BTD Offers Virtual Open House for Tremont St. Redesign

The Boston Transportation Department (BTD) has published a virtual open house for the public to learn about the Tremont St. redesign project and provide their feedback.

A link to the virtual open house is available on the Tremont Street Design Project page on the City of Boston website, and residents are invited to make comments or ask questions about the proposal.

The Tremont St. redesign project has become a “priority project” for the BTD following recent fatal crashes on the corridor, according to the presentation. BTD has spent two years gathering questions and comments from the community about what they would like to see on the corridor, and found that major concerns from residents include cars driving too fast, unsafe crossing conditions for pedestrians, and the need for safe bike lanes, among other things.

Currently, Tremont St. has two lanes of traffic in either direction, which makes it dangerous for pedestrians to cross from one side to the other as blind spots are created by having multiple lanes. BTD has proposed to have only one lane of traffic in each direction as part of the redesign, as well as incorporate raised crosswalks and bike lanes in between the sidewalk and parking lane, to increase safety for both pedestrians and cyclists.

“The conditions for multiple-threat crashes exist at every unsignalized crosswalk on Tremont St.,” BTD stated in the presentation. “That’s 18 of the 28 crosswalks between Appleton Street and West Springfield St.”

Pedestrians trying to cross Tremont St. will be able to cross the bike lane and vehicle lanes separately, BTD said.

Changes will also be made to signalized intersections.

“With two receiving lanes, pedestrians are at risk of being struck by a vehicle turning from an intersecting street,” the presentation states. To address this, all traffic signals will be re-timed, and dedicated left turn lanes will be created at the most busy intersections.

“These features will help to keep traffic moving while making it safer for pedestrians,” BTD said in the presentation, adding that it will cause” minimal” impact to travel time for vehicles.

Some signalized intersections will also include a head start for pedestrians before the light turns green for cars.

Additionally. BTD reported that crosswalks at some side streets “don’t line up with where people want to walk,” and water can pool near curb ramps, making it especially difficult for wheelchair or walker users to cross the street.

“Our design includes raised crosswalks at all unsignalized intersections parallel to Tremont St.,” BTD said in the presentation, which means they will be at level with sidewalks, eliminating the issue with the puddles and cars turning onto side streets will have to slow down to cross the hump.

Changes to bus stops along the corridor will also be made. MBTA bus route 43 serves Tremont St., and goes from Ruggles Station to Park Street Station. Right now, some bus stops do not allow buses to pull all the way to the curb, which means riders have to walk on the road before getting to the sidewalk, and it presents a particular challenge for riders with disabilities or strollers.

“To address these issues, we are designing bus boarding islands for most bus stops on Tremont St.,” BTD said.

Bus passengers will cross the bike lane, which runs in between the sidewalk and the boarding island, to get to to the boarding island, which extends into the road. Drivers will wait behind the bus, and the island makes it easy for the bus ramp to allow passengers off right onto the island.

The boarding islands will also have raised crosswalks to make them accessible for all bus riders as well as slow down cyclists. Some bus stops will also be relocated and merged to cut down on travel time.

Some curb regulations changes will also be made in response to feedback that people often have to park far away from their destination and that business owners “want more flexible curbside access” to receive deliveries, as the time of arrival cannot always be controlled.

BTD reported that last fall, they “studied how commercial vehicles use Tremont Street and side streets to load and unload goods.” They learned that morning was the busiest time for loading, and that “73% of loading activity lasted 20 minutes or less.” Additionally, “63% of activity happened at the curbside, not blocking a lane,” BTD said.

BTD also said that 90 percent of the 48 respondents to a an online survey were South End residents, and provided feedback about parking regulations on Tremont St.

Feedback included the desire for more short term parking such as metered parking and pick-up and drop-off areas, the expansion of commercial loading spaces, and the retention of residential parking.

The new bike lanes will feature pre-cast concrete curbs to differentiate the bike lane from the parking lane, and will be wide enough for a street sweeper and a snow plow to travel down for clearing.

BTD said that engineering plans for the project will be wrapped up in “coming months,” and they are also working with the South End Landmark District Commission on appropriate materials for the historic district.

“Following that, we will present our design plans to the Public Improvements Commission for approval,” BTD said. Once a construction schedule is created, BTD said that it will be shared with residents and businesses in the area.

Any resident with questions, ideas, or feedback on the proposed design should email [email protected].

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