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Arborway Parkways Improvement Project

Improving safety and accessibility for all users along the Arborway
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.

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

Project Background

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.

arborway rsa

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.

Project Schedule

Spring 2020: The project team will conduct surveys, collect traffic data, raise public awareness and gather public input. This project is now underway, and DCR is committed to addressing the existing safety issues along the Arborway as soon as possible, while planning for sustainable and long-lasting improvements.

Target Milestones:

  • Spring 2020: The project team will conduct surveys, collect traffic data, raise public awareness and gather public input.
  • Summer 2020: DCR will share initial design concepts with the public and gather public feedback.
  • Fall 2020: The project team will refine design plans and gather additional public feedback.
  • Winter 2020: DCR will select and advance the final design.
  • Construction is expected to begin in 2021 and last two years.

This schedule is subject to change based on public input and final design elements.

Prior to the completion of design and to the start of construction, DCR is making a series of short-term basic repairs and improvements.  So far, DCR has removed some old highway-grade guide signs, and sidewalk and ramp repair is scheduled to be completed in September.

Next, DCR plans to upgrade faded or missing pavement markings.  As part of the pavement markings work, opportunity exists to improve safety while adding some bike infrastructure.  There are no markings at all in Murray Circle, and DCR would like to add those, along with some buffered bike lanes.  The proposed layout of our markings can be viewed through the link posted below. 

For additional information on DCR's short-term improvements, including on how to provide us with your feedback on the pavement marking proposal through a comment period with a deadline October 2, 2020, please see Arborway Short-Term Improvements Communication - September 18, 2020.

Get Involved

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.

Prior Studies

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, June 24, 2020 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Participants may join the meeting using this link: bit.ly/Arborway6-24 or by calling this telephone number (631) 992-3221 for audio if necessary. GoTo Webinar Meeting ID: 779-646-219.
Meeting Notice  Meeting Presentation  Public Comments - deadline 7-10-2020

Thursday, November 21, 2019
Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital - Huvos Auditorium, 3rd Floor
Meeting Notice   Meeting Presentation  Project Communication 12.2.19   Public Comments - deadline 2019-12-16

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