Transportation plan tackles Boston Seaport District’s traffic woes

As the Innovation District grows so does the traffic congestion in the area.  PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
As the Innovation District grows so does the traffic congestion in the area.
PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

As the Boston Seaport District continues its rapid business, residential and cultural expansion, city and state officials are honing in on the neighborhood’s growing traffic troubles.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino joined state transportation officials and business leaders Wednesday to announce a transportation plan that will ease motor vehicle congestion in the waterfront district.

“The Innovation District has become a busy and thriving mix of business, industry, cultural attractions, restaurants and residences,” said Menino. “The steps we are taking today – and planning for the future – to connect it with the rest of Boston will make it even more attractive and accessible to companies, their employees, residents and visitors.”

The plan will create ferry service between South Boston and East Boston in 2014, conduct vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle counts to determine the most effective lane configurations, and install “smart parking” sensors on Seaport Boulevard and Congress Street that will use a phone app to direct drivers to available parking spaces.

Specifically, officials said they will improve traffic conditions by:

  • Creating and enforcing Don’t Block the Box areas at the junctions of Seaport Boulevard and Sleeper Street, as well as Atlantic Avenue and Summer Street
  • Restriping the road surface on Moakley Bridge, a major route in and out of the district, to guide motorists to travel lanes to I-93 and other destinations, preventing tie-ups caused by confusion
  • Installing, by the end of November, dynamic message signs that will provide drivers with accurate information on traffic to allow them to choose alternate routes
  • Coordinating with Massport and MassDOT to take steps to mitigate potential traffic issues posed by upcoming construction work in the Callahan Tunnel. This could include construction-related openings to general traffic of both the Bypass Road/Haul Road to motorists driving from the Southeast Expressway (I-93) to Logan Airport, and the HOV ramp to the Ted Williams Tunnel
  • With the assistance of a $1.28 million federal Department of Transportation grant, procuring two ferries and implementing ferry service between South Boston and East Boston in 2014
  • Studying traffic signal timing and lane configurations at Atlantic Avenue and Seaport Boulevard, Sleeper Street and Seaport Boulevard, and 63 other signalized intersections located along the Greenway and in the Innovation District. The results of the study will ensure that the most up-to-date motor vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle counts are used to optimize signal timings and determine the most effective lane configurations.
  • Installing “smart parking” sensors, in coordination with Massport, on Seaport Boulevard and Congress Street that will use a phone app to show drivers available parking spaces to prevent them from driving around looking for a metered spot.
  • In partnership with Light Boston, Inc, and in an effort to improve the pedestrian experience, working toward illuminating the Northern Avenue bridge with architectural decorative LED lights by the end of this month
  • Continuing the design phase of the rehabilitation of the Northern Avenue bridge, including the establishment of stakeholder meetings in the coming months to complete the environmental review process
  • Adding additional Hubway bike share stations throughout the Innovation District next spring

Efforts are also underway to improve public transit serving the area.

The MBTA will assess and improve service in the Innovation District on key commuter bus lines such as the 4 and 7 within the next year, officials said.

Officials said they believe the measures will keep Boston competitive as a top convention and tourism destination.

“People love coming here, and love working (in the Seaport District),” said James E. Rooney, executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority. “It is one of the most important economic centers in the country.”

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



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