By Beth Treffeisen
Mayor Martin Walsh joined local residents to launch the groundbreaking of the Audubon Circle $7 million reconstruction on Saturday. The project will increase safety, improve travel conditions, and increase green space for all who use Audubon Circle.
Audubon Circle serves as a key connection for communities in the City from the hospitals, to Fenway Park, to people’s homes. Often times, the Mayor said, the people who live here are overlooked.
“The infrastructure here in Audubon Circle should live up to that and should live up to this neighborhoods expectations,” said Mayor Walsh. “It has to be safe for our walking and biking and has to be environmentally friendly for our future kids and for the future of our city.”
He continued, “It should be beautiful and welcoming where you can enjoy and spend time and not just passing through. That is what Audubon Circle is originally designed to do and with this reconstruction that is exactly what it will be.”
The new design, which was developed in cooperation with the Audubon Circle Neighborhood Association and others in the community, will increase safety and improve travel conditions for all users.
“As we continue to talk about Vision Zero and reducing incidents and injuries for pedestrians from cyclists and cars across the city, it is so important that we’re looking at this holistically and I am excited to begin work further down Beacon Street,” said Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim.
He continued, “I’m excited to be celebrating the beginning of this project and I look forward to coming back and celebrate the completion. Thank you all and I look forward to getting going.”
Michael Nichols the president of the Audubon Circle Neighborhood Association noted that a former Mayor once called Audubon Circle Boston’s best little pocket neighborhood.
“We are part of the Fenway and we are very proud of that status and in our own right Audubon Circle has really become Boston’s best little pocket neighborhood, thanks to those who invest your time and resources and care in living here and looking after the neighborhood,” said Nichols.
The project will include four plazas, each featuring planters and seating that will be situated on the four corners of the intersection. Poetry will be engraved on each of the four planters, and each poem will reflect one of the four seasons.
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky chose the poems that all stem from the subject of birds. Authors include Robert Frost, Emily Dickerson and long-time Audubon Circle resident Derek Walcott.
Walcott was a Saint Lucian poet and playwright who spent many years living on St. Mary’s Street in the neighborhood. He passed away this past March and his family has granted permission to use a line out of his poem “The Season of Phantasmal Peace” as one of the four poems to be inscribed on the benches.
“It is very much about birds and the tradition, the human tradition of which birds and their song embody meaning and are related to human meaning,” said Pinsky.
Frederick Law Olmstead designed a tree-lined gateway to the Fenway and the Emerald Necklace as the original design for Audubon Circle in 1887. This project will work towards completing that vision.
Additional improvements include: shorter crosswalks, dedicated signalized left turn lanes, new bike lanes, new street lighting, and green infrastructure with rain gardens, permeable pavements and 49 street trees planted in structural soil and 12 magnolias.
Partners making a contribution to this project include the City of Boston Transportation Department, Boston Water and Sewer Commission, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Children’s Hospital and Samuels Associates.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled with this project,” said Nichols. “It really will we believe improve safety in the neighborhood, improve traffic flow, the livability for those of us who live here and provide important access to open space and important access in incorporating the arts to the daily lives of local residents.”
Construction is expected to be completed by November 2018.