Orange Line Shutdown Brings Permanent Street Changes

Boston Airport Shuttle Services would like to update our readers about the upcoming changes in arrangements on the streets. Today, Mayor Michelle Wu and Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge unveiled several street modifications to help mitigate the impact of MBTA’s Orange Line shutdown, which will be permanently implemented with the reopening of the Orange Line Monday.

It is believed that the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) has taken unprecedented measures to swiftly put in prioritized bus lanes and pop-up bicycle lanes and change parking restrictions on the Orange Line route. Specific infrastructure improvements that helped improve public safety or traffic flow will remain in place. Additionally, the Mayor announced street improvements which will be removed temporarily and then reinstated. Other modifications made in the Orange Line shutdown will be taken down.

“Over the past thirty days or so, the City staff have been focusing on evaluating what’s working to keep improving it throughout the challenging time of being a part of the Orange Line shutdown,” stated City Manager Michelle Wu. “We’re maintaining some of the improvements that have improved traffic flow and transit access and ensuring that commuters benefit for a long time above the ground, even after the subway is restored. I’m delighted with those at the Boston Transportation Department for their dedication to this historic occasion and thankful to the City’s commuters for your understanding and suggestions.”

“The last 30 days have provided us with the opportunity to think of new ways to utilize our public spaces to simplify mobility for residents within the city,” said Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge. “We look forward to engaging with residents to learn all the knowledge we have learned to apply it in the next infrastructure projects that will improve the public realm and make it easier for pedestrians, cyclists, bicycles, and transit users.”

The following changes to the street infrastructure will be maintained:

  • Chinatown MBTA SL4 bus stop new bus stop provides a vital connection that connects Chinatown inhabitants to SL4.
  • Copley Square areas bus lanes The bus lanes are Boylston Street (Ring Road to Clarendon Street), Clarendon Street (Boylston Street from Columbus Ave.), and St. James Street (west of Berkeley Street to Dartmouth Street). These bus lanes are part of the 39, 10, 9, and 39 bus routes, which provide more than 10,000 passengers every weekday.
  • South End loading zones and drop-off zones in South End: The changes to the parking regulations in this zone will be in effect for enhanced curbside management and less double parking on the bike lane not secured.
  • Jamaica Plain pavement marking and signs: This includes elements for safety in traffic like “Don’t Blot the Box” or parking limitations on corners to increase visibility. These changes have proven that they can improve traffic safety and management.
  • Boylston Street one-way traffic: The closure of a portion of Boylston Street (between Amory & Lamartine) to traffic for the duration of the closure has enhanced security (collisions as well as near misses) on the Southwest Corridor. Reopening this section as a one-way road between Amory through Lamartine for vehicles will help support the long-term plans for bike connectivity and increase the safety of all modes and lessen the conflicts at the high-crash junction between Boylston as well as Lamartine Streets.
  • Huntington Avenue bus and bike priority lane: The prioritized bike and bus lane that has been added to Huntington Avenue from Brigham Circle to Gainsborough Street has improved the speed of the Route 39 bus. As a permanent lane, it’ll continue to serve the thousands of riders who use the Route 39 bus and will increase the safety of those riding bikes.
  • Columbus Avenue pop-up bike lane The lane will be in place until December 1st and will be taken down for the remainder of the season. BTD Active Transportation will continue to check and move barrels every day to allow street sweeps. Plans are in place for a permanent facility. It is among the most popular routes for biking. Improvements in the conditions, even only a few blocks, can make the entire ride more comfortable and enjoyable.
  • Bluebikes parking The City will continue to maintain the Bluebikes docks that were added during the shutdown. They will make minor adjustments to keep up with record-breaking numbers of riders. Also, the City is looking into the possibilities of offering bikes for free or as a low-cost service.

It is expected that the Boylston Street pop-up bike lane will be taken down as the City plans to create the new permanent facility that was announced. Boylston Street is an integral part of the bike network. The improved infrastructure will make it safer for cyclists cycling between Brookline, Mission Hill, the LMA along with Back Bay to Downtown. The temporary Boylston Street bike lane will remain in place until September 26th. Permanently, the Boylston Street bike lane will be the first to be installed in spring.

The Boston Transportation Department is also exploring possible designs for fast bicycle lanes, bus lanes, pedestrian zones, and safety improvements influenced by the changes temporarily implemented during the Orange Line shutdown. The changes will be evaluated and consulted, and publicly declared before the launch.

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