Support Letter for Washington Street Corridor Bus Rapid Transit Proposal

Washington Street is arguably the single most critical–and failing–piece of transportation infrastructure in our neighborhood. As restaurants, retail, and housing around Forest Hills explodes (e.g.), and Roslindale Square itself becomes more populated as well as an increasingly popular destination to visit, it will become ever more urgent to make this one-mile connection sustainable. This includes improving the streetscape, sidewalks, and crosswalks for pedestrians; the road for cyclists; offering a more reasonably priced commuter-rail connection; and radically improving bus service. Our Roslindale Gateway Path initiative is another important solution to this puzzle. There is no reason it should take more than ten minutes for anyone to get from the end of the Orange Line to Roslindale Village at any time of day, including time spent waiting for a bus.

If our leaders don’t take real steps soon, we will see gridlock for more and more hours of the day, and extending further and further back toward Roslindale and then on to Dedham. There is simply no space to put more cars in this dense area, whether they are in motion or parked. We need creative solutions, and we need them quickly.

One high ROI proposal we’d like to see implemented immediately is bus rapid transit (“BRT”) improvements along the Washington Street corridor. To that end, back in May, we submitted a letter to support a Boston Transportation Department grant proposal to the charitable nonprofit Barr Foundation. Details below, or in this PDF copy of our letter. We expect to hear from the foundation in the next several weeks about funding. Fingers crossed!

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I write on behalf of WalkUP Roslindale to strongly support the referenced proposal by the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) to study and implement Gold Standard BRT improvements to existing MBTA bus service during both the morning and evening peak periods in the Washington Street corridor of Roslindale.

WalkUP Roslindale, which takes its name from the growing international movement to foster “Walkable Urban Places,” is a collaborative group of residents who share the goal of making Roslindale the most walkable neighborhood in Boston. We are led by a steering group of about 20 members and since our initial organization in the spring of 2015, we have attracted over 400 additional supporters. Among the many issues touching on walkability, livability, and a more equitable Roslindale on which WalkUP Roslindale has engaged on over the last 2 years since our founding, improvements to bus service for the nine (9) MBTA routes that converge on the stretch of Washington Street from Roslindale Square to Forest Hills has been high on the list. It is hard to live in our neighborhood and not be aware of the high levels of vehicular congestion that affect this corridor during the morning and evening peak periods and the impact of that congestion on travel times by bus. We have been aware for some time of BTD’s interest in seeking to work with the MBTA on significantly improving bus service citywide and in Roslindale in particular, and we were pleasantly surprised and validated to see that these specific improvements made it to number 5 on the list of top priorities identified by our fellow Boston residents and respondents to the GoBoston 2030 Mobility Plan public involvement process. The Barr Foundation’s strong interest in accelerating Gold Standard BRT throughout the region, expressed through your recent release of the request for proposals, is accordingly both exciting and timely. The time has come for bus transit riders to be given greater priority throughout the city and we think Roslindale would be a great place to start.

In connection with the pilot study and implementation, we will also be focused on making improvements for walking and bicycling in this corridor. There are currently just 2 crosswalks from Firth Road to Ukraine Way, resulting in pedestrians having frequently to dash across traffic to catch a bus. Further, while there are painted in-street, non-protected bicycle lanes, they are poorly maintained and insufficient for meeting the growing demand for safe cycling conditions. While we hope that the Roslindale Gateway Path will provide an alternative pedestrian/bicycle route in the future, the timeline for that project will surely be behind this pilot. Ultimately, we view the BRT pilot as an opportunity to concurrently improve walking and cycling infrastructure in this corridor.

In conclusion, for all of the reasons stated in BTD’s letter to you dated May 1, 2017, including especially the significant majority in people passing through this corridor on buses as opposed to other modes of travel during both the morning and evening peak periods and the non-local commuter parking profile of those using the on-street spaces that would be most affected by the pilot, we urge you to award the requested funding and support to BTD for this pilot project and look forward to working with you, BTD staff, key stakeholders, and our neighbors on moving the project forward.

Thank you.

Sincerely yours,
Matthew J. Lawlor

Resident @ 15 Basto Terrace, Roslindale, on behalf of the WalkUP Roslindale Steering Group, including
Ricardo Austrich, Resident @ 843 South Street, Roslindale
Lisa Beatman, Resident @ 180 Mount Hope Street, Roslindale
Steve Gag, Resident @ 631 South Street, Roslindale
Liz Graham-Meredith, Resident @ 6 Crandall Street, Roslindale
Mandana Moshtaghi, Resident @ 12 Arborough Road, Roslindale
Rob Orthman, Resident @ 69 Walter Street, Roslindale
Rebecca Phillips, Resident @ 10 Tappan Street, Roslindale
Adam Rogoff, Resident @ 28 Ashfield Street, Roslindale
Adam Rosi-Kessel, Resident @ 36 Taft Hill Terrace, Roslindale
Rachele Rosi-Kessel, Resident @ 36 Taft Hill Terrace, Roslindale
Mark Tedrow, Resident @ 169 Sycamore Street, Apt. 1, Roslindale
Greg Tobin, Resident @ 1 Sheldon Street, Roslindale
Alan Wright, Resident @ 98 Birch Street, Roslindale
Rick Yoder, Resident @ 180 Mount Hope Street, Roslindale

One thought to “Support Letter for Washington Street Corridor Bus Rapid Transit Proposal”

  1. I couldn’t agree more that Washington St between Forest Hills and Roslindale Village is in immediate need of creative solutions to the gridlock that often occurs. The development around Forest Hills Station that has begun in earnest and will continue without interruption for the nest 5 years will only exacerbate the current failing condition. I completely support the position put forward by Walk Up Roslindale. Our city officials must step up and take action on this issue immediately.

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