BPDA Looking at Transportation and Mitigation Efforts

Anyone who has lived in this community prior to and after the removal of the Sumner Tunnel toll plaza and reconfiguration of the roads leading into the tunnel by MassDOT knows traffic has only gotten worse.

In his State of the City address back in January, Mayor Martin Walsh announced the creation of an East Boston Transportation Action Committee.

The Transportation Action Committee in Eastie will address the unique circumstances in the neighborhood. The committee includes local residents, advocates and stakeholders.

At Monday night’s Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association (JPNA) meeting Boston Planning and Development (BPDA) Nick Schmidt said the PLAN: East Boston initiative is now looking at ways to prioritize and implement transportation and traffic mitigation efforts in the neighborhood. 

“One new thing to report is how we are thinking about is what is going to populate East Boston’s transportation plan,” said Schmidt Monday night. “Working with the Transportation Action Committee we are thinking about recommendations at three different tiers.”

Schmidt said the first tier is looking at local streets and residential areas and enhancing or improving existing programs that align with Boston Transportation and Public Works plans. This, according to Schmidt may include repaving streets, extending sidewalks and curb ramps, painting better lines at crosswalks and two way streets and other nuts and bolts stuff that makes transportation for cars and pedestrians a little easier in the neighborhood. 

“Our focus now is to prioritize and then advance these projects for East Boston,” said Schmidt. 

The second tier would be focusing on Eastie’s major squares like Maverick, Day and Orient Heights Squares and how traffic can be improved while at the same time enhancing traffic flow on major arteries like Bennington and Meridian Street. 

“The third tier would focus on regional connectivity with an eye on bigger projects with a bigger picture on how to improve traffic,” said Schmidt. “We would then start to establish a framework with support and help from our state colleagues.”

In November 2019, Walsh announced a significant milestone reached on the implementation of the City’s Go Boston 2030 transportation plan, with more than half of the 58 projects and policies identified in the plan currently underway. The comprehensive plan was unveiled in 2017, and is designed to provide, by the year 2030, a safe, reliable and equitable transportation system that also supports Boston’s climate goals. In just two years, the Boston Transportation Department and its partners have made significant progress on their planning goals, designed to increase safety, accessibility, equity and affordability in transportation for all residents. Twenty-one projects are already in implementation and another 17 are in design.

“Transportation is crucial to ensuring our residents can get to their homes, their jobs and their schools, and my Administration will continue working hard to create the best transportation options for residents in Boston,” said Walsh. “look forward to working with the East Boston community to make transportation better for all.”

Important projects under consideration in Eastie include improving bus reliability on Meridian Street, designing Bennington Street to be safer and more bike friendly, and reimagining Day Square with additional public space.

In October the BPDA’s PLAN: East Boston team released an interim report for the planning study, available on the BPDA website in English and Spanish (https://bpda.app.box.com/s/hgmqupurzxgjnuokzilvs7kk1894hwe1

The interim report follows two years of community meetings, workshops, neighborhood tours and other events that have engaged the Eastie community in the planning process to update the neighborhood’s outdated Master Plan and zoning. 

The BPDA’s Director of Planning Lauren Shurtleff said the report measures the neighborhood as it exists today as a critical first step to adopting a new Master Plan for Eastie. Shurtleff said the document presents data and trends across six planning topics to establish various “baseline” conditions in the neighborhood. This, said Shurtleff, establishes important reference points for developing future PLAN: East Boston actions, including people, housing, climate and environment, transportation, jobs, and urban form. 

“These measurements establish important reference points for developing future plan actions, and eventually, measuring progress towards our goals,” said Shurtleff. “The goals set out in this document are a reflection of our shared values and present an ambitious vision of the future of East Boston. Having established where we are today and where we would like to be in the future, our remaining task is to plan for how we get there from here. Future community engagement will focus on refining strategies and identifying specific actions needed to move towards our goals. All stages of the planning process rely on the robust participation of the East Boston community to be both meaningful and sustainable and we look forward to continuing the dialogue.”

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