Mt. Vernon Street Design

In March 2014, the BRA began a public process to redesign Mt. Vernon Street in Columbia Point. The purpose of the project is the beautify Mt. Vernon Street and make it safe and comfortable for all users: walkers, bikers, drivers and transit passengers.

This redesign project will create what is known as a "25% Design" for Mt. Vernon Street. A 25% Design is a preliminary design that defines the basic armature of the street—for example, the number of vehicular, width of sidewalks, type of bicycle accommodations, location of landscaping and trees, street furniture, wayfinding, street lighting, bus stops and the like. A second phase of design, called the “100% Design”, would follow the 25% design and will produce detailed drawings that, when complete, would be ready to design for construction bidding.

Why now? For one, many transformational changes are under way on Columbia Point. The 184-unit University Residences has been approved 150 Mt. Vernon Street, located directly in front of the Corcoran Jennison Companies office building; and, a 278-unit housing development has been approved for 25 Morrissey Boulevard by the Shaws Supermarket. UMass Boston also recently purchased the former Bayside Exposition Center and plans to expand its campus to this site.

At the other end of Columbia Point, UMass Boston plans to grow the campus from 16,000 to 25,000 students by 2025. Mt. Vernon Street will be a key connector between the two parts of the UMass campus. Finally, the 40,000 square foot Edward M. Kennedy Center of Senate Studies opened in March 2015, promising to attract a new wave of visitors to the peninsula.

Public Involvement

To further develop the 25% Design for Mt. Vernon Street, and to create a design that reflected community aspirations, the BRA reached out extensively to residents, students, institutions, businesses. Through the course of the community planning process from March 2014 to March 2015, four community meetings were held on: 

  • March 27, 2014
  • May 29, 2014
  • November 5, 2014
  • March 10, 2015

A summary of each community meeting is provided below. PowerPoint presentations and other presentation materials from each of these meetings are posted on below under “Attachments.” 

March 27, 2014 Community Meeting

The first public meeting on the 25% design project took place on March 27 at the Corcoran Mullens Jennison Community Building at Harbor Point residences. Over 80 stakeholders from the Columbia Point community met with BRA planners and their consultants from Crosby Schlessinger Smallridge Associates and McMahon Associates to discuss future plans for the redesign of Mount Vernon Street on Columbia Point, Dorchester.

Following a brief introduction to the project by BRA staff, the consultant team presented some of the opportunities on Mount Vernon Street and baseline traffic analysis. A copy of the PowerPoint presentation is provided as an attachment on this web page. After the presentation, attendees then broke into smaller groups to discuss and brainstorm around safety, lighting, cycle tracks, improved sidewalks, and gateway opportunities. Some of the ideas from the younger attendees can be seen in the attachments to this web page. The PowerPoint presentation from this meeting, along with the notes from the breakout group discussions, are posted below. 

May 29, 2015 Community Meeting

A second public meeting took place on May 29, 2014. Over 35 neighborhood residents, workers, and community leaders convened, and BRA staff and representatives from the consultant team presented strategies for transforming the Mt. Vernon Street. Planners presented working design concepts for the street that included a protected sidewalk level cycle track, wider sidewalks, improved landscaping, and better connections to the Harborwalk. Following the presentations, meeting attendees broke into small groups to engage in a branding and identity exercise and to discuss street sections in more detail.

The PowerPoint presentation and notes from the May 29 meeting are posted below. 

November 5, 2014 Community Meeting

At the November 5th community meeting, which was held at the Corcoran Mullens Jennison Community Building on Mt. Vernon Street, a draft 25% design for Mt. Vernon Street was unveiled. A copy of the detailed 25% design presentation is included in the attachments below on this web page.

To accommodate higher traffic volumes at the western end of the street, the proposed street design maintains 3 to 4 vehicular travel lanes in the vicinity of Morrissey Boulevard. As one moves east and nears the Geiger Gibson health center, the design tapers down to 2 vehicular travel lanes in each direction. Throughout most of the length of the street, the proposed design includes a 5 foot wide, sidewalk level cycle track on each side of the street. A cycle track is a dedicated, protected lane intended exclusively for bicycles. The proposed cycle track would be located two feet inward of the curb. Next to the cycle track is a 4 foot landscape zone that includes landscaping and street furnishings. Finally, inward of the landscape zone is the sidewalk. The landscape zone partly serves to buffer the cycle track from the sidewalk, in order to reduce potential conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians.  

Comments about the proposed design were largely favorable. Many participants expressed support for the design intent to calm traffic on the street and to create safe accommodations for all modes. The proposed lighting and wayfinding strategies were met with a very favorable response. Still, there were some concerns. One concern was that the proposed design did not adequately address a problem of traffic queuing on Mt. Vernon Street, as residents and visitors arriving by car turn into Harbor Point Residences. Some concerns were also expressed about increased traffic congestion on the western end of the street owing to increased car parking by UMass students and employees at the former Bayside Exposition site. A summary of the breakout group meeting notes is provided below on this page.

March 10, 2015 Community Plan: Presentation of Final 25% Design Plans

At this meeting, BRA staff and its consultant team unveiled the final proposed 25% design. Key elements of this design included:   

  • Reduced roadway width to create more room pedestrians, bicyclists, greenery & street furniture    
  • Introduction of sidewalk level, protected bike lanes
  • More mid-block crossings and curb extensions to increase pedestrian safety
  • Establishment of “moments”, or nodes, to create interest along the street
  • Identity and Wayfinding strategies
  • Green strategies including street trees and storm water planters/rain gardens

The PowerPoint presentation from the March 10, 2015 community meeting, found below, elaborates on the many new features of the plan. Also included in the attachments below from the March 10 community meeting are a) the Compete 25% Design for the entire street; b) Enlargements of the 25% Design for 3 sequential sections of the street, from west to east; and c) A board summarizing the Signage and Wayfinding strategies. 

Next Steps 

The next steps toward realizing this new plan for Mt. Vernon Street include:

  1. Moving the 25% Preliminary Design to 100% Construction Ready Design Drawings;
  2. Constructing the new street based on the 100% design.

Funds have not yet been appropriated either for the 100% design or construction. Stay tuned to this website for updates!     

Questions

With questions, or for information you cannot find on this page, please contact John (Tad) Read, at john.read@boston.gov. Also, if you would like to be placed on our mailing list to get project updates and notifications, please just send Tad a quick message with your email address.

 

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