Residents to talk bike lanes on Seaver Street Thursday

December 4, 2013 03:10 PM

By Patrick Rosso

Seaver Street, one of the busiest thoroughfares in Roxbury, could see a number of changes to improve safety and traffic flow on the roadway.

A public meeting, sponsored by Boston Bikes, will be held Thursday, from 6 p.m.-8 p.m., at the United House of Prayer for All People, at 206 Seaver St.

Thursday’s meeting will concentrate on the “buffered” bike lanes proposed for the roadway. The lanes, which are more protected than a standard bike lane, but less intrusive than a protected cycle track, are expected to run the length of the roadway from Blue Hill Avenue to Walnut Avenue.

Although the bike lanes are just a component of the approximately $6-million project, they have been a sticking point for designers and some residents.

“At the first meeting some bike advocates called for a more protected lane,” explained Bill Egan, chief civil engineer for the city’s Public Works Department. “We looked at a cycle track and there was some resistance from the public about it being on the residential side of the street and how it might impact traffic, parking, and buses. We’ve been going back and forth to find a design that is acceptable.”

While the bike lanes have caused some frustration, they are just a small component of the project that will reduce traffic lanes, improve signals, and revamp the asphalt that sees an estimated 40,000 vehicles daily.

“What we are hoping to do is address the roadway in a way that balances the needs of motorists, bikes, and pedestrians while also improving safety and road conditions for all modes,” explained Matt Mayrl, chief of staff for Public Works.

Including all modes of transit has been a priority for the department that adheres to the city’s Complete Street model, which is now used in all projects including the recent proposed redesign of Dudley Square.

“We want to use the public space in a way that makes it accessible to all modes and gives options to people,” said Mayrl. “It’s a balancing act.”

Although a final design is still in the works, no parking is expected to be lost as a result of the project.

Along with the addition of the improved bike lanes, the sidewalk on the Franklin Park side of the road is expected to be redone and widened. Lighting along the road will also be improved and the traffic signals will be better timed to compliment traffic flow.

One of the biggest physical changes to the roadway, aside from repaving it, will be the reduction of it from three lanes in each direction to two in each direction. Typically the third lane on the residential side of the road is used as a double parking lane, which is illegal and dangerous for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

Planners hope the adjustments will slow down drivers who often speed down the road and through the dense neighborhood that surrounds it.

“We expect the cars will go slower as we tighten the lanes,” added Mayrl.

The project, which first started in 2010 and held its first community meeting in 2012, is expected, pending weather and community input, to begin construction by mid-2014.

More information about Thursday's meeting can be found here.

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