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Silver Line Improvements: Downtown

In a corridor of many uses, we aim to minimize congestion and street chaos.

Currently, the Silver Line 4 and Silver Line 5 routes connect Dudley Square to the major employment, activity, and transfer hubs of Downtown, the Seaport, and South Station. These routes travel along Washington Street through Roxbury and the South End, before entering Chinatown and Downtown. Between Dudley Station and Herald Street, these routes travel in bus and bike lanes. This allows the bus to avoiding mixing in traffic, and gives riders shorter trip times. Unfortunately, these lanes don't last the entire way for either route. As a result, Silver Line 4 experiences severe delays and lengthy travel times between Herald Street and South Station. Silver Line 5 suffers similar delays between Herald and Downtown Crossing. 

With this project, we'll be working with the MBTA to provide dedicated bus facilities in Chinatown and Downtown. They will serve MBTA riders, Boston Public School bus riders, and emergency vehicles. We're supporting cyclists with a protected path, adding pickup and drop-off areas, and concentrating loading zones Downtown.

Stop by one of our Office Hour sessions to discuss the plan further.

  • Questions? Contact:

  • Intended Implementation Timeline
    1. Street Layout: Week of October 21
    2. Begin Painting: Week of October 28
    3. Install signage: Second week of November
    4. Begin enforcement: Late November

    NOTE: Due to prolonged bad weather, we've postponed putting this project in place until spring 2020.

Changes to Washington Street

Washington Street
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Bus improvements

Between Herald Street and the intersection of Stuart and Kneeland Street at Tufts, we will be replacing the right general traffic lane with a bus- and bike-only lane. We will keep all parking, pickup and drop-off, and current curb uses. North of Tufts Medical Center, the right curbside lane will be turned into a bus-only lane.

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Bike improvements

We will extend the shared bus and bike lane along Washington Street in Roxbury and the South End all the way to the intersection of Stuart and Kneeland Street at Tufts. North of this intersection, we are putting in place a protected bike lane along the left curb. Bike-only facilities will extend to the entrance into the pedestrian area of Downtown Crossing.

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Safer, concentrated loading zones

Much of the congestion and chaos on Washington Street is caused by disorganized loading. Our design creates a new, designated loading zone for an entire block along Washington, between Boylston Street and Avery Street. It also clarifies pickup and drop-off, valet, and commercial vehicle activity.

Changes to other streets


Essex Street
We are repainting the dedicated bus and bike lane on Essex Street that serves the SL4. Originally painted a decade ago, the bus and bike symbols and on-street clarity have faded severely. This lane will also improve service and reliability for Route 11.


Ave. de Lafayette
We are adding an entire block of pickup and drop-off space along the eastbound curb. This block will serve theater goers, tour bus riders, residents, and commercial activity. This space offers a safer option for curbside activity than is currently available on Washington Street


West Street
We are encouraging general traffic to use West Street to get to Tremont Street. We are also minimizing the vehicle queues on West Street by adjusting signal timing and opening up another turning lane.


Temple Place
will be open to authorized vehicles only. These include:

  • Temple Place residents
  • valet users
  • the MBTA, and
  • some commercial vehicles.
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