DCR: Parkman/Perkins project to begin in spring; other road improvements advancing

The long-awaited improvement project at the intersection of Francis Parkman Drive and Perkins Street appears finally to be ready to get underway, as a contractor has been selected and construction is expected to begin this spring, according to state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) spokesperson Troy Wall.

Meanwhile, other improvements are underway or in the pipeline for other area DCR roadways.

“The Department of Conservation and Recreation continually works with members of the public, state and local officials, and advocacy groups to ensure its parkways are safe and easily accessible for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy and benefit from,” said Wall.

People have been advocating for improvements at the intersection of Parkman Drive and Perkins Street for many years, including residents at Cabot Estate asking for a crosswalk since at least 1997. DCR has held a series of meetings on the project, including in 2013 and 2015. At a meeting in April of last year, DCR 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.

The project was supposed to start last summer, but was delayed after the Boston Conservation Commission lacked a quorum to review it.

The Parkman/Perkins proposal is part of the DCR’s 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.

According to Wall, traffic improvement work along Centre Street is at 90 percent complete at multiple locations (Rambler Road, Westchester Road, Whitcomb Avenue, and Allandale Street). The improvements include the installation of ADA compliant ramps and rapid flashing beacons at the crossings. Upcoming work includes the repaving of Centre Street, new painted pavement markings, as well as upgrades to the mid-block crossing to the bus stop between Allandale Street and Whitcomb Avenue.

According to Wall, DCR is working with a contractor to finalize concepts for improvements along the Arborway between Kelley Circle and Murray Circle. DCR is currently in the process of scheduling a public meeting in the coming months to present the plans.

Meanwhile, another DCR roadway is drawing criticism. Jamaica Plain resident Patrick Barron sent an email to the Gazette and DCR asking for more to be done at the crosswalk on the Arborway across for the Arnold Arboretum.

“Now that over three years have passed since the public meeting about the dangerous Arborway Crossing, and more time since the DCR made public its findings that the crossing is indeed dangerous and needs to be improved, I wonder why so little has been done so far,” he said in the email. “The ‘temporary’ warning signs in the middle of the roadway are wearing out and should at the very least be replaced. Has a permanent solution to this problem site been abandoned?”

According to Wall, the primary factor impacting safety regarding the Arborway crossing was impaired sight lines of oncoming traffic due to the placement of the median fence. Last year, the fence was relocated to improve motorist visibility.

According to Wall, further improvements are scheduled this summer, which includes the installation of a bump out (curb extension) and enhanced pavement markings. DCR will also inspect the road safety signage, and will seek out a replacement if necessary.

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