Proposed Changes to Blackstone Block, Constitution Rd. Aims at Accessibility

March 5, 2014
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A standing-room crowd at a public hearing at City Hall on Wednesday got a glimpse of the latest concept designs for improving pedestrian and bicycle accessibility to the Blackstone Block, located between the Haymarket MBTA station and Faneuil Hall, and Constitution Road in the Charlestown Navy Yard.

Connect Historic Boston – an initiative between the National Park Service and the Boston Transportation Department to improve walking, biking and public-transit routes to destinations of interest citywide – will reconstruct a total of seven city streets as the first phase of a $23-million project, which also includes a new design for Joy Street on Beacon Hill and plans for a historic bike trail around the downtown area. The project is funded in part through a $15.5 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, discretionary grant awarded to the city by the U.S. Department of Transportation in September.

The new design for the Blackstone Block would transform the area into a “shared-street environment” with improved accessibility between Haymarket and Faneuil Hall, according to Connect Historic Boston.

Proposed modifications on Hanover Street include raising the street and eliminating flush sidewalks; and on Union Street, removing proposed façade-mounted lighting and replacing the acorn fixtures along the sidewalk on the west side with double-acorn fixtures.

According to Connect Historic Boston, the new design for Constitution Road aims to convert the area into a “welcoming multimodal gateway to the Charlestown Navy Yard,” which would continue to accommodate residents and buses while improving accessibility for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Proposed changes to Constitution Road include a raised intersection at Warren Street, a cycle track connecting to the Navy Yard and improved pedestrian crossings, among other modifications.

Vineet Gupta, director of policy and planning for the Boston Transportation, said a design update meeting on the first phase of the Connect Historic Boston initiative was tentatively scheduled for April, while the completed design is due on May 31.

The city is accepting comments on the 25-percent design until March 12 via e-mail at William.Egan@cityofboston.gov. To learn more, visit www.connecthistoric-boston.org.