A dynamic new dedicated bus and bike lane will start construction in the Broadway business district in September, with an eye to finishing up the project in three to four weeks before the end of the construction season.
Planner Alex Train and Public Works Director Fidel Maltez said they have all of the designs ready and approvals from the City Council and Traffic/Parking Commission.
“We’ve fully designed the bus lane project and are proceeding with construction in September,” said Train. “We’ve had a lot of conversations with business owners concerning the implementation. But we’re extremely excited for this and it’s a positive and a great step in the right direction for mobility. Route 112 carries 12,000 people a day, and the Route 116 and 117 use the same route and carry more people every day. This bus lane will really improve these three big bus routes and create better waiting areas too.”
The bus lane will run along the western side of the Broadway and will be delineated by distinctive red paint to let drivers know to stay out of that lane when driving or parking. The lane will go from Bellingham Square southbound to Third Street/Everett Avenue. It will also accommodate bicyclists and provide a safer way for them to travel down Broadway as well. Meanwhile, the Fourth and Broadway bus stop will be widened and improved for those waiting there. The project is expected to cost $570,000, and there is an online public meeting about the upcoming construction on Aug. 26 at 6 p.m.
One of the keys, Maltez said, is to make sure the Chelsea Police and City officials enforce the dedicated lane, which will not be separated with dividers or other traffic posts. He said that will be key, and that the Police are on board with it.
“That was one of the first challenges we wanted to take on,” he said. “Enforcement is going to be the key…We want it ticketed and enforced. The red paint we believe will make a difference. We’ve seen it work in two places, including City Hall and Park Square. Having the red paint tells people not to go there. Just the red paint itself is a deterrent.”
He also said they have begun to add more short-term parking zones along Broadway, and Train said they looked at frequent double parking spots and tried to home in on those areas for the short-term parking.
Those five-minute zones were unveiled along Broadway two weeks ago, and have been working well initially.
The Broadway bus and bike lane could also tie in to other routes too.
Maltez said for the bus aspect, there has been talk at the state level about adding a dedicated bus lane to the Mystic/Tobin Bridge. There is also a dedicated bus lane included in the re-design of Rutherford Avenue and the North Washington Street Bridge in Charlestown. With all those pieces working together, it could mean a seamless and quick ride to downtown Boston from Bellingham Square, he said.
“The Route 111 in particular would have a dedicated bus lane from Bellingham Square all the way to Boston if that dedicated lane come into effect on the Tobin in the future,” he said.
Train said the bike lane aspect would tie into upcoming lanes on Williams and Beacham Streets, as well as a planned bike lane on Upper Broadway to the Revere line.
Looking to the long-term future, Train said there is a much larger project being designed with MassDOT to fully revamp downtown – including new utilities, sidewalks, paving, traffic signals and new public spaces. That has an estimated start date of 2025.