Resident Advocacy Results in Reversal Of ‘Highway Up the Hill’ on Allston Street

By Seth Daniel

Allston Street is one of the narrowest streets on the back side of the Town.

It’s also one of the most used cut-throughs for drivers, and as residents have watched a growing number of cars speed up the big hill to Bunker Hill Street – they began to hit a breaking point, even if the cars were nowhere close to braking.

After quite some time of complaining to City Hall and calling for some sort of traffic reconfiguration, residents and the overall neighborhood won much-needed changes to the street that, until now, was simply the “highway up the hill.”

This week, the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) and the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services (ONS) announced that a 90-day trial program will be implemented on Allston Street effective on Nov. 1 – reversing the direction of the street.

Currently, Allston Street traffic flows in the direction from Medford Street to Bunker Hill Street, the only street that goes up the hill. As of November 1, for 90 days, traffic will flow in the direction from Bunker Hill Street to Medford Street.

“BTD has taken a number of steps over the past several months to alleviate the traffic related concerns of Allston Street residents,” said BTD Commissioner Gina N. Fiandaca.  “We are pleased to have had this opportunity to collaborate with the community on this upcoming action, and we look forward to implementing the trial program and watching for results.”

Residents who have tirelessly advocated for change due to concerns about traffic volumes and speeding cars were also quite happy.

“There are a lot of residents who have lived here a long time and there are also a lot of people like me who are newer to the street and have made our homes here with the intention of raising our kids here,” said Marney McCabe of Allston Street, one of about five or six neighbors who have worked diligently to come up with a solution. “We all have a lot invested in our street and we all are very happy with this solution…We have been working with the City on this a number of years and are happy our voices were finally heard. We are happy that we have the support of City Hall and that we have the support of the greater neighborhood too.”

Prior action taken by BTD to improve conditions on Allston Street include:

  • New crosswalk installed on Allston Street at Bunker Hill Street
  • Stop signs installed on Allston Street at Bunker Hill Street
  • 20 mph signs installed on Allston Street
  • Slow signs posted on Allston Street
  • No Trucks or Buses Over 2 1/2 Tons signs posted on Allston Street
  • No right Turn 7 AM – 9 AM and 4 PM – 6 PM sign posted on Medford Street at Allston Street.

A public meeting was held on Tuesday, Sept. 13, where local residents discussed the issues with Charlestown ONS Coordinator Chris Breen and BTD Manager of Constituent Relations and Social Media Carla Tankle.

The 90-Day Trial Program is a result of that forum.

“A lot of the concerns we’ve had and that were expressed at the forum were about speeding,” said McCabe. “Allston Street is a hill and drivers tend to hit the gas when they turn onto the street. By the time they get to the plateau, they’re going 30 mph on a street that is too narrow for that kind of speed. We have a narrow street, more than other streets, which is why we only have parking on one side. The street has really become a throughway of people just trying to get from point A to point B…This is really not about convenience. It’s about the safety of our street.”

Drivers are advised that BTD Operations Division staff will be changing a number of traffic and parking regulation signs on Allston Street, Bunker Hill Street and Medford Street to coincide with the upcoming change.

Community members are asked to direct questions or comments to [email protected] and [email protected].

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