Traffic committee reunites

March 16, 2012
By

The Boston Police E-13 Traffic and Parking Committee is reconvening after a year absence.

The committee, which is a collaboration among the local E-13 Police Station, residents, city agencies and elected officials geared to improving traffic safety, stopped meeting when its representative from the Boston Transportation Department retired and a replacement was not available. A new BTD representative has been found, and the committee was slated to meet March 13, after the Gazette’s deadline.

“It’s certainly exciting to me,” Mike Halle, a member of the committee, said about the meeting. “There’s a lot of things that have been happening in JP since we last met.”

He mentioned Whole Foods coming to Hyde Square, saying the issue about parking in its lot during off-hours would be talked about during the meeting. Halle noted that that was allowed when Hi-Lo Foods was there, and a discussion will take place to see if there is still a strong desire for that policy to continue.

Another topic of concern are drivers taking a left hand-turn from Columbus Avenue onto Washington Street, a problem that was brought to Halle’s attention from Egleston Square Main Street Executive Director Betsy Cowan.

Other topics to be discussed at the March 13 meeting were how to improve the Boylston/Amory Street intersection and what impact the construction in the Jackson Square area will have on traffic.

“These are the things we know about,” said Halle. “There are certainly issues we don’t know about. Other things are happening.”

Moving forward, Halle would also like the committee to garner more people focused on long-term thinking. He has noticed in the past some people come for a specific problem, then stop coming when that problem is solved.

The traffic committee was formed four years ago when Boston Police Officer Mike Connolly realized many complaints were falling on the police after other agencies failed to do anything about them. He created the committee and asked the help of Halle, who had recently moved to JP from Cambridge. He had volunteered in Cambridge on a pedestrian and bicycle safety committee.

“It really is a teamwork between the BPD, BTD, and citizens,” Halle said of the JP traffic committee. “We work together constructively.”

Halle, who works at Brigham and Women’s Hospital designing software that helps doctors look at images and plan surgery, talked of  several of the committee’s past accomplishments. One involved cutting through bureaucratic red tape to get a crosswalk installed on Amory Street between the Southwest Corridor Park and The Brewery business complex.

There are many projects, both small and large, that can be done in JP to improve traffic safety, noted Halle. He wants JP to become a model for other communities to follow.

“I’m excited not only about the big projects, but also using this unique forum do something about the small things,” said Halle. “That’s the type of stuff that makes a difference in people’s lives.”