North Washington Street Intersection with Causeway and Commercial Streets – Google Map

Resident Mike Regan raises some issues to Boston’s City Hall related to resident parking on Medford Street and the traffic situation at the North Washington Street intersection with Causeway and Commercial Streets. He shares them with the community here:

1) Since when did Medford Street in the North End become the West End? About a month ago West End Resident signs went up on the street. Medford St. runs diagonally from N. Washington St near NEBO (North End Boston) restaurant to Causeway Street. In no way is this street in the West End. It is tough enough to find spots in the North End without our streets being gobbled up by other neighborhoods. This needs to be addressed immediately.

2) An old item, but one that keeps getting more serious; the intersection of Causeway St., North Washington St , Commercial St. and the bridge to Charlestown.  This intersection has gotten worse SINCE THEY PUT UP A NO TURN ON RED SIGN for traffic coming from Causeway St. This sign was put up a year ago or so and it has caused the traffic on Causeway to no longer be able to take a right on red at N. Washington, which by the way was never an issue. What the regulation has done is cause major backups and subsequent horn honking on Causeway St. In addition when the light turns green, the traffic has to wait for pedestrian traffic at the same time; again, adding delays to turning and making it very dangerous too for pedestrians.

Once again I have to put out to you what the major cause of the issues at the intersection is; BLOCKING THE BOX! The traffic from Charlestown, especially during traffic hours refuses to maintain space for cross traffic as they rush to get through the light. As you can imagine the cross traffic gets annoyed, horn honking etc. By the way the worst culprits for this are the MBTA buses. (FYI; I have reached out to the MBTA about this and they say they will remind the drivers; yeah, ok!)

There are a few very simple ways to fix this mess; get rid of the No Turn on Red sign for Causeway St traffic, paint a box on the intersection, like they do in NYC, post signs and most importantly have traffic officers at random traffic hours be there to enforce and ticket violators. You should know that frequently a State Police Motorcycle unit sits in front of The Strada Building on Causeway ticketing folks for taking illegal left hand turns onto Causeway from N. Washington. They might as well get people for blocking the box too.

The trouble at this intersection is in dire need of addressing. If changes aren’t made there is going to be a road range incident or major accident, both of which could be prevented by some simple changes. I have brought the intersection issue up before to numerous folks but it doesn’t seem to get addressed. I would hope that we can do something to address it. I live on North Washington and work on Causeway. I see these problems at the intersection all day long. It has to be one of the worst intersections in Boston. If this is a state road or one that the City has limited ability to make changes to please let me know what department I should address it with. It is a quality of living issue that others and I are getting tired of having to deal with.

Thanks for your attention.

Mike Regan

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Actually Mike, unless the BRA changed the zoning maps recently…if you draw a line in the middle of North Wasthington street, the Tecce side is the North End and the NEBO side is the west end. Technically, NEBO should have been named WEBO but that would have been a really weird name. Because of this boundary, the North End community was able to prevent residents of the Strada from getting North End Resident parking permits. The intersection of N.Washington and Causeway is also a pedestrian's worst nightmare.

  2. This piece makes some greats points about the troubles, but might need to be better informed regarding traffic engineering best practices that make for safe and smooth passage in trouble-spot intersections. To claim that no longer having right turns on red protects pedestrians does not make sense to this avid Charlestown runner. What we need is MORE stoppage in flow to prevent “blocking the box.” We need a gap in time versus an instant change from red to green, allowing one section to clear the box before another heads through.

    For the safety of pedestrians, this intersection desperately needs three things: 1) bifurcated crosswalks at all four sides; 2) a traffic moratorium in which all pedestrians can cross to and fro all points for a period of some seconds, say maybe thirty; and, 3) one diagonal crosswalk that slices the box at 45 degrees from whatever two most efficient points. (These elements have worked wonders in troubled spots, such as where The Longwood Medical employees and patients cross the Jamaica Way to and fro the Longwood D-Line MBTA Green Line stop.)

    Mike, I can only imagine how bad it must be to drive through here. Because I see so many “almost accidents” on my daily runs. Let’s find solutions that work for all users, not just cars.

  3. It would be helpful to get that underpass open for bikes behind the tennis courts. It’s a shame that’s been closed for 3+ years. Biking through that intersection with kids plus all the pedestrian traffic is a real hazard.

  4. Thank you so much for bringing some attention to this. I read this article when it was posted this Saturday. Last evening I was venturing from my home on Commercial street to meet a friend at Nebo. I have never been to this restaurant before because I am afraid to cross the street. It was my friend’s choice and I proceeded with caution. As I approached Causeway, I hit the button to wait for the symbol to cross. As I was crossing though, I realized the light turned green to take a right on north Washington, and the motorist refused to stop for those of us in the cross walk. The three of us were forced to stop in the middle of the street in the crosswalk as these motorists had no intention on stopping. When they finished, we preceded to go. One last car that we did not see approaching came flying around the corner though. I tried running out of the way – but not before the guy rolled down his window to scream at me. He laid on his horn and swore at me to get out of the way and for not paying attention to the fact that he had a green light and the right of way. I let him know that us pedestrians actually also had a cross symbol that still had 5 seconds on it. He then went on to swear at me more and sped off. I was left shaking as I went to meet my friend at Nebo, my fears of the intersection confirmed. I will never go to this restaurant again, which was quite good, unless something changes to create safety for all that use this busy intersection.
    I also use this intersection to drive home from work and do sympathize with the drivers coming from the direction of Beacon Hill and TD – the intersection is almost always blocked from cross traffic from Charlestown, which blocks the intersection. I drive this route 5 days a week – and many times I also observe the MBTA buses being some of the biggest culprits. I have tried alternating to come over the Charlestown bridge, but with the construction before the bridge right now it is also not a great option.
    I love the suggestion of having a traffic moratorium in which all pedestrians can cross for a period of a certain amount of seconds. I think that this would be a great solution, and I hope that it is considered.

  5. I would suggest using the Crosswalk at Valenti way to get to NEBO. And never cross unless you have a signal.

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