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City expects to announce how it will revamp Blue Hill Avenue in December

Rendering of possible bus and bike lanes on Blue Hill Avenue

Rendering of possible bus and bike lanes on Blue Hill Avenue.

The city is out with a comparison of two basic approaches for improving Blue Hill Avenue between Mattapan Square and Grove Hall - a massive re-build with construction of dedicated bus lanes and a more modest plan with a massive increase in traffic enforcement by police - and says it expects Mayor Wu to announce a final plan for the road by the end of the year.

Under one of the scenarios presented to residents, officials and groups along the avenue, the city and MBTA would install dedicated bus lanes - similar to the ones now in pace on part of Columbus Avenue in Roxbury - and take other steps to try to convert what is now a sort of semi-highway into more of a community boulevard, including dedicated bus lanes and major tree planting along the avenue.

Under the other, the city would make more modest physical improvements, such as re-striping crosswalks and replanting trees in what are now empty tree wells - but would also beef up BPD traffic enforcement to make drivers obey laws about speeding and giving pedestrians the right of way in crosswalks.

BTD says the dedicated-bus-lane concept would mean faster, less crowded service on the 28, which is already the most heavily used bus line in New England and which carries more people each day than any single Green Line branch. By slowing vehicle traffic and adding bike lanes, pedestrians and bicyclists would have less worries about getting flattened while crossing or traveling on the avenue. And Blue Hill Avenue would begin to feel more like a part of the neighborhoods it traverses, rather than a commuter speedway - coupled with all the trees that would help transform the street from a long, narrow heat island.

According to a summary of community meetings (skip to page 68 for the details), residents who preferred the less expansive approach said they simply didn't trust government agencies - the MBTA in particular - to get it right, were concerned about the loss of parking spaces in front of avenue stores, were worried about gentrification with bus routes that are actually zippy and don't have buses packed like sardine cans and, at least in the case of Mattapan Square, they liked things just as they are. Also, some people - such as families with young kids - simply need cars to get around.

If the city goes with the bus and bike lane model, city planners would spent 18 months, starting this spring, working with residents and businesses along the avenue on specific block-by-block designs, with an emphasis on parking, bicycling and travel lane issues. The city would then put the rebuilding work out to bid, with construction starting in the spring of 2026.

Under the more modest approach, the city would issue an RFP this spring to select an engineering firm that could design the more limited changes, followed by several months of meetings with residents and businesses to refine work at specific locations along the avenue. Work would then begin in the spring of 2025.

Blue Hill Avenue Traffic Plan has more details on the results of the community meetings.


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Comments

This encourages the view that it is only illegal if you catch me. The truth is that we can affordably prevent speeding and other violations through road design and technology.

fixed it

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There are plenty of street-design decisions that can slow drivers down. Make driving feel less safe at a certain speed, and (most) traffic will slow to where it does feel safe.

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...and there's the double / triple parking outside of Sun Pizza and Happy Supermarket.

Good luck City of Boston.

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If there’s any single street that should get a dedicated bus lane, it’s Blue Hills Ave. The benefit to transit riders would be enormous, more than any other bus lane in the state. The better bicycle infrastructure and tree planting, in combination with bus lanes, would be such an incredible improvement to the area.

I live semi close by, and I avoid Blue Hills Ave at all costs. It’s egregiously dangerous to bike on the street, driving it is a nightmare, and riding the bus feels like a dystopian hellscape as drivers constantly break every single traffic law they can.

Build it!

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More than any other route in the state? What are the odds?

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OP didn't say they needed (or even really used) this bus route, only that they live in the area and it currently sucks.

As far "any other route in the state" - then, yes, the 28 bus carries the most passengers of any bus line in the entire state. It in fact rivals any single Green Line branch in ridership.

So, yeah, it does deserve being properly built out to BRT vs. any other in the state.

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It is more sensible than separate bike lanes and bus lanes

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Dedicated bus lanes make sense where traffic slows down at intersections, and you want the bus to bypass the traffic. Dedicated bicycle lanes do not make sense at intersections, because that space is badly needed for car traffic too.

The best approach is having bicycle lanes along the road, but when you get to an intersection, use that space for a dedicated bus lane instead.

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But full length bus lanes, not just at the intersections on heavily trafficked and gridlocked roads has been studied and shown as beneficial. Have you never heard of BRT?

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This really does happen but it is bizarre and dangerous. Many bike lane disappear at intersections. Safety is more important than saving 10 seconds

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Reminds me of 1990s video games, back when computer games were good.

Looks like it was made with SimCity. I expect to see Leisure Suit Larry in that crosswalk or Paper Boy in the bike lane.

It's good to see the city didn't lose that unlock card that you couldn't photocopy with a black and white copier.

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Reminds me of a Richard Scarry book... BusyTown?

Or in this case "TransitTown"

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Richard Scarry grew up less than a mile east of Blue Hill Avenue at 32 Melville Avenue.

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Leisure Suit Larry?
Wasn't he closer in time to Pitfall Harry than Sim City?

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Leisure suit Larry first came out in 1987 and Sim City in 1989. Both franchises hit their peak in the early 90s (IMHO) and new titles of both are still being released.

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It's a great look. Sim City 2000 had that look, but was much less stylized.

There are actually a lot of modern smaller city-builders and transit games today that you might want to check out. Me, I'm eagerly looking forward to Cities: Skylines 2 from Paradox. Not isometric, but looks to have a lot of depth.

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I still play Sim City 4 (Rush Hour). Love that game! Havent tried the "Cities" games yet, have been a loyal SC player since the very beginning.

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I haven't looked at CS 2 yet because.. I need to get a better graphics card to play it. (Mine will support it but.. a newer card would help).

Cities Skylines is like everything us players wanted in SimCity "5" (what SHOULD have been SimCity 5, none of that spore or EA online game crappola nonsense).

The mod management alone is enough to play. SC4 the mod management got to be too much.

Go play. You'll love it and wont play SC4 anymore because CS will fill that gap nicely.

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frogger ?

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Do you want more police and more tickets and fines? Or would you rather have a bus lane and trees? But actually this is a serious question so I am glad they are asking it.

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Let’s be honest, there are not 2 choices. They “gave” two to make people feel like they have a say but obviously the final “selection” will be the complete redesign. Not that it’s the wrong decision but l really dislike this administrations way about “deciding” things. They basically do what they want under the guise of public opinion. Happened in WR, Copley (bike and closing the area in front of the Library). If you want to govern with a heavy hand just do it. The results will speak for themselves on the ground and at election time. The way they are doing it now they get what they want to do but then can point the finger at us if it doesn’t work. Stand by your decision and own it no matter which way it works out- that is commendable regardless of your opinion on the topic.

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residents who preferred the less expansive approach said they simply didn't trust government agencies - the MBTA in particular - to get it right, were concerned about the loss of parking spaces in front of avenue stores, were worried about gentrification with bus routes that are actually zippy and don't have buses packed like sardine cans and, at least in the case of Mattapan Square, they liked things just as they are. Also, some people - such as families with young kids - simply need cars to get around.

But cars, but parking.. its always the argument why we can't do something.

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Getting rid of clowns racing around would be a start.

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but that would mean... enforcement.

Something BTD and BPD .. or rather any local PD seems to be unwilling to do.

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"the 28, which is already the most heavily used bus line in New England and which carries more people each day than any single Green Line branch"

This suggests that the 28 ought to be rail. But that is never on the table, unlike in other progressive cities.

Also, why does it need to go out to bid and construction won't begin until 2026? Couldn't this be done in-house, faster?

I hope they go with the less, less ambitious proposal.

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Was there a trolley before?

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Yes it was. Most bus routes haven't changed in 100 years. The only difference is that many of them were trolley lines before they were busituted in the 1950s.

I mean look at blue hill ave's geometrics:

Parking
travel lane
travel lane
turning lane
median
travel lane
travel lane
parking

And they've managed to squish a bike lane on both sides in either direction. Wouldn't be too hard to take two of those travel lanes and convert it back to a trolley.

And who knows, if they dig deep enough, like many roads around here.. the trolley tracks still exist under the asphalt.

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Really hope that after a few years of BRT they consider laying the tracks down and converting it as a Mattapan Line extension.

MLX?

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It wouldn't be a Mattapan Line conversion. It would have to be a Green Line extension and ride the original plan to replace the El to Nubian with a Green Line branch that got bait and switched to the Silver Lie down Washington Street.

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The tricky bit to 28 improvements is that Warren St gets relatively narrow between Boston Latin Academy and Blue Hill Ave. If you got rid of parking there's four lanes so there's options, but it's a tight squeeze trying to give multiple modes of traffic space.

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Probably the best option there would be a short cut and cover tunnel it could dive into and pop out in the center of Blue Hill Ave. Which would be cheap almost anywhere else in the world, but, somehow here in the US are tunnels cost 10x what they do in Europe and Asia.

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