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 Status

DCR is close to designating a Preferred Alternative for Arborway.  We have received over 2000 total comments through four public meetings and as a result we feel we have an alternative that achieves the goals of the project. 

Next, we will meet with the project stakeholder group, which is comprised of 19 organizations (see list), to discuss any final concerns with proposed Preferred Alternative. 

  • Allandale Coalition
  • Arborway Coalition
  • Arnold Arboretum
  • Asticou/Martinwood/South St. Neighborhood Assoc. (AMSNA)
  • Boston Cyclists Union
  • Boston Transportation Department
  • Boston Parks and Recreation Department
  • Emerald Necklace Conservancy
  • Faulkner Hospital
  • Franklin Park Coalition
  • Jamaica Hills Association
  • JP Centre/South Main Streets
  • Jamaica Plain Historical Society
  • Jamaica Pond Association
  • Livable Streets
  • Longfellow Area Neighborhood Coalition
  • Massachusetts State Police
  • Walk Boston
  • West Selden St. Neighborhood Assoc.

As soon as we are ready to designate a Preferred Alternative, we will move the design development stage with the Howard Stein Hudson team.  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.

A link to the current proposed preferred alternative for the stakeholder meeting can be seen here: Proposed Arborway Parkway Preferred Alternative for 8.31.22 Stakeholder's Meeting

Project Progress to Date

The project is now at the 25% design stage.  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. 

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.    

In January 2022, DCR held a virtual Open House for the general public.  At the meeting, attendees were able to scrutinize the three previously-presented alternatives, plus a fourth alternative, which the project team assembled after considering the comments from the previous public meeting.   The meeting was organized into four rooms, one for each section of the Arborway, where smaller groups were invited to ask detailed questions to engineering and outreach staff. 

After this meeting we invited written comments and after a three-week period we received over 1000 comments along with responses to the survey.  The project team read through each comment and the survey responses.  The team summarized those comments for DCR. 

Additional Resources for

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  online survey (closes Feb 10, 2022).

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

Thursday, January 20, 2022, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
https://virtualmeeting.link/arborwayroadwayimprovements
Meeting ID: 822 6708 9653 Passcode: 378428 Phone: 1 646 558 8656
Meeting Notice   Agenda  Public Comments  Survey Results

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2020 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
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

Design Alternatives

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