By Dan Murphy
Following an extensive public process that began last summer, the city unveiled the final report for its “action plan” last week, which aims to improve accessibility for various modes of transportation around North Station.
The project area, bound by Cambridge Street on the south, New Sudbury and North Washington streets on the east and the Charles River on north and west, includes areas adjacent to the station, including the Bulfinch Triangle, the TD Bank Garden, Charles River Park, the Brook Courthouse, Nashua Street and Massachusetts General Hospital.
The plan was released through a collaboration between the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), and the Boston Transportation Department, in conjunction with other city departments.
Using both federal funds and mitigation monies from eight private partners, including Massachusetts General Hospital, Delaware North (owners of the TD Garden), Equity Residential, AvalonBay Communities, Related Beal, Boston Properties, HYM Investment Group, the plan commits the city to 15 short-term items, which can be implemented within one to five years, and three long-term items, which are expected to take six or more years to complete, for improving for various modes of transportation (i.e. pedestrian, bicycle, public), according to a statement released by Mayor Martin J. Walsh.
One short-term item entails the “pedestrianization” of Canal Street. Two major, future developments planned for the area – Hub on Causeway and Bulfinch Crossing – are poised to double or triple the 2,000 pedestrians who currently use the street each hour during morning and evening rush hours, according to the plan. In anticipation of this, the city’s Public Works Department is considering replacing the street’s deteriorating sidewalks and reconfiguring the area around Bulfinch Triangle to better accommodate pedestrians, commercial deliveries and for other uses.
An additional short-term item would make pedestrian improvements in the Charles Circle area to provide better access to the Charles/MGH MBTA station, as well as implement a new design for “bikeways” that would allow cyclists to travel more safely through the circle.
Another short-term item would facilitate access to Bulfinch Triangle and include curb-cut improvements. In an effort to guide vehicular traffic away from Canal Street, Valenti Street would be made a two-way street Portland and Haverhill streets while the direction of Friend Street, which is scheduled for reconstruction, would be reversed. Meanwhile, the one-way directions at either end of Valenti Way would remain unchanged.
Besides creating new bike lanes on Cambridge Street, other proposed short-term items include the launch of an airport shuttle from North Station that would build on the success of Massport’s current shuttle service from Back Bay, as well as adopting a “performance-based parking meter pricing” like the city has already done in Back Bay and the South Boston Waterfront.
One long-term item under consideration is the installation of protected bike lanes on Lomasney Way/Nashua Street, according to the plan.