By Seth Daniel
The Old Dover Neighborhood Association agreed on Tuesday night, Jan. 17, to lend its support to the Quinzani’s residential development by Related Beal, but with a major asterisk denoting that the Association wants some comprehensive traffic and circulation plans to be hammered out before any construction is allowed.
In fact, the conversation grew so quickly into numerous questions about the overall traffic plan for the area that President Ken Smith put forth an idea to ask the top Boston Transportation Department (BTD) officials to come to Old Dover and update them on plans that seemingly have been stalled for a long time.
“I think we need to get someone from the BTD back out here for our February meeting,” said Smith.
The key concern for Old Dover isn’t the typical concerns over density, numbers of units or architecture, but rather on Quinzani’s plan to use East Berkeley Street as an exit for delivery trucks and ride-sharing vehicles.
One neighbor pointed out that the proposed exit is right on an existing bus stop for routes #9 and #11.
Another pointed out that one of the key problems on that stretch of East Berkeley Street – which is the penultimate bottleneck situation – is that there are already too many delivery trucks.
The traffic plan for residents coming in and out of the underground parking garage is to use Traveler Street. Delivery trucks and ride-sharing companies would enter on Traveler Street, but would exit on East Berkeley – a major concern that surfaced in recent months.
Overall, Old Dover neighbors felt like Related hadn’t really done enough work on its traffic plan, but had really deferred a lot of the questions in favor figuring it out later during the City’s long-term plan to change the directions of some streets and re-configure Harrison Avenue.
“I don’t think they should be given a pass by saying that they will address the traffic impact they are creating later during the City’s process,” said one neighbor. “It’s adding to an already bad situation.”
Said Old Dover Secretary John Connelly, “They need to address our infrastructure needs if we’re going to have that development.”
The discussion gave birth to the larger discussion about promised improvements in response to development in the New York Streets area. This improvements included allowing two-way traffic on Washington Street and others. It also called for a redesign of Harrison Avenue to create a separated bike lane and to get rid of the median in the middle of the road. There has also been frustrations last year over the scrapping of a long-anticipated bike lane in parts of East Berkeley Street, and the lack of interest by BTD in a comprehensive traffic and parking evaluation done by Old Dover volunteers and presented to the City almost two years ago.
None of those things have been settled, and despite having said they would get the changes last fall, BTD is behind schedule in issuing and awarding the contracts for the street change projects.
Having had a bad experience with BTD Planning guru Bill Conroy at a meeting last year, Old Dover has opted to get Commissioner Gina Fiandaca to their meeting. There is no word yet as to whether she or Deputy Commissioner Greg Rooney will attend.
The next meeting is Feb. 21 in Project Place at 6:30 p.m.