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Traffic Pattern Changes Could Accompany New Building Heights on Harrison/Albany Corridor

Proposals include opening portions of Washington, Traveler streets to two-way traffic.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority will propose a series of changes to traffic patterns in parts of the South End to accompany re-zoning initiatives along the Harrison/Albany Corridor, the BRA announced at an Advisory Group meeting on Wednesday.

The proposed changes include a series of short and long-term projects that TetraTech Rizzo consultant Mike Hall said could alleviate current traffic problems as well as future congestion caused by development.

Short-term changes presented on Wednesday were located mainly in the Herald Street area and included opening the Harrison Avenue overpass to two-way traffic, making Traveler Street two-way between Harrison and Albany Street and making Washington Street two-way between Herald and East Berkeley streets.

The changes would open up access to the SoWa district and alleviate congestion in a frequently gridlocked area along the Mass Pike, Hall said. If the BRA succeeds in spurring development along the corridor in the coming years, the changes will become a necessity, he added.

“Obviously there’s a lot more traffic with 7.3 million [square feet] of new build-out,” he said. “There are implications if we do nothing.”

The 7.3 million figure comes from proposed zoning changes along the corridor, which the BRA hopes will encourage developers to take over vacant lots and buildings. On Wednesday, Senior Architect Michael Cannizzo suggested allowing heights of up to 200 feet on lots bordering Interstate 93.

Cannizzo also suggested increasing the base height of buildings in the corridor from 70 to 100 feet, with pockets of town houses marked as exceptions. Incentives could also be make available to developers willing to contribute park space or affordable housing in exchange for taller building allowances.

“We’re sort of fleshing out how that would work but the idea is that if you would provide…some sort of amenity you could go up to 150 [feet],” Cannizzo said.

The proposed height increases met with positive reactions from members of the Advisory Group, many of whom asked for more change rather than less at November’s meeting.

“I just want to say how happy we are that the whole process has come to this point,” said Tamara Roy of Add Inc., who represents the hotel project at 275 Albany Street.  “It now feels very logical.”

The group will meet twice more before hosting a community meeting for members of the public in April or May. Proposed zoning changes will then be submitted to the Zoning Commission for approval, with implementation slated to start in June.

A full version of Wednesday's presentation can be viewed on the BRA website beginning Thursday morning. Comments or questions on the proposed changes can be sent via email to carlos.montanez.bra@cityofboston.gov or maria.mercurio.bra@cityofboston.gov or by calling (617) 918-4442.

bra_scandal April 15, 2011 at 02:52 PM
The one-way on Traveller Steeet never made any sense, and makes less sense now that the access to S Boston and 93 are at the end - this is a good idea. Making Washington and Harrison both 2-way sounds like a disaster in the making for the South End - all it does is route more Downtown traffic to the old Kerry Village/ now Castle Square area and exacerbate the problems caused by parking fights at the old 88. That traffic and re-routing will do nothing but bring Chinatown-type traffic jams to the rest of the South End. One route in and one route out makes for smoother traffic and preserves the distinct nature of South End life

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