Grant would fund fixes along Arborway

March 7, 2008
By

JOHN RUCH

ARBORWAY—Better paths and the removal of a high chain link fence are among small-scale Arborway improvements that the local Arborway Coalition aims to discuss after winning a $15,000 state matching grant last week.

A consultant would run a public process about possible changes by the end of July. But first, the Arborway Coalition has to raise $5,000 by March 14 to get the other $10,000 in state matching funds.

The funding, from the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) Partnerships Matching Funds program—would cover only the planning process. More money would have to be found later to carry out actual improvements.

The process is aimed only at the stretch of the Arborway between the Casey Overpass and Murray Circle—the part that runs next to Arnold Arboretum.

Sarah Freeman of the Arborway Coalition said the group has several proposals it will bring to the table, though the public will be able to raise other issues, too.

One needed fix is to pedestrian paths leading from the Casey Overpass. Right now, a sign directs pedestrians from an overpass sidewalk to a sidewalk that abruptly ends along the roadside. Continuous paths from there to the arboretum, the local residential area or both will be discussed.

A wooded embankment at the intersection of the Arboretum and St. Rose Street is another topic. Much of the hillside was controversially clear-cut by DCR last year. A long-term landscaping plan is on the Arborway Coalition’s agenda.

The hillside may also be a location for a path. An informal one already runs across the hillside and is becoming an erosion problem, Freeman said.

The hillside also now features a sign welcoming drivers to the Arborway, but it is old and vandalized. A nicer version is up for discussion.

A tall chain link fence now runs along an Arborway median strip, with an opening for the pedestrian crossing to the arboretum. The Arborway Coalition will discuss a more attractive solution for that safety issue, as well as ways to stop drivers from regularly driving across other median strips. That ties into general concern about better pedestrian and bicyclist access through the area.

One issue that will not be up for discussion is large-scale roadway redesign controversially proposed by the state over the past few years under the Arborway Master Plan. The Arborway Coalition efforts are totally separate from that process.

“[Residents] shouldn’t come to the meetings to discuss things like rotaries versus intersections,” Freeman said. “It doesn’t involve some of those bigger decisions.”

The Arborway is a state parkway, meaning it is officially both a road and a public park.

The Arborway Coalition frequently partners with DCR on relatively small improvements to the parkways. Last year, it completed the restoration of a historic stone wall at the Arborway/Jamaicaway intersection with money from an earlier version of the DCR matching funds.

The current improvement process is being coordinated with many local parks advocacy organizations and neighborhood associations.

For more information, contact Freeman at 524-0602.

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