By Sal Giarratani
Last week, the Boston Transportation Department hosted a Sullivan Square Design meeting in a packed Knights of Columbus Hall. Residents came to listen to city and state officials explain a number of options still on the table to make Sullivan Square work for both pedestrians and motorists that use this passage way to and from Boston everyday. This meeting addressed public safety concerns as well as improvements to the efficiency of the main routes of traffic flowing in and out of this square.
At several points during the presentation, Charlestown residents wanted to know more about the impact these traffic changes will have on the Town and less on how it will make motorists move across Sullivan Square.
Many in the audience expressed the frustration over fixes for the traffic flow around the square that go back decades. The subject came up shortly after the 1975 demolition of the Main Street “El” when the Orange Line was relocated to over by the rail yards and highway.
Most longtime residents remembered the pedestrian overpass from Schraffts’ factory to the old Sullivan Square Station. Many remembering the old overpass to Broadway and Mystic Avenue in Somerville.
Another question that consumed much discussion between officials and residents was that of the underpass going to and from Route 99 in Everett. Most in the audience seemed to be in favor of not dismantling it. It was explained that currently, traffic using the 99 underpass amount to 36 percent of all the traffic using the square as a passage way to and from work.
In discussing the need to retain the underpass option, Charlestown resident John Dillon told me that, “The underpass is a necessity to moving traffic through Sullivan Square, especially when you consider that the underpass volume equals 36 percent of the entire volume of traffic at this traffic junction.”
According to those running this community meeting, nothing is written in stone yet. All options are still being studied. Others in the audience questioned why Charlestown once again is to be sacrificed to fix longtime traffic issues in the Sullivan Square area.
Sullivan Square will only experience increased congestion as development near it such as Assembly Row, the new Partners Health Care building in Somerville, as well as development along Cambridge Street grows. The areas surrounding Sullivan Square Orange Line station will most likely see “Smart Growth” development and in time this area could look like what is taking place in the North Station/ Haymarket area today. More residents, more cars and more traffic.
Finally, in talking with Cookie Giordano, we both remember talk about fixing Sullivan Square over 30 years ago, yet nothing happened. Charlestown can expect more years of more studies and meetings and watching Sullivan Square traffic go from bad to worse.
The next in an ongoing series of public meetings will be held in February. The saga continues.