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One of the longest, widest stretches of brick sidewalks in the North End / Waterfront neighborhood will disappear this Spring to make way for dedicated bike lanes, called cycle tracks.

The area from Eastern Ave (Lewis Wharf) to Commercial Wharf will be replaced with concrete sidewalks, not brick, on the waterside of the street, according to Boston Public Works Project Manager Kay Barned-Smith. On the landside of the street, work is confined to intersections in order to install new signalization and ramps so most of the existing sidewalk will remain.

The city’s position is that “most brick does not provide a safe, accessible path for the visually impaired and disabled community. As the City reconstructs areas, it has as a priority the regrading of areas to meet ADA (Americans Disability Act) standards of slope and accessibility.” During the planning meetings, there was limited discussion regarding the existing sidewalks, although city officials indicated they would be upgrading sidewalks to meet ADA standards.

Bricks are often considered a characteristic of “historic Boston”, so there is some irony that the “Connect Historic Boston” project will replace the red bricks with grey cement on the harbor side sidewalks of Atlantic Avenue and Commercial Street.

A very limited area that will remain brick is around Battery Wharf where it is new wire-cut brick, and it meets grading requirements of ADA.

Connect Historic Boston will restart work this week with two crews operating. One crew will be working in Keany Square to reconfigure that intersection, and one crew will be working on Commercial St./Atlantic Ave continuing with cycle track, roadway and sidewalk construction.

Cycle signals along the track are in the process of being wired and will begin working this Spring, according to the city work schedule. Another issue of concern has been sight lines around driveways. Several condo properties along Commercial Street and Atlantic Avenue have contacted officials about safety concerns around intersections and driveways where it is difficult to turn in and out of the street.

More information on the North End Cycle Track Project can be found at the Connect Historic Boston website: www.cityofboston.gov/publicworks/connecthistoricboston/

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16 COMMENTS

  1. North Enders have been trotting the bricks for years and years. Now the bricks are a nuisance. The city could look into brick pavers which last forever and are smoother under foot. My reaction, as usual, “what a shame”.

  2. That area definitely needed to be redone, the bricks are loose in some places as it is. I wish there was a compromise over just concrete however to make it have a little more style/classic feel.

  3. How about both sides of commercial st, the 190 side and the side in front of the golden goose, bricks are out of the ground leaving holes that people trip on and wheel chairs and scooters get stuck in,
    Robert Church

  4. Bricks look good, but require constant maintenance. If historical significance were a factor, they would rip them all up and go back to dirt. The North End is being known for its broken side walks.

      • You can still walk on the other side of the street, so you can still walk on bricks. And then there’s the Richmond St. millstone challenge. Lrt’s face, the bricks had more to do with who got the contract than asthetics. Pouring concrete is cheaper than hiring brick layers. It will get done faster too.

  5. So there is a brick alternative, yet the city is choosing to go with concrete instead. That’s sad. You’d think even the city can recognize the benefit of historic brick aesthetics in such a heavily trafficked tourist destination, especially considering it’s part of the Harborwalk.

  6. It is a shame to do away with the bricks, not to mention the slowness of traffic on Atlantic with the narrowed lanes. Turning radius seems to be reduced as well with the “jogs” they create at intersections

  7. The bike lane has caused severe dangers while driving down Commercial. They took away one full lane and are now the narrowest streets in all of Boston, all while cars drive 30 mph. This is a disaster waiting to happen. Its frustrating to see who would approve this. Just drive down the street for yourself. Safety is not top concern here and that’s clear. Best of luck to the city when there’s a lawsuit. Project is dumb as bricks.

    • Just an FYI: No one should be driving 30mph in the city of Boston since the new speed limit as of January is 25mph on all streets with the exception of roads with posted speed limits.

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