By Beth Treffeisen
Special to the Gazette
The long-awaited improvement project at the intersection of Francis Parkman Drive and Perkins Street cleared a key hurdle last month as the Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) approved the proposal.
The Parkman/Perkins proposal is part of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation Department (DCR) parkway improvement project. The other two sections are 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.
DCR held a meeting in Jamaica Plain on April 11 on the Parkman/Perkins proposal and presented a design that 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.
The project presented at the BLC at a hearing held on April 25 showed little change from the JP meeting.
The applicant Rob Lowell representing the DCR proposed a curb realignment; bump-out of curb, installation of accessible crossing elements, accessible parkland path, route and stairs; installation of new mast-arms and traffic signals.
A new island in Perkins Street will assist with traffic calming, by directing and slowing traffic, and will be planted with street trees.
“We are trying to create desire lines for pedestrians coming to the park land,” said Lowell. “This project is trying to promote pedestrian crossing.”
The project also includes restoration of parkland, with trees, retaining walls, stairs, paths and lawn.
“It began in concept around 2010 on Perkin Street to put a pedestrian crosswalk there,” said Lowell. “This will have new bicycle lane stripping that narrows the road creating a calming element.”
The commission approved the application with provisos that the applicant use a cobbled median, design a consistent height on retaining walls so they can be used for sitting, and acknowledge desire line on the area to the southeast of the intersection.
The “desire line” can be done with either steps to accommodate the line or with walls/shrubs to prevent people from trampling the landscape.
Large trees have been protected and trees that will be removed for the project are either ailing, smaller, or not considered significant. Trees to be removed were coordinated with the City arborist.
Sarah Freeman, a resident of Jamaica Plain, was pleased to see these new upgrades.
“I wanted to share my support,” said Freeman. “I’m delighted to see this come forward with safety and bicycle improvements.”
The project is expected to have most of the construction completed by year-end, with landscaping to be completed spring 2018.