The long awaited North Station Area Mobility Action Plan (NSAMAP) kicked off last week with a visioning meeting held at the West End Museum, hosted by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and the Boston Transportation Department (BTD).
The transportation study will recommend solutions to improve the way people get around the North Station area, including the Bulfinch Triangle, the TD Bank Garden, Charles River Park, the Brook Courthouse, Nashua Street, and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).
“This study is about 10 years too late,” said one meeting attendee, referring to the multitude of West End developments already in progress and approved. Officials responded that the the current timing is relevant because accurate traffic estimates can now be tallied with the majority of parcels designated for development with known scope and sizing.
Another resident asked where the money is going to come from to implement the action plan rather than just producing another study. “Our goal is to have several solutions ready to go for when future mitigation funding shows up,” said Pete Stidman of the consultant team from Howard Stein Hudson. The design study is being funded by Massachusetts General Hospital, Delaware North (owners of the TD Garden), Equity Residential, AvalonBay Communities, Related Beal, Boston Properties, HYM Investment Group, and Trinity Financial have contributed $50,000 each, for a total of $400,000.
In response to a question regarding the design of in-progress and approved developments, study officials said they would consider making recommendations to proponents adjusting the transportation elements of these projects if it makes sense.
Audience members raised concerns that the future traffic situation could far exceed current estimates and questioned the baseline data presented. Intersection quality judgements were also highlighted as differing from the baseline presented. In one example along N. Washington Street, the green “good” assessment of intersections was criticized.
While the Longfellow Bridge construction is finishing up, residents expressed concerns that the N. Washington Street bridge construction project will create further traffic gridlock in the coming years.
An open house featured picture boards (shown as images in this post) depicting various conditions, developments and transportation data relevant to the North Station area. A brief review of traffic, bus, rail and bike volume was presented including previous data efforts from the Connect Historic Boston cycle track project, among other previous surveys.
To supplement the community workshops, an interactive NSAMAP website has been created to solicit online feedback from the community and stakeholders about the study area. The website, bit.ly/nsamap2016, allows users to share problems that they have experienced with the transportation network as well as their visions for improving mobility in the action plan area.
One resident raised the opportunity of providing a walking corridor through the study area. Access for emergency vehicles was also highlighted. Double parking and general enforcement issues were repeatedly raised in the visioning session.
The MBTA will be participating in the study, although they were not represented at the meeting. A North End resident asked about the downsizing of the Haymarket T / bus terminal as a result of the Government Center Garage development project.
The rough timeline is as follows:
- Late July/early August: Definition of problems and development of ideas
- Mid-September: Prioritization of ideas
- Mid-October: Turning ideas into concepts
- Early December: Release of draft action plan for review
Images are photos of the poster boards displayed at the open house / visioning session.