At Long-Last, Southbound on Washington Street Is Possible

It has taken much longer than expected, but ultimately the job got done and two-way Washington Street and Traveler Street in the New York Streets area of the South End debuted last week.

Heretofore, only buses could go southbound on Washington between Herald and East Berkeley Street, and vehicles had to make the long loop to Harrison or Albany and then head south. Vehicles were able to go northbound.

That strange configuration – along with making Traveler two way for its entirety between Washington and Albany – disappeared last week when workers opened up the street all ways.

“We’re excited about the two-way work being in place as it is an important transportation step for the neighborhood,” said Ted Tye of National Development, which brought Ink Block to the market. “The complete rebuilding of Harrison Avenue is in the City’s budget this fiscal year and has been delayed by construction of 321 Harrison and the Quinn.  We hope to see that much needed, long anticipated project start soon.”

The two-way project is in partnership with the Boston Transportation Department (BTD), the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) and the Public Works Department. The idea came out of the Harrison/Albany Corridor Study several years ago, said BTD’s Bill Conroy and BPDA’s Jim Fitzgerald. The idea was making Washington a two-way was to improve circulation in this section of the South End as it was developed more intensely, and to preserve regional bus and bike connections.

Fitzgerald and Conroy both said the project was long-anticipated and the design was consider for some time. That was in connection also with the rapid development of New York Streets after the area started slowly.

Both said they did understand the frustration with the slowness, as it was a priority, but that it took more than just painting new traffic lines on the streets. The streetscape change involved modifications to traffic signals at the intersections, sidewalk reconstruction, road resurfacing, ADA compliant ramp installation, and updates to pavement markings.     

The completion of two-way Washington now allows BTD and BPDA to begin thinking about companion projects, such as working with MassDOT to make the Harrison Avenue Bridge off of Herald Street also a two-way roadway. Additionally, the massive Harrison Avenue redesign in New York Streets is also on the docket, and is only awaiting the completion of projects on the street before starting.

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