Citizen complaint of the day: Boston's most confusing intersection
By adamg on Sat, 04/01/2023 - 12:18pm
A fed-up citizen files a 311 complaint about the intersection where the main part of Commonwealth Avenue outbound, the Comm. Ave. carriage lane and Kelton Street all come together at a sharp curve right atop the Green Line tracks:
This intersection is so dangerous and confusing!! Please update the lights and/or signage to indicate right of way. The carriage road believing they have the ROW and the main road also having the ROW, plus the T crossing there. It's so unclear and leads to so many near misses. Or, please respond to me to let me know who has the right of way!
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Needs lane paint again
When the lanes are painted, it's quite clear who has right of way (the main lanes of Comm Ave).
The left lane of Comm Ave outbound can proceed straight through without worry. The right lane can proceed straight through, but should expect merging traffic from their right to yield to them. The right lane can turn right onto Kelton but has to yield to the carriage lane traffic. The carriage lane can go straight (to the main lane or stay on the carriage lane) without much concern if someone is waiting to turn right from the main lanes. The carriage lane can also turn right without yielding to anyone. Also, the carriage lane is wide enough you can sometimes get two lanes there (assuming no one is double parking/stopped). At that point the left carriage lane will likely go straight, but the right carriage lane will likely turn right.
The really stupid part is when someone in the left main lane crosses the T tracks and completely ignores that there are two lanes on the other side and just drifts the turn until they realize they're in the right lane and just take it. That's when the real fun begins.
You just devoted a whole paragraph to all the various possible interactions. Drivers aren’t going to be pulling out a flowchart when the light turns green. The intersection is a total white-knuckle mess no matter which lane you’re coming from/going to.
No amount of paint can fix
No amount of paint can fix this fundamentally broken intersection. The issue, to me at least, is that none of the four lanes of outbound traffic can continue straight here without crossing a lane/RoW boundary:
On top of that, there are no curbs or anything else separating the train tracks from the roadway on either side of the intersection. It's basically just flat, unmarked tarmac. Paint might help with that, but it's really just a stupid design that practically encourages cars to get stuck on the tracks.
I've been through here, but I
I've been through here, but I'm not super familiar with it. My memory, possibly confirmed by Google street view, suggests that both main lane and carriage road traffic get a green signal at the same time? Why not just separate them into two cycles? Kind of like what they do near the 93 onramp at South Bay.
I'm sure it would add a delay, but it would be a lot clearer/safer, especially for that right turn.
I’d prefer they post signs to
I’d prefer they post signs to ban zigzag turns (no right turn from main road, no left turn from carriage road). If you want to turn right on Warren, you should get on the carriage road back at the Allston Street light, and there should be signs explaining this.
NYC figured this out on roads like Queens Boulevard.
What is your take on Boylston to
What is your take on Boylston to Bowker overpass turn. Both lanes have ROW to go into the middle lane?
I had always considered main Comm Ave to have right of way
Until i had to get towed when my car broke down. The tow driver grew up in Brighton and claimed that the carriage lane is supposed to have right of way on the right. I always go in the left lane when busy just to avoid issues regardless of who is right. All 3 lanes shouldn't have the green light at the same time.
One wonders why whoever did it felt the need
to have the trolley tracks change alignment there.
They weren't worrying about automobiles in 1900.
The ultimate solution is that
The ultimate solution is that the T tracks are moved into the center between Packard's Corner and Kelton St so that through traffic doesn't have to keep crossing them.
I've had a few near fender-benders there,
so I feel their pain.