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Safety is BPDA’s top priority for Bennington St; Squares + Corridors framework released

Here’s what I’ve learned after connecting with BPDA’s East Boston transportation planner, Nick Schmidt.

They found that 2 out of 3 drivers are speeding along Bennington St (current limit is 30 mph, which is higher than the citywide limit of 25 mph) and that more than 1 in 3 crashes involved a pedestrian or cyclist. Moreover, 3 out of the 5 severe crash hot spots are on the street.

By reducing travel lanes and speeds, their main goal is to eliminate crashes. For your reference, here are the charts that he shared with me:

In speaking with your neighbors, traffic getting worse was the biggest concern about these changes. BPDA’s simulations of pre-pandemic volumes combined with anticipated additional trips from new development found that in the worst-case scenario the impact of these safety changes would result in roughly similar roadway operations. It’s worth noting that the BPDA plans to preserve turn lanes at Bennington Street’s main bottlenecks at Neptune Road ("East Boston Tomorrow", pg 114) and Saratoga Street ("East Boston Tomorrow", pg 102).

Once the changes are made, it’s expected that the people who live outside of the neighborhood and currently use Bennington St to get to/from the tunnel would use Boardman St instead. To help visualize the new traffic patterns, I’ve put together this annotated diagram of the proposed changes around Orient Heights Square:

It’s worth noting that at least according to Google Maps estimates for morning rush hour, using Boardman St appears to be comparable to using Bennington St.

To help complement official diagrams from the BPDA, I’ve put together some cross-sectional diagrams to illustrate existing and future conditions: The tool that I used makes it easy for you to “remix” these designs and create your own—directions in the link.

Squares + Corridors update

While BPDA was originally going to release draft zoning recommendations tonight for Squares + Corridors (previously, only map changes were provided), last night BPDA provided a preview of the types of regulations they are considering as a part of the city-wide Squares + Streets initiative

I anticipate that Bennington Street will likely fall under "Main Street Mixed Use" (S2) or "Active Main Street" (S3) on the scale of proposed district types:

The specific regulations, including lot coverage and height, beyond a high-level framework hasn't yet been shared. We expect to ge those details once the East Boston Squares + Corridors meeting has been rescheduled. If you are interested in attending, you can register for the meeting here.

What do you think? Do you feel that BPDA’s explanation sufficiently addresses your concerns? If not, what else would you like to see? I’d love to hear from you!

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