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.
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.