This week, we sent a comment letteron a proposed 18-unit housing development at 3992-3996 Washington Street, about halfway between Roslindale Square and Forest Hills at the intersection of Archdale Road near Guira y Tambora. While we are always happy to welcome new housing to the neighborhood to help mitigate the region-wide housing crisis, the proposed development suffers from similar shortcomings of many other recent proposals — too much valuable land dedicated permanently to car storage, insufficient commitment to affordability and needed density, and only minimally compliant green-building efforts. We still support the overall project, but hope that the City and developers will not miss this opportunity to build for the 21st century, rather than the 20th. Immediate and major change in how we plan land use and transportation decisions are critical to achieving the vision set out in GoBoston 2030 and the greater Imagine Boston 2030 plan.
The Parkland Management Advisory Committee, created in the 1970s to advise on the Southwest Corridor Park planning process, recently conducted a survey of corridor users. Lots of interesting results, including several relating to the sometimes challenging interactions between pedestrians and bicyclists, but perhaps most relevant here:
57% of survey respondents live or work in Jamaica Plain, 23% in the Back Bay or South End, 16% in Roxbury, 5% in the Fenway neighborhood and 14% in other neighborhoods or cities. Among the other neighborhoods and cities, Roslindale was the most frequently mentioned.
Emphasis added (note that Roslindale wasn’t offered as a “checklist” option).
Once the Casey Overpass project is complete, entering the Southwest Corridor at Forest Hills should be a pleasant experience. The path is already a heavily-used nonmotorized highway from Southwest Boston to downtown; it is possible, for example, to take bike paths and wide bike lanes all the way from the Southwest Corridor to the water’s edge in the Seaport via the Melnea Cass bike path, Silver Line shared bike lane on Washington Street, and the Fort Port channel path across from the central USPS facility. Lots remains to be done to improve this thoroughfare (perhaps a topic for a future blog entry) but it’s a decent start.
But thousands of users who start out beyond Forest Hills have few pleasant options to reach the start of the corridor. It’s possible to walk or bike through the Arboretum, but that route is around 2x-3x longer than the straight shot from Rozzie Village to Forest Hills. Let’s envision a dedicated straight-shot path (e.g. through the arboretum, or along one of the rail rights-of-way), Hubway stations at both ends, and the phenomenal community, health, social, traffic, and mobility benefits that would come to both JP and Roslindale from that connection. Much crazier ideas have been implemented–we can and will make this happen.