City Pleased With East Berkeley Parking Pilot, Neighbors Hope for More

It’s been one year since the City finally stepped in to institute a pilot program that limited parking on a stretch of East Berkeley Street in the South End that has been a logjam for years – and the early data shows that the program is successful.

Neighbors in the East Berkeley area have done numerous volunteer studies on parking and traffic in the area between Harrison Avenue and Washington Street, a stretch that has been a traffic pinch point for several years due to the fact that it narrows from three lanes to one.

Last summer, after years of back and forth between neighbors and business owners there, the City stepped in to give the pilot program a shot. It allowed parking on the north side of East Berkeley in the area only between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. That basically meant there was no parking allowed during the daytime, thus creating a second travel lane during the busiest hours.

Boston Transportation Department (BTD) said it did not collect specific data on the pilot program, but did make regular observations on site and via traffic cameras.

“Using real time feed from cameras located in the area, City of Boston Traffic Management Center traffic engineers regularly observed traffic backed up to Harrison Avenue when the parking restriction on East Berkeley Street was limited to peak hours Monday through Friday,” read a BTD statement. “Since the parking restriction has been extended to 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week,  observations made by TMC staff indicate that traffic flow on East Berkeley Street has improved considerably. Allowing vehicles to proceed using two lanes of East Berkeley Street has greatly eased congestion and improved travel times mid-day Monday through Friday as well as on the weekends.”

The East Berkeley Neighborhood Association (EBNA) was pleased to hear the pilot was successful, but said they would like to see a next step in the process.

President Ken Smith said he and the EBNA Board are calling for an extension of the parking restriction.

“We’re thrilled that the data bears out improved traffic flow, as we knew it would,” Smith said. “But, Boston is a 24-hour city, and congestion is only getting worse. One lane of travel for the block in question after 6 p.m. remains to be problematic. A majority of neighbors polled believe there’s a profound need to open up that block to two lanes of travel at all times. This would still allow one full parking lane on the south side of East Berkeley. We appreciate all the efforts that have made this pilot successful and the willingness to try it and are advocating strongly that the pilot become permanent with the addition of extending the hours as mentioned above.”

Smith said they also would like the City to take a next step in replacing the lost parking with some spots down the street by the Berkeley Gardens – a proposal they advanced five years ago.

“For years, EBNA has suggested that the City look to add a lane of parking further up East Berkeley along the Berkeley Gardens,” he said. “EBNA is well aware that the parking needs to be supplanted and offered the solution above that would add at least as many parking spots on East Berkeley between Shawmut and Tremont.”

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