Arborway Parkways Improvement Project

Improving safety and accessibility for all users along the Arborway

Project Overview

The Arborway is a nationally registered historic parkway originally designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The parkway is located in Jamaica Plain and runs from Circuit Drive at Forest Hills to Eliot Street by Jamaica Pond, where it merges into the Jamaica Way, part of Boston’s larger Emerald Necklace park system.  Under the care and control of DCR, the Arborway includes several distinct sections, including Murray and Kelley Circles, the Arborway and Upper Arborway next to the Arnold Arboretum, and the eight-lane section between the two rotaries which retains Olmsted’s original parkway layout. 

The goals of this project are to improve safety and accessibility for all users along the Arborway, create a better balance among the various demands placed on the roadway, and create a welcoming environment with enhanced public access that reflects the natural and cultural history of the site.

Project Background and Development

DCR has conducted several safety and planning studies to improve the Arborway.  Now, we have an active contract with an engineering consultant, the team of Howard Stein Hudson and Halvorson Design Partnership, to take the Arborway to full design, resulting in a set of construction plans we can send out to bid and build the project.

To date, we have developed a Preferred Alternative, which is the product of a lengthy and deep open process with the community.  The project team presented four distinct concepts.  At our public meetings, attendees had opportunities to ask questions and offer comments.  We also accepted comments by e-mail and web form after our meetings, and the consultant set up an on-line tool where commenters could post their thoughts directly on the concept plan.  Finally, we conducted a poll asking pointed questions about both specific and general preferences.  All told the project team received well over a thousand comments and our meetings were attended by nearly three hundred people.

We are working through established community groups and organizations to make final changes to and build advocacy for the Preferred Alternative.  Once we have general community support for the final Preferred Alternative, we will begin to develop the engineering design.

Project Limits

Almost the entire length of the Arborway is included, starting from Jamaica Pond, continuing through Kelley and Murray Circles, and ending at the Forest Hills Gate, where the Casey Overpass project terminated a few years ago.  The project will include both carriageways and the upper Arborway. 

The project limits are shown in yellow below.

arborway rsa

Design Development

During design development, engineers will begin to form the details of the plan.  During the development, we may discover some new constraints that will result in some minor changes to the layout of the project.  Additionally, the most complex elements of the project, such as the larger intersections, will be advanced.  However, the general design approach outlined in the Preferred Alternative will not change.

The design consultant will submit their design at the 25% stage, 75% stage, and 100% stage.  We will post those plans on this web site.  DCR welcomes questions on this material to and the project team will do its best to promptly answer as many questions as we can.

Short Term Improvements

In the meantime, we have also been completed short-term work as previously discussed with and presented to the public at our public meetings and posted to this site.  In the Fall of 2020 we replaced and repaired sidewalk and curb ramps around Murray and Kelley Circles and on both sides of the parkway between the circles. 

In May of 2021, we completed the lane striping improvements, which added lane lines to the inside of Murray Circle and buffered bike lanes on sections of the parkway.  These markings will be updated and upgraded in the late Spring of 2023.

Finally, we are coordinating with National Grid to complete repairs to its gas line before we start our reconstruction project.

Additional Resources

Contact   for Arborway Parkways Improvement Project

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