Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Demands on Parker Street

The Route 9/Parker Street overpass is already the subject of study by the city and New England Development (and their respective traffic consultants) because of the effect on the interchange of of increased Route 9 traffic from Chestnut Hill Square.

The scope of study (and potential improvements) needs to be expanded in light of news that the Sam White property (on the south side of Route 9 just east of Parker Street) is going to be developed, likely as affordable housing, pursuant to 40(b).

This significantly changes the dynamic on the interchange. With development on the Sam White property, there will be an undoubtedly large increase in the number of motorists using Parker Street to perform an east-to-west U-turn. That is, westbound traffic coming from the east of Parker Street that will have to go up the westbound off-ramp to Parker Street, turn left on Parker Street (after crossing the northbound traffic lane), then turn left down the eastbound on-ramp (again crossing the northbound traffic lane).

The accumulation of the following factors make it seem like a good opportunity to rethink the whole interchange design and not invest in relatively minor changes (like traffic signals) that address only one source of concerns:

  • The apparently deteriorating condition of the bridge
  • The increased volume to be generated by Chestnut Hill Square
  • The increased volume to be generated by development on the Sam White property
  • The significant bike and pedestrian problems

Considered more broadly, the area needs a better bicycle/pedestrian connection from the north to the south, not only along Parker Street. Both Bowen School and the South/Oak Hill complex are east of Parker, between Parker and Langley. Perhaps a master plan for the Langley to Parker section could include pedestrian access across Route 9 between the two major intersections.

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