April 13, 2015: Melnea Cass Boulevard Design Meeting Recap

The Melnea Cass Boulevard Design Project began in 2011. The initial concept widened the roadway and inserted a BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) in the center median, a design philosophy that caused a great deal of concern for residents in an area where rapid traffic patterns were already a hazard to pedestrians and cyclists. Thanks to a grassroots neighborhood group, Friends of Melnea Cass Boulevard, the wider design was forced out, and residents pushed for a more neighborhood friendly design which was more collaborative in nature.

You can find earlier info and critique of the original plans here.

Friends of Melnea Cass Boulevard and the Department of Transportation have had a series of meetings and walkthroughs since the original plan was proposed to produce a redesign that meets the needs of the neighborhood residents without crippling traffic on this busy through-way. The grassroots group has been steadfast in their vision. “We envision Melnea Cass Boulevard as Complete Street. We believe that the design goal should be that the boulevard serves the neighborhood well by addressing all transportation modes – walking, bicycling, and motor vehicles – and knits together Lower Roxbury and Roxbury with safe crossings, enjoyable green space and landscaping, and calmed traffic.”

Monday night the revised design was officially released to the public. You can find more details about the plan here.

The updated plan incorporates the addition of a brand new cycle track on the southwest corridor as well as significant widening of the existing northbound cycle track. On street parking was added in effort to help reduce traffic speed and support access to neighborhood merchants. The new design promises an enhanced environment for all users of the boulevard with fresh landscaping and modern green space amenities, including preserving more existing trees than the original plan.

Ivana, a professional flamenco dance teacher and resident of the neighborhood for 29 years was invited to speak on behalf of Friends of Melnea Cass Boulevard in response to the new design. She expressed that although the group does not endorse all the decision made in the new design, it is a great improvement from the original concept.

Throughout the meeting members of Friends of Melnea Cass Boulevard and neighborhood residents responded to the new design with some of the following key issues:

  • Concern for children and elderly crossing the boulevard at widths measuring over 70 feet.

  • The turning radius was increased on a corner that contains a public school, and heavy youth and elderly pedestrian traffic

  • The addition of the southwest cycle track will result in the destruction of many trees

  • Will the new design support the traffic requirements for the recent developments surrounding the neighborhood?

  • The possibility of incorporating a footbridge to increase traffic flow and keeping pedestrians safe.

  • Urging the designers to consult the design team of the Commonwealth Avenue for ideas on traffic slowing infrastructure and pedestrian/cyclist safety.


The meeting left with the consensus that there needs to be another walkthrough of the boulevard with the new design in mind and a response meeting with the designers before plans are finalized.

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