New Connection at Spice Street to Make Major Differences at Hood

September 27, 2018
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A new connector road being built right now by Encore Boston Harbor on Spice Street and D Street could make a huge difference in the levels of traffic coming from Hood Park using Rutherford Avenue and Sullivan Square, and it’s a fact that the Hood proponents say shouldn’t be lost in the discussion about buildings on the site.

For the past several months, as part of the short-term traffic mitigation for Encore Boston Harbor, construction has been ongoing to convert Spice and D streets from bumpy, forgotten side streets into a major bypass route of Sullivan Square.

That bypass, said Mark Rosenshein of Trademark Partners, would be a transformative project for his site at Hood, as well as the entire western side of Rutherford Avenue.

“In some ways, that improvement has a more significant change in terms of Hood Park’s impacts on Rutherford Avenue and Sullivan Square than what the Boston Transportation Department is talking about for completely rebuilding Rutherford and the Sullivan circle,” he said. “That work (on Spice Street) is occurring right now and should be done by the end of the year…That will 100 percent change the traffic patterns for Hood Park.”

Rosenshein has mentioned the project previously, but the light shone on it during the recent filing by Hood Park as construction has now begun on the bypass. The bypass will allow anyone leaving Hood Park to connect to Spice Street from the Hood parking lot. From there, they will be able to approach a traffic signal at Cambridge Street, and then go north on a new street now being constructed – a street that was only allowed for bus traffic previously. That new flyway will give Hood traffic a direct route out of Charlestown and to the northern suburbs or I-93 without ever having to touch Rutherford Avenue or Sullivan Square.

The same pattern is available for traffic coming to Hood Park from the north or from Cambridge.

Rosenshein said the only traffic that would use Rutherford Avenue would be those heading into downtown or looking to get on I-93 south or northbound on the Mystic/Tobin Bridge.

That’s a stark change from what has to happen now to go north from Hood Park. Those wishing to go to Everett, Somerville, Cambridge or I-93 north now have to drive on Rutherford Avenue to Austin Street, make a U-Turn on the overpass and then head into the belly of the beast, also known as Sullivan Square.

The new bypass being constructed would cut all of that out for Hood users.

“Right now, either way, you have to take a left onto Rutherford Avenue and if you’re going north, you have to make the U-Turn and head into the circle,” he said. “With this new configuration, Hood northbound traffic no longer needs to do that.”

He said it cannot be underestimated that the new bypass will subtract a lot of existing Hood traffic and future Hood traffic from the major Charlestown congestion points.

“The reality is this changes everything for Hood Park and everyone on our side of Rutherford Avenue because it’s a major thing not to have to go around the circle anymore,” he said. “To me, this is transformative. It’s the answer to all the questions people are asking about how we will manage traffic at Hood Park. We aren’t. It’s being managed because everyone will be taking the new connector and we won’t even touch Sullivan Square. That’s actually going to be different starting on Jan. 1.”