Crossing fixes green lighted

David Taber

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PONDSIDE—Work on long-anticipated improvements to the intersection of Eliot Street and the Jamaicaway could begin as early as next spring, Department of Conservation and Recreation spokesperson Wendy Fox told the Gazette this week.

DCR has allocated $170,000 from its capital budget to install a new pedestrian-activated traffic signal and new signs, roadway realignment, median enhancements and handicapped access improvements, according to a DCR press release.

DCR is soliciting construction bids this month, the press release says.

“The Eliot Street crossing will provide the neighborhood and other park users a protected and safe way to conveniently reach one of Boston’s most beloved parks,” said Julie Crockford, president of the JP-based non-profit Emerald Necklace Conservancy in a press release. “The project exemplifies what we can accomplish in a public-private partnership…”

Plans for the intersection redesign are the result of a $150,000, ENC-driven process funded by state and private dollars. In addition to designs for the Eliot Street crossing, proposals were developed for a raised crossing on Parkman Drive between Jamaica Pond and the Francis Parkman Memorial area and improvements to the Kelley Circle Rotary where Parkman and the Jamaicaway meet.

Leveraging the public and private “partnership” funds to develop the design made the project “a good investment for DCR to finish up,” Crockford told the Gazette.

ENC initially applied for the DCR partnership funding in 2008 and
construction was originally intended to start in 2009, but “DCR was always committed to it,” state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez told the Gazette.

Sánchez got funding for the improvements included in a 2008 environmental bond bill, but many of the bond items authorized in bond bills are never funded, and DCR is moving ahead with funds from its capital budget, Fox and Sánchez told the Gazette.

Crockford said there is a slim chance that other proposed Jamaica Pond area improvements will move forward under request for proposals DCR is putting out. “Respondents are being asked to respond to all three,” and will be able to begin work on the other projects “if, by some miracle, the bid is low,” she said.

Crockford said the ENC heard from community members about another trouble spot on the Jamaicaway—the intersection with Perkins Street—at meetings it held in 2009 to review its proposals. While that project was outside of the scope of ENC’s efforts, “We suggested that DCR take that on,” Crockford said. A pedestrian was hit by a car at that intersection and seriously injured Sept. 10. [See related article.]

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