Summer St. crosswalk lacks traffic light

City to consider ways to slow cars on 4-lane road

Speeding vehicles often ignore pedestrians trying to cross Summer Street in the Fort Point Channel neighborhood. The crosswalks are faded and largely covered by new pavement. Speeding vehicles often ignore pedestrians trying to cross Summer Street in the Fort Point Channel neighborhood. The crosswalks are faded and largely covered by new pavement. (Christina Pazzanese for The Boston Globe)
By Christina Pazzanese
Globe Correspondent / August 15, 2009

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As more old warehouses are revived as offices and restaurants, the once-ghostly streets in the Fort Point Channel area now teem with foot traffic.

“I’m writing in the hope that you can help bring some attention to a dangerous crosswalk in the Fort Point Channel neighborhood,’’ a reader writes. “It crosses Summer Street just before the bridge over A Street [in front of 300 Summer St.] There’s a crosswalk and a ‘pedestrian crossing’ sign, both of which most drivers ignore.

“As business activity in the neighborhood increases, so do the number of pedestrians crossing Summer,’’ the reader said. “The four-lane divided street is no longer just a high-speed connection through no-man’s land to South Boston.

“But traffic continues to move at 40 to 50 [miles per hour], and drivers have no regard for pedestrians who are often stranded in the divider as traffic blows by on both sides of them,’’ the reader writes. “A more prominent crosswalk combined with traffic calming measures (traffic light with walk signal, raised crosswalk, etc.) would help improve pedestrian safety at this location.’’

A Globe correspondent has crossed Summer Street at this crosswalk and at another one nearby, at Melcher Street, many times. During the work week, taxis, delivery trucks, postal vehicles, and cars, as well as MBTA and sightseeing buses, appear eager to hit the gas when they see the wide-open horizon by the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

The four lanes are almost impossible to cross uninterrupted without the safety of a pedestrian walk signal and stoplight, as is present at Melcher Street. Even there, drivers blast through red lights with alarming frequency.

Another problem: Both crosswalks were faded and largely covered over by fresh pavement, making them hard for drivers to see.

The Boston Transportation Department has agreed to take another look at the Summer Street area, spokeswoman Tracey Ganiatsos said in an e-mail to GlobeWatch.

“BTD’s engineering division will survey the area to determine if there are any additional improvements that we can make that will slow down traffic,’’ she said.

Area crosswalks are not in ideal shape since a contractor for the Boston Water and Sewer Commission did some trench work on Summer Street in June, she said. That work is now done.

“The crosswalk at Summer and Melcher streets is on the schedule to be refurbished this season as part of the city’s annual pavement marking project. In addition, any pavement markings in disrepair due to the trenching work is the responsibility of [the Water and Sewer Commission] and their contractor,’’ Ganiatsos said.

The Transportation and Public Works departments will ensure that both parties complete the repairs, she said.

When the city repaves local streets, road markings such as crosswalks and center dividing lines are normally repainted within two weeks after paving, though wet weather can delay that process, she said. When utility companies or other private contractors do road work on city streets, the Transportation Department requires them to replace any disturbed markings or equipment within 72 hours of completion.

In addition, public works inspectors monitor privately done excavations to make sure they comply with permits. “Any utility or private contractor, once notified to replace a lane marking, who does not comply, will be subject to possible denial of new permits until the lane markings have been repaired or replaced,’’ Ganiatsos said.

The Public Works Department and the Boston Transportation Department share responsibility for overseeing any work on city streets, Ganiatsos said.


Thomas J. Tinlin


Boston Transportation Dept.

1 City Hall Square, Room 721

Boston, MA 02201-2026