Healthy Streets program will be part of re-opening process

The City of Boston will reimagine streets in Boston to better support local businesses and restaurants, provide additional space for residents using public transportation, and accelerate the installation of bike lanes

Mayor Martin J. Walsh on May 28 announced a series of changes to City streets as Boston continues its planning for a phased, careful COVID-19 reopening process in the City of Boston. Street changes will be phased in over the next several months, and in the next two weeks the Boston Transportation Department will make improvements that include street space allocated for expanded bus stops, new bike lanes, and outdoor restaurant seating.
“Ensuring the safety and health of all residents is our first priority in Boston,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “These innovative streets programs focus on what residents need: safe, reliable transportation if they must travel in Boston, access to fresh air and open spaces, and building social and physical distancing into everyday life. As we continue to carefully plan for reopening in Boston, we will continue our work to create streets and transportation that work for all.”

Improving Bus Stops
To better accommodate workers who use MBTA bus routes, which continue to see high use by essential workers, the Boston Transportation Department will expand bus stops at ten locations in partnership with the MBTA, and will begin to make these changes the week of June 1.
Downtown locations include:
•Hynes Station (Northbound) Stop
In addition, the City of Boston is enhancing Silver Line reliability through Chinatown, and installing a bus lane on Washington Street north of Marginal Road and by repainting the bus lane on Essex Street.

Accelerating Installation of Bike Lanes
To help people get to work safely, the first phase of bike lanes will focus on connecting downtown to the citywide network. They will provide high-comfort dedicated lanes that will be attractive to new bike riders, families, essential workers and commuters.
These quick-build lanes in the downtown include:
•Arlington St (Beacon to Stuart)
•Beacon St (Charles to Berkeley)
•Boylston St (Arlington to Washington)
•Charles St (Boylston to Beacon)
•Columbus Ave (W Newton to Stuart)
•Court St (Congress to Tremont)
•State St (Atlantic to Congress)
•Tremont St (Court to Shawmut)
In addition, the City will implement scheduled bike lanes on Washington Street (from Stuart Street to Avenue De Lafayette), Stuart Street (Charles Street to Washington Street), and Berkeley Street (Tremont St to Columbus Avenue).

Supporting Restaurants and Small Businesses
Last week, Mayor Walsh and the Licensing Board for the City of Boston took steps to streamline existing processes for restaurants who wish to expand outdoor seating as part of the COVID-19 reopening process. These new processes make it easier for restaurants to take advantage of outdoor space in Boston when they are allowed to open under state guidelines, including issuing a questionnaire for businesses that will be used as the starting point for both identifying opportunities for temporary extensions onto outdoor space both on public and private property. Over 270 businesses have already begun this process throughout all of Boston’s neighborhoods. The Transportation and Public Works Departments are reviewing requests from the questionnaires to accommodate outdoor dining on sidewalks and parking lanes.
Temporary street closures with barriers and signs will also be explored as part of the outdoor seating work, and to create better green links to parks and open spaces.
“Public space and transportation will be key to a healthy reopening and an equitable recovery,” said Chris Osgood, Chief of Streets. “Right now, that includes making sure hospital staff and front line workers can get to work safely and affordably, and rethinking how Boston’s streets best serve our residents. These changes to Boston’s streets are in line with Boston’s transportation goals of safety, access, and reliability, and the City’s work to create a safe city for every resident.”

Future phases will include additional bus priority measures, continued adjustments to curb management and enforcement activities, more bike lanes, and new Bluebikes stations. Work continues on existing capital projects, including the construction of several Neighborhood Slow Streets zones this summer.

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