Mayor Wu and her transportation chief today announced new measures to make Boston streets safer - including a revival of plans to turn Centre Street between the Holy Name Rotary and Lagrange Street in West Roxbury into a three-lane road with dedicated turn lanes, pedestrian islands and signal changes aimed at slowing down drivers and giving pedestrians better odds of being able to get from one side of the street to the other.
The city plans to detail its plans for the Centre Street project - for which officials hope to break ground later this year - at a meeting at the Ohrenberger School at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31. It is also planning a series of smaller drop-in meetings with specific groups, for example, small business owners.
Organizers of the successful effort to kill the Walsh administration's plans to reconfigure the road, which they claimed was really a plot by sinister bicycle and outsider interests out to destroy the neighborhood, have their own meeting set to organize to fight the new plan. Only West Roxbury residents and business owners will be let into the session, which starts at 6:30 p.m. on June 14 at the Elks - organizers emphasize they will be checking IDs at the door.
Boston's Chief of Streets, Jascha Franklin-Hodge, said today that Centre Street simply remains far too unsafe for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers, in part because it remains a speedway where too many drivers continue to get up to 40 m.p.h. and where pedestrians remain at risk from crashes where one driver stops for them at a crosswalk and then another driver just barrels through to hit them.
Franklin-Hodge pointed to an incident in December, when a driver ran over the foot of a kindergartener in front of the library near the Lyndon School as just the latest in a string of crashes involving pedestrians.
He acknowledged some residents never stopped fighting the first plan, but said he hopes he and other officials can give them "clear eyed" explanations of how the changes would benefit everybody by making the road safer.
Franklin-Hodge said the work will, in broad terms, be similar to a 2019 proposal, initially supported by City Hall following the death of Marilyn Wentworth, hit and thrown in the air as she walked in a crosswalk by a driver who said she was blinded by solar glare.
In addition to reducing the number of through lanes on each side from two to one, the road would get a new "flex lane" in the middle, for use both for dedicated left turn lanes and by emergency vehicles.
However, he said the plan has been revised to take into account changes long the road since 2019.
For example, he said, the city is looking at limiting parking to 15 minutes along the Centre Street stretch across from the Roche Center and the under-construction Chase Bank because of all the residents and delivery drivers who now double park to make pickups at all the small restaurants now clustered there.
He added that another change would be to have the signals run in a sequence that not only would mean automatic pedestrian crossing lights but which would give them several seconds of a head start over motorists when lights change to green for those drivers. The city is also looking at how to minimize the overall loss of parking spaces from the reconfiguration, he said.