The shutdown of the Orange Line gave the city an opportunity to see how some of its alternative temporary changes worked, and they liked them, so they're making some of them permanent. “We’re keeping in place some of the changes that have helped with traffic flow and transit access, so that commuters will see lasting benefit above ground even as the subway comes back online," said Mayor Michelle Wu. “The past 30 days provided an opportunity to create new ways to use our public spaces to ease how residents move within the City,” said Chief of Streets (and Jamaica Plain resident) Jascha Franklin-Hodge. “We look forward to working with the community to take the lessons learned and apply them to future infrastructure projects that will enhance public space and improve mobility for pedestrians, people on bikes, and transit riders.”
The following are local road changes:
Boylston Street one-way for vehicles: Closing part of Boylston Street (between Amory and Lamartine) to traffic throughout the shutdown has improved safety (collisions and near-misses) along the Southwest Corridor. Reopening this stretch as a one-way street from Amory to Lamartine for vehicles will support long-term bike connectivity plans, improve safety for all modes, and reduce conflict at the high crash intersection of Boylston and Lamartine Streets.
The Boston Transportation Department is hosting three upcoming meetings to examine how to make safety and traffic improvements in the Egleston Square area, with a focus on several specific streets. BTD is looking for feedback on changes to particularly affect Atherton, Beethoven, Copley, and Arcadia streets. There will be several public sessions to provide feedback. There will be a popup meeting at Lawson Park (corner of Atherton and Washington streets) on Dec. 9 from 2-4 pm.
The city is making some temporary parking enforcement changes due to the ongoing Coronavirus public health emergency, including 5-minute parking pickup zones in front of restaurants. "During this challenging time, we're doing all we can to keep our residents healthy and safe," said Mayor Marty Walsh via press release. "We understand transportation is a need and concern for residents and medical professionals, and these updated policies will help everyone during this ongoing public health crisis." Temporary pick up zones are being created in front of restaurants that are offering takeout and delivery only. Takeout food pickup zones will restrict parking to five minutes to increase convenience for the quick pickup and delivery of takeout food from restaurants while providing adequate room for social distancing of six feet or more.
As part of a city electric vehicle program, some municipal parking lots, including one on Centre Street, will have four to six parking spaces made into electric car charging stations. Boston has a stated goal of being carbon neutral by 2050, and transportation accounts for nearly a third of Boston's total carbon emissions, according to Boston.gov. Sixty-five percent of carbon emissions in Boston come from personal vehicles. As part of the Transportation Department's Recharge Boston program to support electric vehicles the city is encouraging drivers to use electric or zero emission vehicles. And most electric car owners charge their vehicles at home, but a city survey part of Boston's 2019 Climate Action Plan Update revealed that 45 percent of Bostonians would purchase an electric vehicle if they had access to a charger. But there aren't enough public electric car charging stations, so starting this winter and into the spring, the city will be installing four to six electric car charging stations in six lots.
Businesses are being asked to offer their opinions on what they'd want to see if Centre/South Street were redesigned. The Boston Cyclists Union and JP Centre/South Main Streets are conducting a survey of businesses in the district, and will be sharing the survey's results with the Boston Transportation Department. The city's plans for the Centre/South redesign are on hold, but are expected to restart soon, according to the JPCSMS newsletter. It is part of the already completed redesign of Jackson Square and Hyde Square. The city has allocated more than $700,000 for the design alone, which would go from Hyde Square down Centre and South streets to the Arborway, said Ginger Brown, director of JPCSMS.
The survey asks business owners to rank seven options on what they feel is most important in a redesign: increased pedestrian/sidewalk space; improved bike infrastructure and bike parking; improved bus service; improved streetscape (like benches, lighting, greenery, public art); better signage for the business district; and increased parking for cars.