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Potential North Washington St. Bus Lane Aims to Improve Traffic Flow

A meeting to discuss potential bus lane improvements to North Washington St. was recently held by Boston Transportation Department (BTD) Transit Team Director Matthew Moran and MBTA Director of Transit Priority Eric Burkman.

Known for its significant congestion, North Washington St. has seen several initiatives over the years attempt to solve traffic and safety concerns. As part of the City’s travel plan integrating Healthy Streets, Vision Zero, and Go Boston 2030, bus lane improvements have been rolling out for several weeks.

Project Orientation, Considerations and Impacts

This newly proposed lane would encompass North Washington St. and Cross St. on the northbound side, and Sudbury St. to Causeway St. on the outbound side.

Serving MBTA buses in addition to emergency vehicles and Boston Public Schools buses, the lane isn’t expected to present any significant problems to the existing bike lane. Parking is also not expected to be impacted, with both Moran and Burkman adding that any traffic and congestion would be closely monitored, assessed, and addressed accordingly.

Improved conditions and overall reliability is expected for the vast majority of people commuting on the corridor. The team estimates an approximate 3-4 mins of time savings for buses. Drivers may face some delays, with exact data yet to be determined (reckoned by Moran as a couple of radio station commercials at most).

Quick-build materials will be used. Signage, which was a point of concern for some residents during the meeting, will be posted, and BTD will follow up with MassDOT about updating drivers with new traffic pattern information so they can plan accordingly and utilize alternate routes.

Community Feedback: Questions and Concerns

Residents weighing in on the proposal mainly voiced their support, citing their hopes that the new outbound lane would help reduce speeding and merging.

Reporting loud overnight vibrations due to trucks and heavy-duty vehicles, one resident wondered if any repaving/reconfiguration work was being planned. Moran and Burkman responded that while no repaving is currently planned, they would refer the issue to Boston Public Works for future evaluation.

North End Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) President Brett Roman asked how many more buses were expected to roll out, both hourly and daily. Burkman said he would follow up with the scheduling info.

Roman also inquired as to the extent of any traffic modeling and analyses conducted that may account for future, wider office re-openings and other factors leading to increased traffic. Both Moran and Burkman stated that they’re committed to monitoring the evolution of the project and would continue working with neighborhood groups.

Next Steps

Following further public engagement and confirmation of the design details, the project team is looking toward late summer/early fall 2020 for implementation, pending neighborhood feedback.

3 Replies to “Potential North Washington St. Bus Lane Aims to Improve Traffic Flow

  1. In all honesty, this is the most ridiculous thing I have seen. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills! The aim is to “improve traffic flow.” How does this do that? I understand that traffic in the city is an issue but until you can force commuters to utilize public transit instead of personal vehicles, that is not going to change one bit. One of the major problems is that public transit is not an attractive option to most as it is unreliable and terribly managed. Boston is a major metropolitan city and vehicle traffic is an inherent part of the equation. To think that we can somehow remove this from the equation by adding bike lanes and bus lanes, is absolutely crazy. It is treating the symptom and not the problem.

    Just like the bike lane on Commercial and the redesign of Causeway, this will be just another “improvement” forced upon us by out of touch buffoons. Bike lanes and bus lanes are nothing but a hollow feather in the cap of politicians who can point to the miles and miles of each that they have installed under their tenure. In actuality, it is a waste of public resources/funding that creates more problems than it solves but nobody wants to entertain that thought because it is all under the guise of “going green.” I am all for doing things to save and positively impact our environment, but this is not it. This will negatively impact many more than it will benefit but as usual, we have no choice and the “experts” will move forward with their “improvement.”

  2. As someone on the Zoom Meeting who expressed concern with the residential buildings shaking and vibrating from the speed of trucks and buses on North Washington Street, the first step in improvement for the local area would be to smooth over North Washington Street. The uneven pavement and potholes are a detriment to traffic and the buildings on North Washington and Endicott Street which are feeling the effects. Several requests by many local residents to the city and officials have fallen on deaf ears. Why host community meetings if feedback isn’t heard?

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