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Work begins on traffic-calming re-do of Centre Street in West Roxbury

Pedestrian crossings dug up at Centre and Hastings streets

Thomas Gunning Kelley looks over dug-up pedestrian crossings at Centre and Hastings.

A contractor hired by BTD has begun tearing up pedestrian crossings along Centre Street in West Roxbury as the first phase of a project that will reconfigure the road from four car travel lanes to two, with new center turning lanes, pedestrian crossings and dedicated bike lanes along the sidewalks, protected from traffic by parked cars.

New configuration between Corey and Maple (pink, purple and blue are parking spaces, with bike lanes next to the curb):

New lane configurations between Maple and Corey

City officials say the work will make the neighborhood's main shopping street safer for not just pedestrians and bicyclists but for motorists as well. They say this is in part by slowing speeders, in part by reducing the chances of bicyclists and motorcyclists getting hit and of pedestrians getting flattened in "double threat" crashes - where one driver stops to allow a pedestrian cross only to watch in horror as somebody in the other lane slams into the person. Motorists will also find it easier to make left turns, city planners say.

Opponents, who have sprinkled the neighborhood with orange-and-yellow protest signs, say they resent a bunch of outsiders, some even from Cambridge, and some with evil intent for bucolic West Roxbury by telling them what's best for their neighborhood and saying maybe if bicyclists obeyed traffic signals, they wouldn't have so much to worry about.

For the next two to three weeks, workers from DeRoma Construction, who have already torn up and marked - in neon pink - crossings between roughly Holy Name Rotary and Lagrange Street - will ensure all the crosswalks and ramps are ADA compliant. Next, the city says:

Once completed, contractors will begin milling and resurfacing the road from Bellevue St. to Belgrade Ave. and marking lanes for the updated configuration.

The latest specs for the new configuration include four-foot wide bike lanes next to the curb with three-foot buffer strips separating them from parking lanes, a dedicated left-turn lane from Belgrade Avenue onto Centre and converting a number of parking spaces along Centre from two- or four-hour spots to "short term parking spaces for pickup/dropoff, delivery, and loading operations" - for example, in front of the take-out places around the corner from Belgrade Avenue and Manthorne Street (more details on the parking changes).

Also, pedestrian signals will no longer require push activation. Instead, pedestrians will get "Walk" signals to go with green lights for cross streets - but with "leading pedestrian intervals" so that walkers get a head start. The one exception will be at Lagrange Street, where pedestrians will still need to push a crossing button.

The Walsh administration first proposed a similar project in 2019 following the death of a woman walking across Centre at the intersection show in the top photo, but withdrew the plans after a group of outraged West Roxbury residents began a campaign that included anonymous mailings to West Roxbury and Roslindale residents about "the bicycle lobby" conspiring to "ruin our neighborhood."

The Wu administration revived the basic idea earlier this year as part of a citywide effort to make major roads safer.

In July, opponents and proponents held dueling rallies several blocks apart on Centre. One opponent unfurled a large "Don't Tread on Me" flag.

Project overview and updates from BTD.

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Comments

Great News! It’s nice when sanity and safety wins.

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Is not installing bike lanes that will hardly get used.

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That there's more to the plan than just bike lanes?

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Once the "B" word is used, some people can see nothing else.

It reminds me of cartoons where a burglar throws a steak to distract a guard dog.

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Are the bike lanes also bus lanes, like the ones in Rozzie? If so they'll actually get used a ton. Absolutely ridiculous that people riding the bus have to compete with insane Westie drivers to get places.

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Um, sorry, buses will go in the car lanes, but they'll have bus stops to pull into (a couple of them will be moved half a block).

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is underutilized. I take the bus to South Station and back every weekday. I can count on one hand bicyclists who have used this in the last month. I can’t say I blame them, it looks more dangerous now than when there wasn’t a dedicated bus lane.

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Counting cyclists?

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The summer St bike lane is one of the worst pieces of bike infrastructure in the city.

The pilot seems pretty ineffective at keeping cars out of the bus lanes (have things changed? Red paint yet?)

Biking on summer st is awful, so it's not surprising people avoid it.

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Thanks in advance.

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But millions will be late!

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No one will drive down there and shop at businesses if traffic is slower and safer. Only speed demons spend money at local businesses. That's science.

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West Rox has fallen . Billions must drive 30 mph and under

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This is worse than slavery.

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Said in jest, no doubt, but I think you've accurately captured the hysteria in your several orders of magnitude too high estimate of drivers that use the corridor.

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I can’t wait to not be absolutely terrified to ride my bike down a small business corridor!

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From the best West Roxbury exTwitter account:

We shall go on to the end.
We shall fight at the Gentle Dental and Comella's,
we shall fight with growing confidence and strength at the Planet Fitness,
we shall fight on the Parkways and on the rotaries,
we shall fight in the 17 banks and the toy store.
We shall never surrender.

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I've Googled and searched State and City websites with no success. UHub is my only hope. Does anyone know of any way to find out where night time construction noise is happening in the City? 311 doesn't help. I'm talking middle of the night Boulder crushing and demolition sounds in Forest Hills area.

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You could try looking here to see if they have an after hours permit. https://data.boston.gov/dataset/after-hours-construction/resource/c66524... The search functionality looks pretty limited.

You could call the Inspectional Services Department.

Your best bet might be for you and your neighbors to file 311 complaints.

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It appears from the photo caption that the pedestrian crossings are being eliminated entirely. That would make more sense. Build a couple of pedestrian overpasses and let the traffic move more smoothly.

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The current crossings are being rebuilt, to make them ADA compliant.

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Everywhere on Centre Street there are markings near the crosswalks - from what I can read, they describe the length in feet and the grade in percent towards the street. What they will likely do is improve those crossings by making them wider, and have tactile boxes for those with sight problems.

I've also noticed on the other side of Centre Street (between Weld Street and the Holy Name rotary) they've put up bollards and bike lanes there too.

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I'm in WR a few times a week, driving from JP. I have not experienced speeders on Centre between Holy Name and LaGrange, probably because of the time of day (afternoon).

The worst driving, speed-wise, is between Holy Name rotary, up over the hill, and down to the small business district. People driving pass on the left, on the right, to get to the light at Weld St., to wait until I catch up. I'm not creeping along either but they still see it as a speedway especially at the South St. signal. That's a wide stretch of road that could really use a diet. They could upgrade to protected bike lanes with no loss of parking for the residents there.

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Lucky you.

I walk there almost everyday, at different times and have to play chicken in the crosswalks - maybe 1/15 drivers stop...even the police won't stop for you.

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You would think that hill would discourage people from speeding, but that grade downhill towards Weld is tempting.

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It appears from the photo caption that the pedestrian crossings are being eliminated entirely. That would make more sense. Build a couple of pedestrian overpasses and let the traffic move more smoothly.

This is just the absolute dumbest take on every level and I salute you so hard.

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What kind of "vibrant neighborhood" needs THREEEEE goddamn banks on ONE BLOCK?? WHO IN GODS NAME ACTUALLY NEEDS ALL THESE BANKS. Nobody!! They literally just sit there sucking up real estate, deadening the street scape, artificially inflating commercial rents, probably serving as some kind of demented tax write off for mega-finance-corps because most banks see maybe 10 customers in a day but they're paying employees to stand there ALL DAY DOING NOTHING.

God I would rather have more nail salons, at least they usually dress up their windows a bit with signage and college-dorm-string-lights and such.

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. . . . if you are good with more empty store fronts.

I suspect many will be gone at the end of their lease.

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OMG! Civilization will cease to exist b/c cars can't go 40mph down a main street area!

In all seriousness though, when I see the "Save Centre Street" signs I think "from what?"

Really, what are you saving it from?

Is it from actual humans that want to walk there and do business without worrying about getting hit on a daily basis?

Is it from having business owners deal with the fact they and their employees take up the parking on Centre Street all day long and then bitch when 16 spaces are removed to ensure it's safe for all w/ a better traffic flow?

I imagine the family that lost their loved one (and the others that have gotten hit) must feel pretty bad when they see these signs in their neighbors yard...to think cars are more important than actual living beings.

Time to move forward friends. We are so far behind in our cities it's cringeworthy.

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This means war.

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Wonderful. The sweet light of reason and common sense prevails. Usually the problem with common sense is that its very uncommon.

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There aren't really four "travel lanes" with the current configuration - the left lanes are left-turn lanes, the right lanes are Uber Eats lanes, and thru-traffic must slalom between them to get by.

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Serpentine!...Serpentine!!

(RIP Alan Arkin & Peter Faulk)

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crosswalks across the city have not been repainted in years, particularly the ones around schools, playgrounds and elderly housing. The City has its priorities screwed up.

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Probably you meant not that these crosswalks are "particularly" not repainted, but that they should be prioritized for repainting, which I'd agree with.

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Old time Westie f-cked around and found out. They go after Wu nonstop and she's now pushing this through. They got lucky in the state rep race with the progressive vote split. They got Lara bounced and she'll just be replaced with another councilor Weber from JP who is as liberal and smarter than her but doesn't crash cars into houses. They're on borrowed time politically and it's showing.

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I don’t think Wu is being vindictive by allowing the road diet to go through, just as Walsh wasn’t displaying affection for WRox when he moved to block it.

She just didn’t — and still doesn’t — need Westie NIMBY votes, whereas Walsh did. In fact, I’d go so far as to guess that Wu will only gain local votes by supporting the road diet, since it has a high chance of bettering Centre St by modernizing it.

You’re right about some quarters being on borrowed political time, though. It feels like a lot of WRox grew up in a single happy political block (figuratively and literally) and confused solidarity with power, even wisdom.

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