Bike lanes to nowhere on rebuilt West Roxbury bridge could one day lead to bike lanes on West Roxbury Parkway
MassDOT officials tonight showed off preliminary plans for the replacement for the West Roxbury Parkway bridge over the train tracks between Holy Name Rotary and Belgrade Avenue - plans that include a new center turning lane and a bicycle lane in either direction, even though the bike lanes will initially be of little use since the parkway doesn't currently have any marked bike lanes.
But in a Zoomed public meeting, officials said the lanes could one day connect with new bike lanes along the length of the parkway south of the bridge. Anthony Christakis, MassDOT project manager for the bridge project, said DCR, which owns all of the parkway save the bridge "is preparing a master plan for the parkway," and while he has no idea what they are thinking, being a completely separate agency and all, he noted the parkway certainly has a lot of space, enough for bike lanes between Belgrade Avenue - which already has bike lanes - and Washington Street.
Technically, the parkway is part of one of the state's oldest bike paths, the Claire Saltsonstall Bikeway, designated in the 1970s to connect Boston and the Cape, but there are no dedicated bike lanes on the parkway segement and the one sign indicating its role in the 135-mile path long ago disappeared.
Christakis and other officials said an inspection this past July showed the bridge needs to be replaced soon because it's falling apart. He said it's safe enough in its current blocked-off mode to support traffic, but that the state put netting under the bridge to keep chunks from falling on the tracks or passing trains, stepped up its inspections and sped up plans to replace the bridge.
Officials hope to have detailed plans in place by mid-2024 to put the project out to bid. Once a contractor is selected, the bridge would be shut for two to three months so it can be replaced with a new span. Current state plans do not say when, exactly, that might be done.
Officials have started working on possible detour routes for both drivers and pedestrians (who could use the same roads as drivers, plus the path across the train tracks at the Bellevue train station off Belgrade Avenue).
Christakis said the state would try to schedule construction in late summer to minimize the impact on businesses along Centre Street in West Roxbury and Belgrade Avenue in Roslindale. He added that construction would be timed to work around Needham Line schedules to minimize any delays in train service.
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Cost per ride
studies show are a complete waste of money. We might as well start installing wheelchair lanes.
The cost is zero
The bridge needs to be replaced, so that's a sunk cost. Most likely the bridge will be the same width that it is now.
This is nothing fancy. It looks to be the kind of rebuild that shouldn't be controversial, but bicycles.
Yes, the bridge will be the same width
It might be four or five inches taller, based on a request from the MBTA, officials said at the meeting.
Want to link to those studies?
Future proofing infrastructure is something we should do more of here. Rather that repairing a road then shutting it down again to make bike and pedestrian improvements, which we have seen several times in the region, it makes a lot more sense to do it all as a single project, by integrating pedestrian and bicycle improvements into repairs.
This is how the Dutch built out such an impressive bike network, by making continual improvements to their bicycle infrastructure an integral part of standard roadwork. It also saves money in the long run as it reduces redundant work, saves labor time (particularly in redundant start up and shit down time), and results in fewer disruptions. This is also nominally the standard in MA since the publication of the “Separated Bike Lane Planning & Design Guide” in 2015, although unfortunately it seems to often not be practiced. Good that at least this part of it seems likely to be actually implemented here.
The “bike lanes to nowhere” framing is misleading though, even given the existing infrastructure. There are (unprotected) bike lanes on Belgrade ave leading right up to the bridge. There are also (unprotected) bike lanes on Centre street on north eastern side of the rotary. This bridge would provide connections between these two existing lanes. Likewise the paths along the west Roxbury parkway north of the rotary aren’t explicitly for bikes but they are fairly regularly used by people on bikes and people in that direction would also benefit from improved connections to roslindale square that this bridge would enable.
The only issue I see here is that from the diagram it looks like they are “buffering” the lanes with some striped paint rather than a curb or other physical barriers, which is against both global best practice and the nominal the standard in MA. In the context of rebuilding a bridge from scratch there is really no excuse for the minimal cost cutting that would entail. What is the point of implementing high standards if they aren’t going to be actually practiced?
Because realistically, like
Because realistically, like the bike lanes on belgrade, what they're actually for is storing snow without narrowing the traffic lane during the winter. Bollards would mess that up.
What exactly is DCR doing?
You would think the Department of Conservation and Recreation might be a little more forthcoming with their plans to improve said recreation on the parkways rather than following the lead of MassDOT. It seems incredible that these state agencies apparently don't even talk to each other when planning infrastructure improvements??
I don't think DCR is being secretive. You can read about the extensive work they've done already in thinking about what the parkway could look like here: https://www.mass.gov/doc/dcr-parkways-master-plan-2020/download
This report was released to much media fanfare a few years ago (because they dragged their feet releasing it, but anyway...) However, it's likely that the project team didn't think it was relevant to brush up on for the meeting.
It's more like
One hand not talking to the other. They're both state agencies and yet they obviously aren't communicating, at least in this one particular area.
Welcome to Massachusetts
Funny, why aren't you asking what the dept of Conservation and Recreation is doing in the road business?
Answer: Mostly fear that MassDot would turn 'parkways' into highway-like roads
Isn't DCR doing enough of that by themselves?
DCR is a mess
especially when it comes to creating any kind of usable, sensible infrastructure for commuting by anything other than a car.
The proposed bike lanes actually connect the existing lanes on Centre St east of the rotary with those on Belgrade Ave. Current industry practice for bike facilities at rotaries (and roundabouts) is to end the lanes at a crosswalk or ramp at the circle periphery and bring cyclists onto the sidewalk to circulate. This project would 'bridge' the bike network gap that exists today, though as I think many will point out, the practice of sending people on bikes onto a regular sidewalk is not much of a bike "facility". The roundabout at UMass Boston is a newer example of this, though here in W Roxbury we're just talking about one approach roadway.
They'd have to be concrete walls....
Drivers in West Roxbury are insane. Trust me. Stand at any major intersection for two light cycles between 5 and 7 pm and you'll see more cars run red lights than anywhere else in the city. Fix that before encouraging cyclists into the area.
Centre Street road diet and bike lanes need to be in the Wu administration's budget this year. No more kowtowing to an aggressively vocal minority screaming about bike lanes and communism.
The aggressive minority
Screaming is the small percentage of people who actually want bike lanes.
Most of us drive and will continue to do so regardless of the vocal opinions of a few people who just recently moved here.
Look around you, not many people are actually cycling.
And do It all the way
Should be done all the way from Jackson square to west Roxbury.
I'm guessing that the side with two auto lanes is heading OUT of the rotary, towards Belgrade Ave. As some other wise poster noted earlier, you only need one lane coming into the rotary, but two going out will make all the difference.
Hopefully they really do this replacement in mid-late August when traffic is at it's lowest. It will a pain while it's closed.
That's my guess, since that's
That's my guess, since that's the current orientation and you can't make a left into a rotary. The only change to the current car lanes seems to be the middle lane changing to a turn only lane.
In the morning though.....
There is more of a need for two lanes coming forward. I've noticed that (probably because of waze) cars will filter onto that access road there (still W. Roxbury Pkwy) and then filter back into the main road via Beech/Anawan etc.
It all depends on how structured they make this rotary. I still can't figure out the rotary at Centre St. and the Arborway down there after they "fixed" it. Cars seem to merge in all sorts of crazy directions but for some reason people are polite enough to let people merge/cut over etc. where it doesn't seem to be a problem. I can't imagine being from another part of the country or world and then driving into that Arborway rotary and having to figure out WTF to do there.
I should be excited about the safety implications.
A new bridge less likely to drop my car onto the tracks sounds dreamy, I guess, but I can't be arsed. The bike lanes wash without further investment: I'm less likely to die on the bridge now so I'm more likely to make it to the rotary and die there. OK.
No, it's striping that really gets me excited. No more abomination, 1.5 lanes each way. Lanes! Real, whole-number lanes. God bless. If they can follow up with unambiguous striping on the stretch between the bridge and the Beech/Anawan intersection, that'll do further wonders. Even the people that like being 'smart' and forging their own lane to continue straight towards Enneking will probably - albeit without realizing it - appreciate peaceable, orderly driving more.
All bike lanes are to nowhere
All bike lanes are to nowhere.
Very nihilistic of you
I wouldn't particularly describe "most parts of the city" as "nowhere" but I guess if you don't ascribe any value to this reality that might make some sense.