Real Estate Transportation

Developers to Fund $400K Toward North Station Transportation Study

NEWRA Map of Development Projects in the West End and Bulfinch Triangle

Developers with planned or in-progress projects around North Station will contribute $400,000 to study traffic and transportation issues in the area. Eight companies will contribute $50,000 each to hire a consultant that will analyze the combined impact of their new developments over the next 15 years. Over 8 million square feet of residential and office projects (including 2,700 residential units and 700 hotel rooms) are currently planned or already in progress. The North Station Transportation Action Plan will focus on the West End, Bulfinch Triangle and Government Center. More information can be found in the press release below.

BRA and Boston Transportation Department to create North Station Area Transportation Action Plan

With $400,000 in private funding, agencies will conduct assessment and create action plan to improve area’s transportation network

The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and Boston Transportation Department (BTD) announced today that they will begin working on a transportation action plan for the area around North Station before the end of the year. The plan, which will also cover the West End, Bullfinch Triangle, and Government Center, will provide a comprehensive analysis of the existing transportation network as well as potential near- and long-term improvements across various types of transit. The undertaking comes at a time when several large development projects are underway or soon to begin in this portion of downtown.

Eight private partners, including Massachusetts General Hospital, Delaware North (owners of the TD Garden), Equity Residential, AvalonBay Communities, Related Beal, Boston Properties, HYM Investment Group, and Trinity Financial will contribute $50,000 each, for a total of $400,000, to support the city’s efforts. By virtue of their presence or development interests in the area, the funders all have a major stake in ensuring a strong transportation network around North Station, Government Center, and the West End.

“Downtown Boston is experiencing unprecedented growth, and we must do everything in our power to make sure growth doesn’t come at the expense of gridlock,” said BRA Director Brian Golden. “This transportation plan will take stock of all development, from buildings to infrastructure, and provide us with valuable insight into where we should invest in improvements. We’re grateful to have the support and partnership of our funders to be able to execute this work.”

Boston Transportation Department Commissioner Gina N. Fiandaca said, “BTD is thrilled to have this opportunity to partner with the community in this process. We expect it to result in both immediate and long term action items that will significantly improve mobility in the North Station area of the city and advance a comprehensive transportation plan for this burgeoning neighborhood.”

The BRA and BTD expect to release a request for proposals in January to hire a transportation consultant to assist with the plan. The agencies are currently drafting a scope of work for the project.

The North Station Transportation Action Plan, which is expected to take about nine months to complete, will offer a holistic look at how people walk, use public transportation, bike, and drive around the area. Key tasks will include:

  • Conduct an existing conditions analysis and a future needs assessment that addresses the combined impacts of new development over the next 15 years;
  • Propose a slate of early action transportation projects to achieve immediate improvements;
  • Propose a long-term strategic investment plan of new transportation projects and programs; and
  • Measure the effectiveness of the improvements relative to the goals of the plan.

Through the action plan, the BRA and BTD hope to propose achievable improvements and potential funding sources with a realistic timeline for implementation.

The Transportation Action Plan will be driven by public participation and input from a broad group of stakeholders with clear-cut decision points. Conventional public meetings will be supplemented by site walks, online participation, and open houses.

Nearly half of residents in the North Station area report that they walk to work, and 22 percent use public transportation to commute to their jobs, according to data from the 2013 American Community Survey. However, 22 percent drive alone, which can be a factor in creating congestion. The action plan will offer solutions for easing traffic concerns and promoting better circulation.

An estimated 7.7 million square feet of new development is expected in this part of Boston in the coming years. Developments under construction near North Station include the Avalon North StationOne Canal, and Lovejoy Wharf residential projects. Boston Properties’ multi-phase Boston Garden project and Equity Residential’s Garden Garage redevelopment are approved and under review, respectively. HYM Investment’s redevelopment of the hulking Government Center Garage and the Haymarket Hotel project, which is proposed by Normandy Real Estate and Harbinger Development, represent other large projects that will have an impact on transportation conditions.

In addition to the development that’s underway, there are many significant infrastructure projects planned or in discussion. Connect Historic Boston, a partnership between the City of Boston and the National Park Service, plans to upgrade Causeway Street with better bicycle and pedestrian accommodations. Additionally, two important bridges that serve the study area, the Longfellow and the North Washington Street Bridge, will be overhauled in the next five years, and the state is contemplating realigning a portion of Storrow Drive near Mass General Hospital.

The North Station Transportation Action Plan will look at the combined impact of these and future projects, and the plan’s action items will serve as a framework for prioritizing public and private investments.

4 Replies to “Developers to Fund $400K Toward North Station Transportation Study

  1. I support this effort, if done honestly, comprehensively and professionally. It is long overdue, and follows other commitments the BRA made to the North End, West End and Beacon Hill communities to study the transportation impacts of the 10 major North Station/Government Center development projects; commitments the BRA never fulfilled. These 10 projects are intended to bring up to 10,000 new residents, thousands of office workers and hundreds of hotel guests into the North Station/Government Center area. As for honesty, the BRA director needs to publicly recognize that we already have gridlock, and that the gridlock has become much worse in just the past year, and BRA and BTD need to determine why. If not, key factors contributing to our traffic problems may be overlooked, and the study’s potential benefits will be compromised. I’m also concerned that by being funded by the private developers, the study and its recommendations may be slanted to the developers’ benefit. The developers know that gridlock, difficult access to and from their properties and compromised public safety will be a detriment to the financial success of their buildings. Take a look at the solution to a long-time and worsening problem at International Place (IP). A police detail there every weekday afternoon and evening stops traffic on Purchase Street to allow the IP commuters to exit the building’s massive garage, contributing to traffic backups along the Surface Artery. But that solution apparently works for the building owner and the commuters. I’m also concerned with the article’s focus only on the transportation modes of area residents, including the 22% of current residents that “drive alone, which can be a factor in creating congestion,” with no mention of truck traffic or the growing number of commuters driving into or through the downtown in part because the public transit system is at, or over, crush capacity during rush hours. Just take a look at the number of cars that now travel through the Sumner Tunnel or over the Charlestown Bridge INTO downtown Boston during the afternoon and evening rush. Are they all traveling to their homes downtown? I’ve been told that traffic patterns are changing, and the number of cars traveling into and through the downtown is fast growing because area highways are jam-packed. So another concern I have is how comprehensive the study will be. It needs to recognize and assess regional traffic congestion and public transit limits that seem to be having a dramatic, unfortunate impact to travel on our city streets. We were told by the developer of the Government Center Garage project that his massive project will not create traffic problems because the project will have direct access to the Central Artery and the Green and Orange lines. Not so, if there is already no capacity.

    We all need to be part of this study.

  2. Do we need to demand honesty from the BRA? Just open their eyes !! It is not a question of honesty, but rather working with the known facts: the gridlock has mushroomed this year. As you say, David, we are obligated to participate whenever summoned. This is a major, MAJOR commitment the BRA has taken upon themselves. They will do a ‘comprehensive analysis’ , i.e., long duration study. The seeds of doubt are already sown.

  3. I am so tired of reading about hundreds of thousands of $dollars being spent on “studying” #NorthStation environs traffic. Those $400k should be spent upgrading the not-so-super Super Stations electrical capacity so ALL FOUR Green Lines could actually continue through North Station & eventually Lechmere, into Somerville and Medford. As #NorthStation currently exists, there isn’t enough electricity capability to power all four Green Lines through the station. How “super” is that? Not very, if you ask me…

  4. There is no transparency when it comes to the City, and the proof of that is the Big Dig.

    The plans were in the making years ago. The Big Dig was suppose to eliminate traffic, well that
    project is now obsolete and get ready for more traffic and more congestion.

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