A Boston Transportation Department was on hand for the East Berkley Neighborhood Association’s monthly meeting, which took place virtually on June 1, to discuss the city’s eagerly awaited redesign of Harrison Avenue between East Berkley and Herald streets. But much to the chagrin of those in attendance, he didn’t present the construction plans, which, he said, are still being finalized.
Dan Lesser, the BTD’s director of strategic initiatives, said the city is now “actively” working on the plan with design consultants to ensure that it meets current multi-modal safety standards, as well as incorporates all new development in the area.
The city has earmarked $1.5 million in the capital budget for the project, which, Lesser said, is enough to cover the costs of design and construction, and if necessary, the city is in good position to request more money for it.
Lesser said the plan would be ready in winter, with construction set to start some time in 2022, but City Councilor Ed Flynn said the community should be allowed to see the plan as it progresses to provide feedback on it.
Councilor Flynn also said he would advocate with the BTD on behalf for the EBNA to see the plan, “even if it’s tentative.”
“I think what Councilor Flynn said makes sense and we don’t want to wait for 100-percent design to bring the community together before the BTD goes to full design,” said Ted Tye, managing partner of National Development, which developed the Ink Block, and who added he has been involved with the redesign process for Harrison Avenue for the past 10 years.
“These plans are 100 percent engineered now,” Tye said. “You’re really looking at a fully designed street.”
Lesser agreed to reach out to the project team and then circle back to Ken Smith, president of the EBNA board, in the next few days to apprise the group of the plan in progress.
When Smith asked if the feedback that the EBNA has given to the city over the years would be incorporated into the plan, Lesser replied he wasn’t sure, but that he would “check with then project manager to make sure it’s built into the design options.”
Lesser said he would work to incorporate a suggestion to install an elevated walkway where Harrison Avenue crosses Herald Street into Chinatown into the plan, and also reassured residents that the plan would include provisions for bike lanes and would connect with the city’s existing bike-lane network.
Additionally, Lesser said he thought acting Mayor Kim Janey and the BTD’s commissioner had received the letter the EBNA board sent last month expressing their frustration in not being able to review the plan despite repeated promises that it would be forthcoming from the city.
Smith also told Lesser that the conditions of streets throughout Boston are as bad as anywhere in the world he’s ever seen.
*The EBNA will hold a casual cleanup of Peters Park on Saturday, June 5, from 9 to 11 a.m.
* The EBNA also won’t hold monthly meetings in either July or August, but its next meeting is planned for Tuesday, Sept. 7, at the AC Hotel, and according to Flynn, “if all goes well, it will be a hybrid meeting.”