New painted pedestrian crossings and safety signage will be installed overnight on Sunday, Nov. 5 at two footbridge entrances to the Esplanade that cross Back Street at Dartmouth and Fairfield streets, according to officials involved with the project.
Ali Badrigian, director of projects and planning for the Esplanade Association, detailed the crosswalk project, which the nonprofit organization is undertaking in partnership with the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation and the city’s Public Works team, during a virtual meeting held Oct. 24.
The first crossing would be installed where Back Street – a private way divided into numerous different parcels that runs parallel to Storrow Drive – meets Dartmouth Street, said Badrigian.
Although a pedestrian crossing is currently located here, it lacks a crosswalk, added Badrigian, while existing signage now found at the location doesn’t provide approaching drivers with enough information to know that they’re nearing a popular park entry. New safety signage comprising a ‘Yield’ sign for pedestrians and a ‘Stop’ sign for drivers will be installed facing both sides of Back Street at this location, she said.
(The Esplanade has 10 entry points, eight of which can be accessed via footbridges that cross Storrow Drive, said Badrigian, while three of these footbridges are located on Back Street.)
The second crossing, located where Back Street meets Fairfield Street, would have a “similar layout,” said Badrigian, but unlike the Dartmouth Street crossing, a crosswalk was once painted at this intersection, allowing the project team “to reintroduce some of that safety guidance for folks.”
At the Fairfield Street location, the project team also intends to replace existing safety signage, which has been defaced with graffiti and stickers, with new signage (again comprising a ‘Yield’ sign for pedestrians and a ‘Stop’ sign for drivers facing in both directions).
Badrigian described both planned crossings as having standard pedestrian crossing markings atop painted “green swaths” reminiscent of bike lanes found around the city.
Winthrop-based Diamond Asphalt Services Ltd. has been selected as the contractor for this project, said Badrigian, who added that only one side of Back Street will be closed at a time to allow residents to access private residential garages on the street. “Slight” traffic diversions are expected from the project, she said.
“We’re hopeful this is a quick project that we can see immediate results,” said Badrigian.
During public testimony, Martyn Roetter, chair of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay board of directors, as well as a Beacon Street resident, said Back Street now “suffers from problems,” including automobiles regularly driving down the street recklessly and at excessive rates of speed, which he hopes will be remedied as a result of this project.
“Overall, I’m very impressed with what you’re doing,” said Roetter. “I think it will help enormously.”