By Seth Daniel
Two of the top leaders in the City would like to take a closer look at returning two-way traffic to the Broadway Business District, and a consultant for the City is examining just that issue as part of the redesign of the Broadway corridor.
The idea has come up in the Broadway Re-Design meetings and consultants Nelson Nygaard are investigating whether or not it would work. As much as there are fans of the idea, the Record discovered there are also many skeptics.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino is in favor of looking into it.
“I like the idea,” he said. “I don’t know if it will make it into the final report though. I thought it warranted some study because it will slow down traffic and make it a more pedestrian friendly area. I think it will also solve traffic issues where people are forced now into a circular pattern to get to certain destinations.”
He said much time and inefficiency could be eliminated if drivers didn’t have to come off the Mystic/Tobin Bridge at Fourth Street and drive all the way over to Hawthorne Street and back around to go north on Broadway or get to City Hall. Another positive to it might be preventing the double parking situation on Broadway.
Police Chief Brian Kyes, for reasons like public safety, is in favor of the change as well.
“I’m actually a fan of that,” he said. “Broadway Revere is a great example. If you double park on Broadway Revere, you can’t because you’ll be obstructing traffic. The double parkers on Broadway Chelsea are a huge pet peeve of mine…They provide a blocking mechanism or shelter for the criminals. If you have a semi-truck and you want to be hidden, you can go behind it and the police can’t see you. It’s really for public safety. When the trucks are there or the double parkers, it blocks the sight lines. If you’re on Bellingham Square and they’re not there, officers have clear sight lines.”
He added that the double parkers and delivery trucks also provide a danger for women with baby carriages or small children. Often, they come out from behind a truck into traffic weaving down the street, nearly causing a tragic accident.
Were the street two-way, he said, such situations would be eliminated.
The corridor has been one-way northbound since at least the 1950s or early 1960s. It is believed that former Mayor Andrew Quigley made the switch. However, it is uncertain if anyone after him tried to reverse the direction.
City Councillors are skeptical.
Council President Leo Robinson said “no way.”
“No way, I’m not for that,” he said. “First, what will we do with all the parking. Growing up here, I remember when it was two-way. I don’t think we can really handle that again.”
Councillor Damali Vidot shared Robinson’s concern, but was willing to think about it.
“It’s scary initially because it’s been one way so long,” she said. “I don’t know if it would work because the street is already so congested and then we would have another lane of traffic added. I don’t know if it would fix anything, but I am willing to have the conversation.”
Councillor Giovanni Recupero, who represents the corridor, was not so concerned.
He said if the chief liked the idea for public safety reasons, then he would probably be on board with it.