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GlobeWatch

Can't someone unclog the mess on the Riverway?

Email|Print| Text size + By Christina Pazzanese
Globe Correspondent / December 30, 2007

It's a ride tipster Bob Mathews of Jamaica Plain would love to avoid if he could. But his daily commute takes him right through maddening traffic snarls that regularly clog streets in the Longwood Medical Area.

"Every weekday morning I drive north on the Riverway through the intersection with Brookline Avenue," Mathews writes in an e-mail. "It always requires several light changes to make it through that intersection, and northbound traffic is often backed up on the Riverway to the Route 9 overpass or well beyond. This situation persists from morning rush hour to noon.

"The reason is that the intersection is almost always gridlocked by traffic going inbound on Brookline Ave. . . . Drivers going inbound on Brookline Ave. routinely block the entire Riverway intersection. The result is that drivers going north on the Riverway (and often those going south) cannot move through the intersection. The consequence is a mammoth and morning-long traffic jam. There is simply too much traffic on Brookline Ave. inbound - including the substantial northbound traffic turning onto Brookline Ave. from the Riverway," he writes.

On a recent late-morning drive by a Globe reporter along Brookline Avenue, traffic in both directions crawled at a glacially slow pace; a four-block trip clocked in at 15 minutes. Drivers frequently drove through red lights or idled in the middle of intersections waiting to proceed but blocking oncoming traffic. A police officer on detail directing traffic appeared to be focused primarily on waving vehicles past an active construction site.

Mathews suggests some possible solutions for clearing the congestion. "Change the timing of traffic lights on Brookline Ave. between Longwood Ave. and the Riverway to get more traffic flowing; erect signs on Brookline Ave. inbound at the Riverway intersection warning drivers not to block the intersection; consider stationing a police officer at the intersection during the busiest times to prevent gridlock. Unfortunately, I'm sure this area has multiple jurisdictions, and getting anything done about this problem is likely to be a nightmare. Can you help?"

The city responds
"As a result of ongoing development in the area, the Boston Transportation Department works closely with MASCO [Medical, Academic and Scientific Community Organization] to regularly review traffic signal timing and other transportation-related amenities in the area," said Jennifer Mehigan, a city spokeswoman, in an e-mail. "This collaboration allows for the better management of traffic flow and parking demand in the area. Although there doesn't appear to be an issue with traffic signal timing, there does seem to be an issue with illegal parking, as well as the aggressive driving habits referenced by the Globe's reader. These problems affect traffic movement throughout the entire Longwood Medical Area, and in particular they result in congestion on Brookline Avenue. These problems become even more serious during the winter months when weather concerns impact traffic," she said. "The Boston Transportation Department will be stepping up parking enforcement on Longwood Avenue to deter drivers from parking illegally" and will have its "heavy vehicle tow truck in the area weekday mornings to help alleviate the problem with illegally parked delivery trucks. In addition, we will bring your concerns about aggressive driving issues in the area to the attention of the Boston Police Department," she said.

WHO'S IN CHARGE
Thomas J. Tinlin, commissioner
Boston Transportation Department
Room 714
1 City Hall Plaza
Boston, MA 02201
617-635-4680

GlobeWatch Working for progress around the city

Is something broken in your neighborhood? E-mail globewatch@globe.com. Follow up on items at www.boston.com/globewatch.

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