The City held its second JP/Rox transportation meeting on March 22 at English High School with residents mingling with City officials and transportation analysts and discussing their priorities, which included traffic calming, creating more connections across the Orange Line track, and making the main streets more attractive and inviting.
The meeting, which is part of the JP/Rox transportation planning process for the study area from Forest Hills to Egleston Square to Jackson Square, was organized as a community workshop.
The Plan: JP/Rox study in 2016 and 2017 had already discussed transportation at length as part of its planning. Major points of discussion in that process were about cycling and pedestrian infrastructure and safety, public transit, traffic and parking, and public space enhancement.
A series of meetings and planning this year, as formally named JP/Rox Transportation Action Plan (TAP), will create an action plan for improving the JP/Rox area’s present and future transportation network.
Josh Weiland from the City reported that in the first TAP meeting in Fall 2017, the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) heard comments from residents about how development will increase traffic, concerns about spending too much time on expensive traffic remodeling. BTD also heard how the City should focus on designing projects—focusing on finding a balance for parking and the PLAN: JP/Rox made transportation recommendations—and that these should be used as a baseline.
Howard Stein Hudson is the transportation consultant that is asking residents for specific feedback about where problem areas are in the neighborhood in terms of traffic and mobility.
“We’d love to get your very specific comments about where you see problem areas on the map,” Pete Stidman of Howard Stein Hudson said. “We have a certain amount of resources, and we want to focus those resources on results that will affect the neighborhood. Doing a parking analysis of every street in the neighborhood might not be necessary, it might be better to focus on where you have concerns.”
The goals of the planning are to create more mobility choices, increase safety, manage congestion, support livability and green space, and maximize land use that shortens trips, and therefore reduces the congestion or need to travel.
The municipal departments involved in the project include the Boston Transportation Department, the Boston Planning and Development Agency, the Office of Neighborhood Services, Public Works Department, Department of Neighborhood Development, and the Disabilities Commission. The consultant team consists of Howard Stein Hudson, Fitzgerald & Halliday Inc., and NBBJ. The planning project will also coordinate with state departments of MBTA, the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT), and the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Residents were given an opportunity to map out their problems and ideas by markers and sticky notes around maps in the room. For anyone who was not at the meeting, they can do the same online at wikimapping.com/wikimap/JPRoxTAP.html.
Residents asked if the team would be taking into consideration the upcoming developments that will soon be online in the area. Carolyn Royce, who is a member of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, wanted to know if they would be taking into consideration the potential renovation of Arborway Yard, which would replace the temporary busy yard with a permanent one with residential housing adjacent to it. Weiland responded that the details on that particular project are still unknown, and that the plan may not get down to that “micro” scale.
Resident Eric Harot, when summarizing the comments of his breakout group, said that his group felt that most of the cars that park in the study area do not actually live in the neighborhood, so the work for traffic calming should be done with that in mind and that commuters should be charged for parking.
Stitson said that the Howard Stein Hudson team will be working on turning the resident-identified problems into solutions, and presenting solutions to vote on for the next meeting.
The transportation priority projects will be selected by hearing public comments and using existing and future conditions analysis, existing planning, and best practices in order to suggest projects back to the community to hear their preferences. They will evaluate what solutions are feasible and could be combined, and which solutions are redundant.
There will be other pop-up events scattered throughout the year, but there will be public meetings three and four in the summer and fall 2018 respectively. After the fifth public meeting in winter 2018, an action plan will be created.