(Image courtesy DPW)
A section of Columbia Road that cuts through Uphams Corner is slated to receive a number of upgrades.
Since December 2012, the city’s Department of Public Works, has been meeting with area residents and stakeholders to discuss changes to the roadway and area sidewalks, including safer pedestrians access points, improved streetlights, and public art.
On Wednesday night, members of DPW and its consultant team met with community members to unveil a “Preferred Design Concept.” Plans are still preliminary, but the design presented laid out the basic blue print for the improvements DPW believes will enhance the area that is roughly defined as Columbia Road from Hancock Street to Stoughton Street.
DPW anticipates the $3-million project will begin in the fall of 2013 and end in the spring/summer of 2014.
Designs generated by DPW included better defined crosswalks at intersections, bump-outs with landscaping in front of the Strand Theater and on the Corner of Dudley and Columbia, a median and fence down the center of the road to deter jaywalking, improved sidewalks, synchronized stoplights, and a Columbia Road pedestrian crossing between Hancock Street and Cushing Avenue. Trash barrels, outdoor seating, information kiosks, streetlights, and public art is also expected to be included in the final design.
The plan, however, doesn’t include any improvements for area cyclists, with just “sharrows” being added to the road to alert drivers that they must share the lane with bikers.
Of the 10 residents and community members in attendance Wednesday night, many were receptive to the plan with some offering critiques of the details.
“Based on experience with Edward Everett Square it has been a real magnet for homeless and my concern is the low seating wall,” said area resident Joan Tighe. “I would hope there could be some conversation with the police about trying to keep people moving along.”
Others voiced concern about the fence that would be added to the new median from Hancock Street to Stoughton Street. Some said it would divide the community and add a barrier, others said the jaywalking that plagues the street has to stop.
“I think it [the fence] detracts from the community,” said Adam Gibbons, who works in the area. “I think it will make cars think it’s more like a freeway.”
The fence in the current design is between three to four-feet.
“I understand the idea of it being too high, but if it’s two low people will just hop it,” said Max MacCarthy, executive director of the Uphams Corner Main Streets.
Although the fence was a sticking point for some, many celebrated the proposed improvements to the neighborhood, including the addition to close to 20 street trees to sidewalks.
The project is currently at the 25-percent design phase and is expected to reach 75-percent completion by May, with another community meeting expected around that time. A final design is slated to be completed by June with construction expected to start in October.
(Image courtesy DPW)