Positive reaction to Parkman/Perkins project, but a strong desire for the other phases

April 14, 2017
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Residents’ reaction was mostly positive for improvement project at the intersection of Francis Parkman Drive and Perkins Street during an April 11 meeting held by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation Department (DCR).

But several attendees also pushed DCR to complete the other two parts of the parkway improvement project: Centre Street, from VFW Parkway to Murray Circle; and the Arborway between Eliot Street and South Street, including Kelley Circle and Murray Circle. All three sections of the project have long been discussed, with DCR holding a series of meetings in the fall of 2015 on them.

About 50 people attended the April 11 meeting at the Hunnewell Building at the Arnold Arboretum.

DCR presented a design for the Parkman/Perkins improvement project that appeared similar to earlier iterations, but with some small tweaks. The design calls for a traffic light to be installed at the intersection, a new grass median with trees on a portion of Perkins Street, a curb bump-out on the southeast side of the intersection, an Americans with Disability Act-complaint path from Parkman Drive down to Jamaica Pond, and a crosswalk with a traffic signal at the Cabot Estate, as well as other changes. People have been advocating for a crosswalk at Cabot Estate since at least 1997.

Some attendees wanted more bicyclist-safety features, such as a protected bike lane, while one person suggested another curb bump-out on the southwest side of the intersection to prevent cars from driving fast from Perkins onto Parkman. But many attendees were pleased with the design and were happy that it appeared to be finally going forward.

“We’ve been doing this for a long time. I’m excited to see this progression and a commitment to do this,” said JP resident Sarah Freeman.

Freeman did ask for any newly planted tree be watered for two years, but officials were noncommittal about forcing contractors to do so.

Michael Reiskind, who is a Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council member, asked for a pedestrian path be built from the intersection to the Francis Parkman Memorial, which he said was the impetus for the whole project. Officials said they would look into it.

The timeline for the project is for it to be presented to the Boston Landmarks Commission at the end of the month, followed with presentations to the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Boston Conservation Commission. The project will be put out to bid this summer with construction starting in the fall.

Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council chair Kevin Moloney said he is “encouraged” that DCR is progressing with the project, which he thinks is “pretty good.” But, he said, he would like to see DCR move on with the other projects, as those roads are dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists

Rob Lowell of DCR said that the design process for the Centre Street section “has finished” and that the project should “jell” this year. He said that the Arborway section has two competing designs that are 25 percent complete and that the Murray Circle area is presenting a challenge for accommodating pedestrians and bicyclists.

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