City’s Centre/South improvement plan putts along

Six years after it began, the City’s improvement plan for Centre and South streets continues to inch forward at a snail’s pace.

Boston Transportation Department (BTD) Director of Planning Vineet Gupta said the City will hold a community meeting for improvements to Monument Square “in a couple of months.” That’s a delay from his previous statement that the meeting would be held in late May or early June.

BTD met with merchants in Hyde Square in late May to discuss improvements to that area. Gupta said input was collected and that BTD will start to work to 25 percent design, which will take “at least six months.”

The improvements are part of the Jamaica Plain/South/Hyde/Jackson Design Projects. The project will stretch along Centre Street from Jackson Square to Hyde Square to Monument Square, then down South Street to Forest Hills. The project is intended to make sidewalks and crosswalks more pedestrian-friendly, improve traffic flow and add green space.

The improvements for Hyde Square would increase the width of the sidewalk around the Hyde Square rotary, expand the cement islands in the middle of Centre Street, add numerous trees, and install bike racks and public art. The improvements would lead to the loss of five parking spots.

BTD presented three designs for improvements at Monument Square earlier this year, all of which would implement “bump-out” crosswalks at several intersections to reduce the length of space to cross the street. All three plans would result the loss of one parking spot at the intersection of Centre and South streets.

Concept 1 would install two new traffic lights: one at the intersection of South and Centre streets and another at the intersection of Eliot and Centre streets. A new left-turn lane would be installed for drivers coming from South Street looking to travel towards the Arborway on Centre Street.

Concept 2 would install a traffic light at the intersection of Eliot and Centre streets. The stop sign on Centre Street at the intersection with South Street would remain, but drivers coming from the Arborway would only be able to turn right there. The area in front of the First Church in Jamaica Plain, Unitarian Universalist (UU) would turn into a two-way street for drivers from the Arborway looking to proceed further on Centre Street. That would result in the loss of five parking spots.

Concept 3 is similar to Concept 1, but would also add a right-turn lane on Centre Street in front of the Tedeschi’s Food Shop for drivers looking to continue on to the Arborway. The bus stop would be relocated.

Jamaica Plain/South/Hyde/Jackson Design Projects is part of the Centre and South Streets Streetscape and Transportation Action Plan that developed general guidelines for the look and feel of the Centre/South corridor, and aimed to fix some specific traffic trouble spots. The planning first began in 2009. For more information, visit bit.ly/1nZ4Nfk.

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