Joy Street Pedestrian Improvements Get Favorable Response

The latest concept design for improving pedestrian accessibility on Joy Street drew a largely favorable response at a standing-room public hearing at City Hall on Wednesday.

Connect Historic Boston – an initiative between the National Park Service and the Boston Transportation Department to improve walking, biking and public-transit routes to destinations of interest citywide – intends to elevate the roadway pavement on Joy Street to the level of the non-parking side from Smith Court to Cambridge Street; maintain curb reveals on the parking side of the street; install bollards along the flush curbline to protect sensitive features; and extend the curb at the entrance to the Boston Common at Joy and Beacon streets to shorten the crossing and add waiting area.

Design goals for the project include improving pedestrian experience and access, reducing vehicle speed and highlighting the entrance to the Abiel Smith School and the African Meeting House, according to representatives for Connect Historic Boston.

“Each time, I have seen the plan for Joy Street, it’s gotten better,” State Rep. Jay Livingstone said. “It’s s great project that makes it better for pedestrians and better for bicyclists.”

Keeta Gilmore, president of the Beacon Hill Civic Association board of directors, commended the ongoing process, which she described as “open from the very beginning.”

Gilmore also said that the “shared-street” design proposed for Joy Street has garnered a lot support from the community.

Steve Young, chairman of the Civic Association board, accepted an offer from Vineet Gupta, director of policy and planning for the Boston Transportation, to return to the community to further discuss the drainage of Joy Street on the State House side and other potential project impacts.

Meanwhile, one of Smith Court’s 25 residents expressed concern that the proposed modifications to Joy Street could impede oil and moving trucks and other service vehicles from reaching her home.

“Changes in parking and street [conditions] could affect my ability to live on the street,” she said.

Besides the Joy Street proposal, the first phase of the Connect Historic Boston initiative includes designs for planned pedestrian and bicycle accessibility improvements to the Blackstone Block, located between the Haymarket MBTA station and Faneuil Hall, and Constitution Road in the Charlestown Navy Yard, as well as plans for a historic bike trail around the downtown area.

The project is funded in part through a $15.5 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, discretionary grant awarded to the city by the U.S. Department of Transportation in September.

A design update meeting on the project is tentatively scheduled for April, while the completed design is due on May 31, Gupta said.

The city is accepting comments on the 25-percent design until March 12 via e-mail at [email protected]. To learn more, visit

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