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Intersections on Dorchester Ave. to get makeovers

Posted by Your Town  November 17, 2010 02:47 PM

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(Photo by Laura Finaldi)

Fifteen intersections along Dorchester Avenue are getting makeovers, thanks to $15.6 million in stimulus funds from the federal government.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the sites, which include major intersections at Andrew Square, Peabody Square, Glover’s Corner and Field’s Corner, will receive new traffic signal equipment and more bicycle accommodation improvements in the areas, which experience high cyclist traffic. Sidewalks and crosswalks will be installed to help cyclists and pedestrians alike. The work began in the spring and is expected to be completed by 2012.

Rosanne Foley, director of Dorchester Environmental Health Coalition, said the construction will improve old infrastructure and non-working traffic signals -- problems, she said, that had left Dorchester Avenue in "anarchic chaos."

"Some intersections - like Peabody Square at Ashmont, and Glover's Corner at Freeport Street - will look drastically different because the traffic will be 'calmed' and channeled, versus a frantic free-for-all," Foley said.

Maureen McQuillen, president of the Columbia Savin Hill Civic Association (CSHCA), said the City of Boston had been closely involved in the construction process from the start. She said the city held workshops with business owners, to help them to make improvements that would complement the construction.

McQuillen said MassDOT also plans to expand crosswalk intersections, making sidewalks longer so that crossing the street, especially at major intersections, is safer.

"It's really exciting because it's going to hopefully improve traffic, increase green space, and make it easier to cross the street,” she said. “Hopefully, [the construction] will increase pedestrian traffic and make it more of a viable business district, as well.”

According to the website of the Charles River Watershed Association, the Peabody Square construction is part of the "Green Street" project, a pilot program that will use new storm-water management techniques to reduce not only the volume of storm-water runoffs, but also the amount of pollutants collected underground.

Foley said that the hope is that the construction will make Dorchester Avenue not just safer, but more attractive.

"We'll have green space where there was just pavement,” she said. “[And] we'll even have some cutting-edge 'green street' rainwater recharge systems."

This article was reported and written by Northeastern University journalism student Laura Finaldi, under the supervision of Journalism Instructor Lisa Chedekel (l.chedekel@neu.edu), as part of a collaboration between The Boston Globe and Northeastern.

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