Traffic Update North Washington Street Bridge Project Not Getting Police Details

It’s a daily routine for those in Charlestown trying to drive home.

One can see the daylight ahead of them, but because so many cars “block the box” or infringe upon the intersection, drivers simply can’t get to the open roads – even waiting multiple light cycles.

Nowhere is that worse than at City Square due to the North Washington Street Bridge project, where lane closures and construction have traffic backed up at many hours of the morning and evening. Local drivers often find they can’t take a left onto Chelsea Street, or get on and off the Mystic/Tobin Bridge due to the intersection being blocked by drivers going a completely different direction.

A great deal of the problem lies in that Police Details on the Bridge project are not being filled. The Bridge budget contains funding for six police positions, but City and State officials said those details are frequently not being filled.

“The police don’t want to work that detail,” said Bill Conroy of Boston Transportation (BTD). “There are a shortage of detail workers citywide. Captain Fong is doing everything possible. Right now it’s not forced overtime and there’s no one they have that wants to take that detail all the time.”

John Boyle of the Boston Police said they are trying to get officers to work that detail, maybe to prioritize it higher, but he said it is voluntary. Because of that, no one can be made to do it.

“We just ask that the residents of Charlestown be patient with us,” he said. “We try to fill that detail as much as we can, but it is voluntary and not forced overtime. No one can be made to take it.”

Ken Flynn said when there aren’t any details to stop traffic from clogging the City Square intersection, he cannot even get out of his Park Street home.

“I can’t get out of my driveway on Park Street to drive over the Hill to get to the field to watch my grandkids play softball,” he said.

He suggested that they look at State Police or Sheriff’s Deputies to fill the details if Boston Police Officers don’t take them.

“That’s all trying to be worked out,” said Conroy. “There are jurisdictional issues. We understand people want them and we don’t have the bodies to fill them now.”

In other news on the North Washington Street Bridge, coordinators for the project told residents they have started building the temporary bridge next to the existing bridge. They will not begin re-routing traffic to the temporary bridge until December.

Representatives for the project said they would be out to a public meeting prior to that shift in December.

Lost Village to Get Meeting on Cut-throughs

The Green Line Extension project in Somerville – which has resulted in the closure of three major bridges there – has been severely impacting the Lost Village section of Charlestown (on the other side of I-93). Now, the City said they will conduct a meeting on June 18 to figure out a way to stop people cutting through the neighborhood to avoid the bridge closures.

“We’ve been hearing from the Lost Village they feel lost with traffic,” said Bill Conroy of the BTD. “They are being impacted by the Green Line Extension project and cut through traffic. We took a look at the area and want to talk about reversing streets or changing things around. We’re looking at everything and want to talk to them about what might help.”

The meeting details are still to be announced, but it will be on June 18.

Traffic Cameras to Go Live May 31

One often-overlooked piece of mitigation from the Encore Boston Harbor casino project is the digital connection of the traffic lights on the corridor from City Square to Lower Broadway in Everett. That digital connection – for the first time ever – will connect into Boston City Hall’s Transportation Center. There, traffic monitors will be able to observe all traffic on Rutherford Avenue, Sullivan Square and into Lower Broadway Everett. If there is a major backup at any of the lights, they will have the ability to manually override the signal timing to relieve congestion instantly.

These traffic lights have been in the works for the last six months, and BTD officials said they would go live on May 31 – enough time for them to work out the kinks before the June 23 casino opening.

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