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Cummins Highway

We're building an accessible, safer, and greener Cummins Highway in Mattapan. 

Public Works will reconstruct Cummins Highway from Fairway Street to the intersection of Harvard Street and Wood Avenue. We will completely rebuild the street, including sidewalks, curbs, street lights, traffic signals, road pavement, and replace or update utilities as necessary.

Cummins Highway hasn't been redesigned since the 1950s.  With the help of the community, we have a design that will serve residents for the long-term. The street will be safe for everyone, while still allowing traffic to flow.

Why are we rebuilding Cummins Highway?

Cummins Highway hasn't been updated since the spring of 1955.

The street cars that ran along Cummins were removed in 1953 to make room for more cars. The street's layout reflects the priorities of the 1950s: enable non-residents to drive quickly through our neighborhoods. 

We began this project in spring 2019. Over the series of meetings we hosted in 2019 and 2020, residents of Mattapan and nearby neighborhoods shared a clear priority with us: a reconstruction project must address safety along the corridor. The community's goal corresponds with the data we have collected. Cummins Highway is among the most crash-prone corridors Citywide between January 2015 and December 2017. We know that drivers regularly exceed the speed limit on Cummins Highway. In 2018, more than two-thirds of all drivers travelled at 35 MPH or higher. Vehicle speed is directly related to the severity of a crash. At 40 mph, a pedestrian has an 80% likelihood of death. The likelihood of serious injury or death is nearly 50% when hit by a driver traveling 30 mph. Elders, youth, and people with disabilities are even more likely to be seriously hurt or killed in a car crash.

In addition, Cummins Highway was not in great shape. It needed to be repaved and to have a modern street lighting system. Sidewalks were in often in poor condition, and curb ramps were not accessible. In the one-mile stretch of Cummins Highway in Mattapan, there were only 21 trees.

Accessible

New, smooth sidewalks and curb ramps mean everyone, including people with disabilities, will have an easier time walking and rolling on Cummins Highway. Rebuilt bus stops will have plenty of room for people in wheelchairs to wait, board, and get off the bus. Curbside parking will allow you to reach destinations on Cummins Highway.

Safe

We designed Cummins Highway in response to clearly stated community priority for safety. One travel lane in each direction, with additional lanes for turning, will help slow speeds while maintaining traffic flow. Crosswalks will be safer: people have a shorter distance to walk and pedestrians will be more visible. Dedicated space for bicycling will create order and reduce conflicts. All of the street lights will be be new and provide better visibility in the roadway and on the sidewalks.

Green

We will plant over a hundred new street trees and maintain most of our existing, healthy trees. We're also adding "green infrastructure" to manage water when it rains. All of these plantings will help to reduce the impacts of heat during the day and beautify the street for everyone.

Design Elements

We're working on the final details. We will share updated plans and information soon!

You helped us shape the final design for Cummins Highway. We met with you in-person at a series of public meetings and neighborhood meetings in 2019 and 2020. We then hosted monthly conversations about different design topics. We also talked with you on the street and at the Farmers Market. We heard about your ideas, preferences, and questions. Each conversation informed how we shape the final design plans for Cummins Highway. 

Some of the elements you'll see in our final design include:

  • Accessible sidewalks and safer crosswalks
  • Rebuilt roadway and a new roundabout
  • Functional and attractive street lighting
  • Green stormwater infrastructure and street trees
  • Convenient, accessible bus stops
  • Separated bike lanes
  • On-street parking

PLAN: Mattapan

On October 3, 2022, the planning team released its Draft of PLAN: Mattapan for public review and feedback. You can access a PDF version of the Draft of PLAN: Mattapan in EnglishHaitian Creole, and Spanish. 

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) works with people and communities across all neighborhoods of Boston to plan and build the future of the City. The planning department specifically works with the community to create long-term visions for places. PLAN: Mattapan is a neighborhood-wide planning initiative. The plan will strengthen the existing culture and stability of the community by:

  • supporting affordable housing
  • creating opportunities for businesses to thrive, and
  • enhancing connections to improve the neighborhood's experience accessing jobs and spaces where people gather.

PLAN: Mattapan has goals for housing, culture, environment, businesses, and mobility. Drawing from community members' comments and from Go Boston 2030, the planning team is working to increase access to high-quality travel options for Mattapan residents. The goals is for residents to safely and reliably connect to destinations within Mattapan and the rest of the City.

They worked with the community to identify "nodes," or places where commercial, retail, and residential uses are located. Nodes provide opportunities for people to gather and create a destination for the neighborhood. PLAN: Mattapan will identify corridors, routes, and other projects to improve access to these nodes — by bus, train, walking, biking, or driving.

The Cummins Highway Redesign is one opportunity to implement the values of PLAN: Mattapan, as communicated by residents and the goals of previous planning efforts.

On August 17, 2021, we hosted a virtual conversation with the BPDA. They talked about their work and how we collaborate. They also provided information about transportation planning that is part of PLAN: Mattapan.

Watch the meeting (English)

Download the presentation (English)

Download the Presentation (Haitian Creole)

Download the Presentation (Spanish)

Previous Meetings and Updates

Past meetings

We hosted regular community conversations to refine the design for Cummins Highway.

July 2021

On July 8, 2021, we hosted a virtual meeting to share information about the City's heat resilience study. We also discussed opportunities to address heat through the Cummins Highway Reconstruction project.

On July 21, 2021, we co-hosted a virtual meeting to discuss the ways transportation policies and design influence air quality. We noted potential design changes possible with the Cummins Highway reconstruction project.

August 2021

On August 17, 2021, we hosted a virtual conversation with the BPDA to discuss land-use planning. They talked about their work and how we collaborate. They also provided information about transportation planning that is part of PLAN: Mattapan.

September 2021

We hosted a meeting on September 21, 2021, to learn about the City's street lighting team. We discussed the type of street lights we plan to use when we rebuild Cummins Highway.

October 2021

We hosted a public meeting on Tuesday, October 5, 2021, to talk about public health and transportation. We were joined by Mary Bovenzi, Director of the Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Division at Boston Public Health Commission.

On October 19, 2021, Dave Queeley from Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation talked with us about green infrastructure. He talked about why green infrastructure is important and showed examples from the Codman Square area. He also shared information on the jobs training program he manages.

January 2022

On January 25, 2022, we talked about accessible bus stops. We discussed where bus stops would be placed on Cummins Highway once the street is reconstructed. We also talked about how we ensure every bus stop is accessible to people with physical disabilities. We gave an update about the potential for bus shelters and real-time arrival information.

February 2022

 On February 23, 2022, we talked about the Urban Forest Plan and street trees across the City. We discussed how we are designing Cummins Highway for new street trees and protecting existing trees in good health. You can explore information about existing trees on Cummins Highway.

March 2022

On March 29, 2022, we discussed how the City of Boston designs intersections across the City. Every intersection must serve different needs: people crossing on foot or in a wheelchair, drivers turning left or right, people continuing through the intersection, and cross-traffic, to name a few. We shared our initial design plans for intersections on Cummins Highway. We talked about some of the ways we are working to balance competing needs at intersections.

April 2022

At this public meeting, staff from the City's Age Strong Commission joined the Public Works Department to discuss the upcoming reconstruction of Cummins Highway. We learned about “Age-Friendly Boston” and discussed street design strategies that support people as they get older. We talked about specific aspects of the Cummins Highway reconstruction project that incorporate age-friendly street design.

May 2022

At our meeting on May 25, the Mayor's Commission for Persons with Disabilities talked about their work to create systemic access throughout the City of Boston. They discussed their policies, tools, and collaborations. We shared information about street design for people with disabilities.

June 2022

We co-hosted a meeting with City's Arts and Culture team on June 21, 2022. We discussed the process for public art in the City.

Cummins Highway was identified as a high-crash corridor based on the volume of injury-causing crashes that occurred in 2015, 2016, and 2017. It is among the most crash-prone corridors Citywide.

On Cummins Highway, drivers regularly reached 40 mph despite the 25 mph speed limit.

In October 2018, more than two-thirds of all drivers on Cummins Highway exceeded 35 MPH. This speeding was rampant all day: between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., two in three drivers traveled at 30 MPH or faster. Speeding rates significantly increased in the evening and early morning hours.

Vehicle speed is directly related to the severity of a crash. At 40 mph, a pedestrian has an 80% likelihood of death. The likelihood of serious injury or death is nearly 50% when hit by a driver traveling 30 mph. Elders, youth, and people with disabilities are even more likely to be seriously hurt or killed in a car crash.

We have data on traffic speeds from:

  • October 2018 (pre-pandemic)
  • August, September, and December 2020, and
  • May, June, and September 2021.

You can read about how we collect data and what we found when we compared the data from 2018 to the data from 2020. You can also download spreadsheets of the original data files.

Speeding on Cummins: August 2018 through December 2020

Speed Data Spreadsheets

From summer 2020 to fall 2021, we tested a design concept on Cummins Highway between Wood Avenue and River Street.

The temporary redesign of Cummins Highway helped us understand what worked and what didn't.  After a full year of trying it out, we were able to evaluate the impacts of a two-lane design on traffic capacity and travel times. Traffic volumes remained consistent with pre-pandemic levels. However, drivers travelled at much safer speeds than they had before the temporary design was installed. 

A bar chart shows traffic volumes on Cummins Highway east of Savannah. Data were collected on two consecutive days in October 2018, August 2020, September 2020, December 2020, May 2021, June 2021, and September 2021. In October 2018, the daily volume of vehicles was 17778 and 18472. Over the following collection periods, it was usually between 15000 and 16000 each day.

A bar chart shows percentage of drivers traveling at or above 35 mph on Cummins Highway east of Savannah. Data were collected on two consecutive days in October 2018, August 2020, September 2020, December 2020, May 2021, June 2021, and September 2021. In October 2018, the percentage of drivers traveling at or above 35 mph was 34.6 on the first day and 39.2 on the second day. Once the trial was installed (before August 2020), the percentage of drivers traveling at those speeds decreased significantly.

However, a pilot project did not provide all of the safety benefits we need for this corridor. For example, sidewalk condition and accessibility for persons with disabilities could not be addressed, nor could concerns about poor lighting.

Further, we learned that we must remove the center-running median. The median hindered safe passing of stopped vehicles, such as trash trucks, and raised concerns about impact on response time for our EMS and fire departments.

We gathered a lot of information from residents about what worked and what didn’t during the temporary redesign. The final design will address concerns the community have voiced, including removing the median for safe passing.

In October 2020, the trial was extended to American Legion. In response to the feedback we received from the community, the orange barriers were replaced with flex-posts and pavement markings. These changes improved visibility for everyone. We will continue to monitor traffic, gather data, and collect feedback to evaluate this new phase. 



 

You can watch a virtual presentation of the Cummins Design Trial (Phase 2). You will be able to hear from Jeffrey Alexis as he provides a project summary.

Two men hold a board while two others stand in front of them. They are talking about changes to Cummins Highway

Thank you to all who came to talk to us at the Mattapan Farmer's Market about the continuation of the Cummins Design Trial and the updates for phase 2.

We provided a handout that you can download about the project.

The first phase of the Cummins Design Trial was created to simulate the preferred design. Our goal was to improve safety along the corridor in response to COVID-19. The temporary trial extended from Fairway Street to the intersection of Wood Ave/Harvard Street. We used orange barriers to introduce protected bike lanes. We continued to maintain on-street parking and provide turn lanes at intersections. 

We monitored the traffic, gathered data, and collected feedback during the trial to evaluate the results. For more information, you can view the presentations below: 





The first phase of the temporary design trial was part of Healthy Streets Boston. Click the image to watch a short-explainer about the trial and how it happened.





Click the image to view a project update recorded on July 2020 about the first phase of the design trial.

We have been collecting feedback from residents. These comments influenced changes to the temporary redesign and will inform our final design plans. You can read what your neighbors have shared with us:

On Thursday, February 27, 2020, we held the third public meeting at Mattahunt Community Center. We continued the discussion of potential improvements for Cummins Highway. 

You can review and download the materials shared during the meeting.

On Tuesday, October 29, 2019, we held the second public meeting at Mattahunt Community Center. We continued the discussion of potential improvements for Cummins Highway. 

You can review and download the materials shared during the meeting.

On Thursday, April 11, 2019, we held the first public meeting at Mattahunt Community Center. We discussed potential improvements for Cummins Highway. 

You can review and download the materials shared during the meeting.

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