It’s a Mess For Pedestrians at South and New Washington

Pedestrians cross New Washington at South, where there is no crosswalk, on Wednesday, May 13, 2015.

Chris Helms

Pedestrians cross New Washington at South, where there is no crosswalk, on Wednesday, May 13, 2015.

UPDATE: That cut-through will be fenced off as the T moves the 39 Bus. We’ve added more details below.

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It’s a commonplace of road design: Pedestrians will make their own paths, no matter what authorities envision. That’s what’s happening in the current phase of the Casey Arborway project at the busy intersection where South meets New Washington.

Department of Transportation engineers want pedestrians coming from South Street or the Southwest Corridor Park on their way to Forest Hills Station to juke around the intersection instead of crossing directly at New Washington. Here’s their plan:

Recommended pedestrian patterns in current phase of Casey Arborway work

Massachusetts Department of Transportation

Recommended pedestrian patterns in current phase of Casey Arborway work

But the way walkers actually use the intersection is to hustle across New Washington where there’s no sidewalk.

Red arrow shows actual pedestrian usage; purple is MassDOT's plan.

Massachusetts Department of Transporation; Red arrow added by Chris Helms

Red arrow shows actual pedestrian usage; purple is MassDOT’s plan.

A temporary crossing light has been set up for pedestrians to get across South Street.

This button changes the light for pedestrians to get across South Street at New Washington.

Chris Helms

This button changes the light for pedestrians to get across South Street at New Washington.

This intersection was the subject of several concerned comments at the most recent community meeting on the project. Bike riders coming up the Southwest Corridor Park face much the same problem as pedestrians here. The Casey Overpass is being torn down in favor of a network of surface roads.

A Department of Transportation spokesperson emailed the following response to the pedestrian situation at South and New Washington:

MassDOT is in the process of implementing a new entrance for the Route 39 bus into the Forest Hills Station loop.  The current entrance at the corner of South and New Washington streets acted as a de facto walkway for pedestrians. The new entrance will be half way down the “New Washington St” portion of the temporary East-West roadway.  The old entrance will be fenced off, along with the remainder of the sidewalk down to where South and Washington streets intersect. This removes the immediate cut-through, and will better direct pedestrians to the appropriate crossing points.

And here’s what the intersection should look like once construction is done in fall 2016. The green crossings are for bikes:

Detail of final condition at South Street and Arborway when Casey Arborway is finished.

Department of Transportation

Detail of final condition at South Street and Arborway when Casey Arborway is finished.

See all our Casey Overpass/Casey Arborway coverage here.

  • Hugo_JP

    If this pedestrian traffic pattern was part of the final design then I’d say this was a pretty big fail, but I’m assuming this suggested traffic pattern is temporary and makes the demolition project either more efficient or cost-effective.
    At the end of the day, pedestrians jay-walk all over the city, so this should not be taken as some sign of impending Overpassmageddon.

    • JamaicaPlainNews

      Great question. I’ve put it to MassDOT and will update this item if I get an answer.

    • hydesquare

      Did I miss something? Who was making it into a so-called overpassmageddon?

      • Hugo_JP

        Councilor Yancey and a small group of overpass proponents seem to think that 4 years of public meetings were not enough and the demolition needs to be stopped.

        • Ed Barrett

          Fine. Where was Yancey years ago while saner minds were proposing an attractive new bridge? He’s a little late to the dance.

          • hydesquare

            i was replying to hugo’s comment; i haven’t even read yours.

        • hydesquare

          I don’t think over-exaggeration is helpful and only clouds the real issue. I’m guessing that’s the point?