Testimony as prepared for City of Boston City Council Budget Hearing on Public Works and Transportation

Testimony as prepared for City of Boston City Council Budget Hearing on Public Works and Transportation

Testimony as prepared for City of Boston City Council Budget Hearing on Public Works and Transportation, May 7, 2020 conducted via Zoom.

Thank you for the chance to speak today. My name is Brendan Kearney, and I’m the Deputy Director of WalkBoston. 

Earlier this week, MassDOT reported that the rate of fatalities on Massachusetts roadways doubled in April: with 50% less traffic on the road, 28 individuals died in crashes, compared with the month of April 2019 when there were 27 deaths on roadways in the state. This highlights why the safety projects identified for funding here are important. 

The BTD staff expansion over the last two budget cycles is now showing dividends: Many projects those team members started on are moving to implementation. There is a need to keep working to make our streets safer for people walking; safety projects in the public works and transportation budget are moving us in the right direction.

I wanted to highlight a few things from the budget & Transportation Priorities overview:

  • 1st: Great to see Tremont Street has construction dollars in the coming year.
  • 2nd: Very glad to hear that “$2 million for a Safety Intervention Program on Neighborhood Streets, which will help us evaluate and act on all resident 311 safety requests” is part of the budget. It would be great for more clarification around this, and how it will be equitably implemented similar to sidewalk repairs in the Walkable Streets Program. This could be a way for spot improvements like speed humps at dangerous intersections or on streets that may not be a good fit or eligible for the Neighborhood Slow Streets Program. 
  • 3rd: Thank you for continued work toward accessibility for all, with “Newly expanded pedestrian ramp plan that doubles number of ramps installed” & adding an ADA Coordinator to Public Works. 
  • 4th: We’re hopeful on the item “$150,000 to improve the Pedestrian Signal Retiming Program in order to retime more of our most dangerous intersections in a more equitable manner.” This could be a step in the right direction of the GoBoston2030 goal of pedestrian-prioritized signals, especially good to hear about the goal of POLICY changes. 
  • Finally, echoing Eliza and Louisa about the Northern Ave Bridge: WalkBoston, LivableStreets, and the Boston Cyclists Union asked last night that the City commit to a bridge design that is only open to pedestrians, bicycles, and emergency vehicles. That was not reflected in last night’s meeting. We are asking City Council not to approve the Northern Ave Bridge project in the budget until this commitment has been made. The scale of funding for the safety projects I just mentioned throughout the city pale in comparison to the estimated dollars for the current iteration of this proposed bridge.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

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