By Beth Treffeisen
Special to the Gazette
The five neighborhoods that will join the Neighborhood Slow Streets program in 2017 were announced July 20, leaving many communities who applied disappointed.
The Neighborhood Slow Streets program is a City effort to reduce speeds and improve the quality of life on Boston’s local streets. Two pilot programs are already underway in the Talbot-Norfolk Triangle in Dorchester and the Stonybrook neighborhood of Jamaica Plain. Construction work is anticipated to begin in August or September.
The Boston Transportation Department (BTD) received applications from 47 different communities across 16 of Boston’s neighborhoods to expand the program.
The five neighborhoods that will work with the BTD and Public Works Departments include Chinatown, Grove/ Quincy Corner, Highland Park, Mount Hope/ Canterbury and West of Washington Coalition.
“So many communities stepped up to partner with the City on this important work,” said Chris Osgood, chief of streets and acting commissioner of Public Works. “Providing a clear, simple way to participate and a transparent selection process are examples of the ways that we continue to embrace the ethos of Go Boston 2030 as we implement that plans many projects and polices.”
Each proposed area went through a scoring process that considered where vulnerable populations live and where more crashes were occurring.
BTD used objective criteria that included the number of households with youth under 18, the percentage of the population aged 65 or older, the number of crashes per mile within the area, and the presence of parks, libraries, and transit.
The chosen communities were among the top scoring of the nearly 50 zones evaluated.
When completed, the selected Neighborhood Slow Streets areas will be equipped with visual and physical cues to slow drivers to 20 mph, making each street feel more inviting for people of all ages who are walking, playing, or bicycling.
In Jamaica Plain, the residents of Louders Lane and adjacent streets submitted an application with support from the Jamaica Hills Association.
“The Louders Lane people are disappointed at not being chosen, but realize that there are other streets in the city that also need calming,” wrote Celeste Walker from the JHA. “It is hoped that the city will take a closer look at all the submissions and try to implement even minimal traffic calming measures.”
Two other applications in Jamaica Plain included Central Jamaica Plain that runs between Green Street and Boylston Street and Centre Street and Lamartine Street. The other application included extending the Stonybrook pilot slow streets zone that would continue up Washington Street, cross over Iffley Road and follow Franklin Park back down.
This past May, Mayor Martin Walsh announced a commitment to increase Boston’s Vision Zero investment by $1 million in fiscal year 2018 to $4.1 million, dedicated to Boston’s Neighborhood Slow Streets program. Before the investment, only up to three neighborhoods were guaranteed a spot in the program.
Information about applying for the next round of Neighborhood Slow Streets zones will be made available in early 2018.