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Crosswalks and parking on the minds of Uphams Corner residents as city discusses roadway improvements

Posted by Patrick Rosso  December 12, 2012 01:09 PM

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A number of roadway and accessibility improvements will be made to a stretch of Columbia Road from Hancock Street to Dudley Street in Uphams Corner, representatives of Boston’s Public Works Department told area residents Tuesday night.

The $3-million project, slated to begin in the fall of 2013, will revamp the stretch that runs in front of the Strand Theater and to the Old North Burying Ground.

Although a design has not yet been created by the department, preliminary ideas include improvements to pedestrian access, upgrading traffic signals, repairing sidewalks, new trees, new street lights, and new signage.

Zach Wassmounth, a principal civil engineer for the department, was in front of residents Tuesday night at the Cape Verdean Adult Day Health Center on Hancock Street to lay out the details of the project and to take community input.

“One of our concerns is how long these changes will last,” said Nancy Conrad, an area resident.

Maintenance was a hot topic Tuesday, with many voicing support for replacing the neighborhood’s “classic” brick sidewalks with stronger, more durable concrete sidewalks.

“The bricks are nice, but this is an area that is dense and there is a lot of wear and tear,” said Fernando Bossa, an area resident and community organizer. “Whatever comes down it needs to last.”

From stronger sidewalks to tree-pits with live trees, residents highlighted what they thought needed to be improved.

“I sometimes feel all of Uphams Corner should be a crosswalk,” said Joan Tighe, an area resident. “People just walk out [into the street], it’s a real problem.”

Increasing pedestrian safety was also a priority for residents.

Some suggested a new crosswalk be built between the Uphams Corner Bank of America branch and the Uphams House of Pizza.

“It’s unsafe and unwelcoming to cross Columbia Road,” said Adam Gibbons who works in the neighborhood.

The new crosswalk was touted by many as a potential easy fix for pedestrians, but the re-timing of the traffic signals was also proposed as a possible solution to help pedestrians safely cross and help traffic flow.

Residents and Public Works also reviewed the neighborhood’s assets, including the public parking lots located off Dudley Street.

Some said often people don’t know the lots are there and have to battle over spaces on the street.

“Parking is a huge issue in Uphams Corner,” said Conrad. “If we want more businesses here we have to have somewhere for customers to park.”

“The lighting [in the lots] needs to be brighter,” said Bossa. “It’s too dark.”

Wassmounth said Public Works is reviewing the potential of signs being placed in the area to alert drivers to the lots and that improvements are slated for the area’s streetlights.

Although there was general interest among residents, with many saying the improvements are badly needed, the project is in the very early stages of development.

Wassmounth said that over the winter Public Works will begin preparing a concept design and will be in front of the community sometime in early-spring to present their preliminary design. Construction, according to Wassmounth, is expected to begin sometime in Oct. 2013.

Prior to the meeting Wassmounth said Public Works will be coordinating with neighborhood groups, city agencies, and organizers with the Boston Redevelopment Authority's Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative throughout the redesign process.

Email Patrick D. Rosso, Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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