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.
Over the course of this project, DCR will:
- Implement near-term safety improvements
- Develop design plans for sustainable and lasting improvements
- Select a final design and make improvements to the entire parkway
DCR has conducted several safety and planning studies to improve the Arborway. With the goal of understanding the Arborway’s existing conditions in a data driven way, DCR conducted a Road Safety Audit (RSA) of the parkway in 2019. The final Road Safety Audit Report was completed in September of that year in consultation with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and with input provided by community stakeholders. The 2019 RSA identified safety and access issues along the Arborway, including high crash rates, high travel speeds, pedestrian and bicycle access and ADA accommodations, lighting, geometry, pavement markings, and signage.
DCR held a public meeting on November 21, 2019 to share information on the RSA process; the short-term improvements that will be or have been made by the agency; and, the upcoming design phase for parkway reconfiguration and long-term improvements. During and after the meeting on November 21, 2019, DCR received over 100 public comments on the project which will help the project team design improvements that respond to and address the concerns and aspirations of community members.
After carefully reviewing detailed proposals from several design teams, DCR awarded the contract for engineering, landscape architecture, and public involvement services for the Arborway Improvements Project to Howard Stein Hudson and Halvorson Design Partnership in February 2020.
The project at the 25% design stage as of Spring 2021. We presented three design concepts at our October 2020 virtual public meeting, which was attended by nearly 200 people. We also received over 650 public comments. The design team has been reviewing, summarizing, and discussing how those comments should affect the development of the project design.
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. Principally, 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.
- Summer 2021: DCR will present the preferred alternative
- Fall 2021: The project team will advance the final design
- Spring 2022: Final plans will be ready for bid for construction.
This schedule is subject to change based on public input and final design elements.
As part of the Arborway Parkways Improvement Project, DCR has committed to completing a series of short-term improvements to the parkway within the project area. In 2020, DCR removed a set of legacy highway-grade guide signs and replaced sidewalks and curb ramps around and between Murray and Kelley Circles.
In May of 2021, DCR installed new lane markings on the Arborway carriage roads, within Murray Circle, and on the southbound direction of Arboway in front of the Arboretum. The work created new bike lanes, delineated traffic in the rotary, and created a safer parking area in front of the Arboretum.
After completing this work, DCR received some complaints about congestion on the Arborway and Centre Street northbound in the afternoon rush hour. DCR Engineering staff responded and found the cause of the congestion. The problem was caused by a traffic signal near the rotary, which was turning red too frequently. Engineers made timing adjustments to the signal, which helped to clear congestion from Murray Circle.
Changes to traffic patterns usually need a few weeks for drivers to get used to the new configurations, and this project is no exception. DCR Engineering staff will continue to monitor traffic flow in Murray Circle and make more adjustments as needed to keep congestion to a minimum.
DCR will conduct a robust public process and provide members of the public with meaningful opportunities to share their input with the project team throughout the project’s design phase. Based on the Commonwealth’s response to the Coronavirus, we will begin our work with the public virtually.
- We want to hear your ideas for making the Arborway safer and more enjoyable for all users. Public input will help the project team develop design alternatives that reflect and respond to community needs and aspirations. After each phase of the design process, DCR will welcome input through announced public comment periods. Currently, members of the public are invited to submit feedback and comments on the project using our interactive online map and comment form.
DCR recognizes that significant work and thought has already gone into the Arborway within the past two decades. The agency respects that work and will build on it going forward. The prior studies are listed below:
- 2019 Road Safety Audit
- 2015 Planning Study
- 2007 Traffic Study
- 2004 Arborway Master Plan
Public Meeting Information
Wednesday, October 21, 2020 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Webinar Meeting Access Code: 574-108-511.
Meeting Notice Meeting Presentation Meeting Video Recording Follow-up Communication Public Comments - deadline 11-6-2020