Easy Ride: Suffolk Officials to Pay for Road to Ease Gridlock

It’s a road long plagued by traffic during rush hour. On Boardman Street, motorists from East Boston trying to get onto Route 1A may have to sit through several light cycles before being able to take a right to go southbound towards the harbor tunnels.

The gridlock at the intersection of Boardman and Route 1A has been particularly bad for residents on Leyden and Ashley Streets—two streets that empty onto Boardman.

“There’s some days I can’t even get off my street,” said Eleanor Guarino, who had lived on Leyden Street for 30 years. “I’ve been writing letters for 30 years because it’s like playing Russian Roulette to get off this street.”

Guarino said it’s not just rush hour, although that is when traffic is at its worst, but all day long.

“The morning and evenings are terrible but some days it would take my husband a half hour to get from Leyden Street to Orient Heights Station to pick me up (a distance of less than one mile),” said Guarino.

“It’s very dangerous and something has to be done,” said Guarino.

Last week the owners of Suffolk Downs, who are applying for one of three casino gaming licenses in the Commonwealth, unveiled their traffic mitigation plan if a casino is approved in Eastie.

In it, the owners said they have addressed many of the concerns residents have about existing traffic and future traffic if a resort-style casino is built at the 77-year old racetrack.

Suffolk Downs has committed $40 million to improve local roads and intersections.

“Our team has been studying major local intersections since 2009 and has held preliminary discussions with community leaders, neighbors, government agencies, and stakeholders to determine how to best make improvements that the local community has deserved for a while,” said Chip Tuttle, Suffolk Downs’ Chief Operating Officer.

The detailed plan, including a video simulation of proposed improvements for Route 1A, is available at the Suffolk Downs web site at http://www.suffolkdowns.com/transportation.

Suffolk Downs has engaged Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc., a Boston based transportation consulting firm, to help determine the best ideas for easing the transportation challenges.

“We’re committed to improving transportation conditions for residents, neighbors and regional commuters who have long experienced local traffic delays,” said David Black, Senior Project Manager at VHB. “And those improvements go far beyond the potential impacts of resort patrons.” The major off-site roadway improvements to address existing regional traffic issues, includes a “flyover” at the Boardman Street intersection and a redesign to address longstanding deficient conditions and improve local access.

“I think it’s a start and want to see more of the plan to make sure it addresses the problems we have had here for 30 years,” said Guarino.

The plan also calls for local roadway improvements to enhance intersection operations and safety, including supporting initiatives led by the City of Revere to undertake reconfigured ramp connections to shift traffic from Rte 60 and Bell Circle and improve connections to Route 1A.

There will be shuttle service to water transportation and Boston tourist attractions and hotels.

The $40 million will also enhance connections to Suffolk Downs MBTA station and local bus routes and coordination with Massport on shared patron and employee access.

The plan also calls for a pedestrian and bicycle access and connections within the site

The key components of the transportation plan include both off-site and local roadway improvements so that safety and traffic issues are addressed for the resort area and the region as a whole. The Suffolk Downs plan will also eliminate the need for resort patrons to use neighborhood roads by enhancing connections to the site through the MBTA, private coaches and shuttles, and an aggressive Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan.

“Traffic problems have been affecting the businesses and residents of East Boston and Revere for too long,” said John Vitagliano, a transportation consultant engaged by Suffolk Downs who has extensive experience in the area.  “The transportation plan made possible only by the resort development at Suffolk Downs will address longstanding regional concerns that would otherwise be unmet.  This is a unique opportunity to utilize the fiscal and economic benefits emerging from a world-class gaming, entertainment and destination resort to provide significant transportation improvements throughout our local communities.”

Last Tuesday, Suffolk Downs announced its plans for a Caesars-branded world-class resort and casino at New England’s only thoroughbred racetrack. The $1 billion development plan for the 163-acre site includes a hotel, restaurants, a casino gaming complex, retail shops, entertainment areas, luxury spa facilities and horse racing. The project includes plans that will generate 4,000 resort jobs.

4 comments for “Easy Ride: Suffolk Officials to Pay for Road to Ease Gridlock

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *