School buses could pose danger on South St.

May 24, 2013
By

FOREST HILLS—Boston Public School (BPS) and private school buses might be taking a dangerous route home on South Street along the Arnold Arboretum.

During one hour of afternoon observation on May 16, the Gazette saw 17 public and private school buses use South Street between Washington and Bussey streets. Three of those buses nearly hit a stone wall by a margin of a few inches and several were going too fast to safely navigate the turns without crossing into the oncoming lane.

The stretch of South Street located south of Forest Hills and through the Arnold Arboretum is a winding, sloping road full of tight corners. While there are a few “Slow” signs, the Gazette did not see any posted speed limit signs during that recent visit. The two-way road has no shoulder, no sidewalks and is lined by low stone walls.

“This is a dangerous situation,” said Bernard Doherty, a resident of the Asticou/Martinwood neighborhood, which is directly adjacent to South Street and across the street from the State Lab building. “All the elements are there for a disaster.”

At the intersection of South and Washington streets, there is a “No trucks over 2.5 tons” sign, which some neighbors assume to mean no trucks or buses above a certain size.

“Signs like that limit the capacity of a truck. It has nothing to do with the weight [or size] of a truck,” BPS spokesperson Lee Maguire told the Gazette. “They’re designed to restrict trucks with heavy loads. They impose no restrictions on buses.”

That sign was installed a few months ago, for safety reasons, following City Councilor Matt O’Malley’s involvement, Doherty said.

“A number of residents had mentioned to me that they thought there should be a sign there,” O’Malley told the Gazette. “I made some calls to [the City’s Department of Public Works] and the residents were right, so we got the sign put back up.”

While Maguire said that it’s “perfectly legal” for buses to use that stretch of South Street, he did tell the Gazette he would “look into” the route. He did not return a Gazette call asking for more information on whether this route was temporary or whether there was a recent increase in bus traffic.

“These roads aren’t made to be truck-friendly,” Doherty said.