Opinions split on Perkins St. and Parkman Drive improvement plan

The state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) held another meeting on the Perkins Street and Francis Parkman Drive improvement plan, with attendees splitting on what should be done.

Some attendees advocated for major changes to the current plan, including adding protected bike lanes, while others pressed for the project to be actually done, especially a crosswalk being installed on Perkins Street.

About 35 people attended the Oct. 1 meeting at the Arnold Arboretum’s Hunnewell Building. The meeting was one of three that DCR will have on improving safety and access for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists to the parklands and parkways of the Emerald Necklace in Jamaica Plain.

DCR was scheduled to hold a meeting on Centre Street from the VFW Parkway to Murray Circle on Oct. 7, after the Gazette deadline, and will hold a meeting on the Arborway between Eliot Street and South Street, including Kelley Circle and Murray Circle, on Oct. 14. The meetings are co-sponsored by the Emerald Necklace Conservancy and state Reps. Jeffrey Sanchez and Liz Malia and state Sens. Sonia Chang-Diaz and Michael Rush.

DCR presented a plan during the Oct. 1 meeting that would widen and lengthen the medians on Perkins Street; install a traffic light at the intersection and bump-out the curb on the right side of Parkman Drive; place crosswalks at the intersection and another crosswalk on Perkins Street east of Cabot Estate’s driveway, which has been a priority for residents living there; and build two separate waking paths along Perkins Street that would allow access to the Jamaica Pond looping path.

Seth Kruckenberg took issue with the current plan, saying despite several years of effort, there are “glaring problems.” He said the medians should be removed, that the crosswalks should be elevated and that a protected cycle lane should be built. Several attendees agreed with him about the bike lanes being built, while another person also suggested that the sidewalk on the northern side of Perkins Street be widened.

Local state Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez interjected, saying that there is a limited budget and the plan is the result of a “thoughtful process.”

“This is a long time coming. It is tight. This could easily go beyond what we have allocated,” he said.

The representative and several attendees who were advocating for the bike lanes had a back-and-forth about the possibility of adding to the plan with the current budget.

Anne Glickman, who lives at Cabot Estate, stressed the need for the project to be done and for a crosswalk to be placed on Perkins Street. She gave the Gazette copies of letters sent to local elected officials dating back to 1997, requesting that a crosswalk be installed on Perkins Street and how dangerous it is for residents of Cabot Estate to cross to Jamaica Pond.

Ken Petraglia of The BETA Group, Inc., which is the contractor working on the improvement project, responded to the suggestion to removing the medians by saying not to underestimate the value of them. He said medians help calm traffic and safeguard against head-on collisions.

To review the meeting’s presentation, visit 1.usa.gov/1VBBGi0. To comment on the plan, visit 1.usa.gov/1jKBIZ8, call 617-626-4973 or email [email protected]

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