

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.

“I am proud we still are able to keep the $3.85 million commitment for the design and reconstruction of Central Square,” said Menino.  “I want to ensure that Central Square is a healthier and safer place for people to live, work, walk, shop and do business.  We want to improve traffic, reduce congestion and enhance the pedestrian environment.  I urge everyone to get involved with the community process for this important project.”

The first in a series of meetings was held in September 2008 to begin the redesign of the Square.

The new design will include a reorganization of parking to improve access for businesses, new traffic signals at key intersections, shorter pedestrian crossings, and additional trees and landscaping.  The design will be finalized after a yearlong community process.

Construction is anticipated to begin in the Spring of 2010 and will be managed by the Boston Transportation Department.

“Twenty years ago we were able to really make a difference in Day Square and I think we have an opportunity to do it again in Central Square,” said LaMattina. “Central Square will soon become a revitalized jewel where residents can come and relax, shop and enjoy East Boston’s business district.”

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