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BPDA releases draft Allston-Brighton Mobility Plan recommendations for community feedback

Nov 18, 2020

Draft plan provides roadmap to improve mobility and quality of life for neighborhood residents

Following two years of public engagement, the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) has released a draft Allston-Brighton Mobility Plan for community feedback. The draft plan builds on the goals identified in Go Boston 2030 and Imagine Boston 2030, presenting over 50 specific recommendations that will expand the transit and bike networks, increase walkability, enhance the Main Street and neighborhood street experience, and simplify intersections for all users. The creation of the draft plan is guided by more than 1,200 public comments, the result of over 20 opportunities for input.

The draft plan responds to the continued growth of the Allston and Brighton neighborhoods which has led to increased pressure on the transportation network. There is currently over 10 million square feet of Article 80 development either under review, permitted, or under construction in the study area, and 70 percent of that planned development is residential.

“The people who live, work, and visit the Allston and Brighton neighborhoods deserve access to safe, efficient, and sustainable transportation options,” said BPDA Director Brian Golden. “For the past two years, we’ve collaborated closely with community members, elected officials, and many stakeholders on how the Allston-Brighton transportation network should continue to evolve and respond to the substantial growth of these neighborhoods. This draft plan lays out comprehensive, wide-ranging recommendations that will accommodate and support this growth for many years to come.”

Based on community feedback, the BPDA establishes nine goals in support of the planning study’s vision:

  • Increase safety for all modes

  • Allocate space in streets to accommodate diverse users

  • Increase the sustainability of the transportation system

  • Improve equity in transportation

  • Provide priority accommodations for buses

  • Create a more attractive and comfortable biking and walking environment

  • Enhance parking and permit regulations

  • Accommodate local and regional growth

  • Identify opportunities for new development to mitigate transportation impacts.

A keystone of the draft plan involves peak hour bus priority lanes extending from Parsons Street near Oak Square to Union Square, connecting to the recently installed bus priority lanes on Brighton Avenue. The bus priority lanes would improve transit service in an area of Allston-Brighton that is currently underserved by transit. It is estimated that the priority bus lanes would reduce eastbound travel times by up to 11 minutes and westbound travel times by up to 6 minutes. Over the longer term, the draft plan envisions priority bus lanes continuing from Union Square along Cambridge Street to the Charles River and to a future West Station in Beacon Yards.

The plan also proposes to expand the network of separated bike lanes, or bike lanes physically separated from vehicular travel lanes. Research data show that more people are willing to bicycle on separated bike lanes.

A video presentation of the draft plan is available on the BPDA’s website. In addition to the online video presentation, the BPDA will be launching virtual public meetings and “chats with a planner” to explain and answer questions about the plan.

Virtual Open House: A 10 minute draft plan overview followed by Q&A

Online Chats with a Planner: Discuss the plan with BPDA and City of Boston staff

The BPDA is also making available an online feedback tool which allows the public to review and comment directly on the plan online. Residents, workers, and neighborhood stakeholders are encouraged to review the plan and submit feedback by January 15, 2021. The BPDA anticipates releasing the final plan and recommendations in early spring 2021.

The planning process is the result of a cross departmental effort alongside partners from the Boston Transportation Department, the Mayor’s Disabilities Commission, the Public Works Department, and the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, and external partners including the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the MBTA, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC).

The draft plan prioritizes several actionable recommendations targeting enhanced mobility, access, and safety for people traveling in Allston and Brighton by all modes for implementation beginning in 2021. These include:

  • Harvard Avenue: Design and install tactical bus stop relocation, curb extensions, and short term curbside use plan.

  • Brighton Avenue: Plan, design, and install flexible curb zones.

  • Franklin Street Pedestrian Bridge Develop, design, and install lighting and public art improvements.

  • Oak Square: Evaluate, design, and install 2 crosswalks, 1 drop off zone, and 1 delivery zone.

  • Washington Street: Design and construct two enhanced crosswalks.

  • Cleveland Circle: Design and construct tactical plazas.

  • Leo Birmingham Parkway: Design and construct tactical/temporary repurposing of north carriageway for two-way bike path.

  • Soldiers Field Road: Construct an at-grade crossing at Everett Street/Soldiers Field Road.

“The Allston Brighton Health Collaborative and its Transportation Committee have worked closely with the Mobility Study team to ensure that the plan is transparent and accessible during this time of virtual engagement,” said Anna Leslie, Director of the Allston Brighton Health Collaborative “We are pleased to see our recommendations of a video introduction, closed captioning, and translation included, and we are eager to continue our collaborative work with the team to improve mobility equity.”

Under the draft plan, new development in the neighborhood will be expected to either contribute financially or design and build many of the improvements recommended by the plan. The Action Plan identifies over a dozen projects to be carried out during the next four years that will require developer contributions.

The BPDA is currently also developing a plan for the Western Avenue Corridor area, anticipated for completion in early 2021. The Western Avenue Corridor Study will inform recommendations for new zoning for the study area while also recommending public realm and transportation improvements. Transportation recommendations will focus on Western Avenue between Market Street and Barry’s Corner, and Telford Street and Everett Street between Western Avenue and Lincoln Street. Accordingly, the Allston-Brighton Mobility Plan will cross reference the Western Avenue Corridor Study for the transportation recommendations for these locations.

Under Mayor Walsh, the BPDA is leading an unprecedented number of planning studies alongside the community, each guided by Imagine Boston 2030, the first city-wide master plan in 50 years aimed at guiding growth. In addition to the Allston-Brighton Mobility Study and Western Avenue Corridor Study, there are neighborhood planning studies moving forward in Charlestown, Downtown, Dorchester’s Glover’s Corner, Mattapan, Newmarket and East Boston, and since 2014, planning guidelines have been passed for PLAN: JP/Rox, PLAN: South Boston Dorchester Avenue, and PLAN: Nubian Square. The South Boston Seaport Strategic Transit Plan is also identifying specific mobility recommendations to improve the operations and capacity of the transit network serving Boston’s Seaport District.

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