Major transportation initiatives announced as part of the FY20 budget
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced his transportation investments in the City of Boston's proposed fiscal year 2020 (FY20) budget and capital plan, with a focus on improving safe, reliable and equitable transportation for all Boston residents. Building on Boston's long-term transportation plan, Go Boston 2030, the FY20 budget utilizes new revenue to make targeted investments in public space and improved mobility, including $2 million for bike infrastructure, $4 million to strengthen Boston's Walkable Streets programs, which equitably reconstructs sidewalks throughout Boston, and $8 million to improve the state of good repair on the City's bridges, roads, sidewalks and lane markings.
"Investing in transportation that works for everyone -- whether you walk, bike, take public transportation or drive -- is our key goal as we continue to improve transportation in Boston," said Mayor Walsh. "Creating an equitable city with opportunity for all means ensuring residents can move easily and safely around Boston, and these new investments, from bike lanes to reconstructed sidewalks, will go a long way towards ensuring Boston's streets and spaces safe, reliable and accessible for all."
The City's investments also include updates to how it manages metered parking spaces and new investments in Boston's streets. The changes in parking management build from the successful two-year pilot of performance parking in Back Bay and the South Boston Waterfront. Through this pilot, the City adjusted parking meter rates to improve the availability of parking and reduce congestion. Expanding this approach across Boston will not only make parking easier, but also generate additional revenue to improve Boston's transportation network.
Boston's performance parking pilot was launched in 2016 and focused on two areas with the highest parking demand in Boston -- the Back Bay and the South Boston Waterfront. Taking a different approach in each neighborhood, the City adjusted meter rates and observed the impact on parking availability. The pricing approach taken in the Back Bay, where the City applied a consistent price over a larger area, showed the most positive results, as double-parking decreased by 14 percent, and illegal parking decreased by an average of 22 percent. During this pilot, on average a parking space was available on every block.
Building off of the learnings from this two-year pilot, the City is making a series of updates to its parking meter rates, including:
- Parking rates in the South Boston Waterfront will be simplified, with the highest demand areas lowered to $3.75/hour and the average block set to $2.00/hour.
- Parking meter rates in two other high demand areas -- Fenway/Kenmore and the Bullfinch Triangle -- will be set to $2.50/hour.
- Parking meter rates in all other metered areas of the City, such as Beacon Hill, the Financial District and the South End, will be set to $2.00/hour.
These parking meter changes will go into effect on July 1, 2019. Even with these updates, Boston continues to have some of the lowest parking meter prices in the country, with other municipalities' hourly rates at up to $4/hour (Seattle), up to $6.50/hour (San Francisco and Chicago).
Residential neighborhoods which do not have parking meters will not see a change.
As a result of this improvement, the City expects that the benefits of smarter pricing will also reach these other areas -- it will be easier to find a parking space; there will be less illegal parking; there will be less double parking; all leading to less congestion and lower emissions.
With the additional revenue these parking changes bring, Boston will re-invest the funds -- estimated to reach $5 million -- back into creating equitable streets for all.
In addition to increased parking meter revenue, Boston is now in its second year of collecting the 10 cent per ride revenue from Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), like Uber and Lyft, which will result in about $3 million in funding available for transportation projects in FY20. In his legislative package, Mayor Walsh has also proposed further measures to encourage shared TNC rides, and reduce congestion in Boston. This TNC revenue will contribute to funding anti-congestion efforts Citywide, as well as safety and public realm improvements.
Together, these areas of new investment include:
More Equitable Streets: The City will increase its investment in both spot repairs of broken sidewalks and the full reconstruction of sidewalks. Strengthening Boston's Walkable Streets Program with a $4 million investment, funding will repair sidewalks throughout the City, including reconstructing corridors near the Orchard Gardens school in Roxbury and the Mather School in Glover's Corner, among many others. This complements the City's additional $200,000 operating investment in an innovative sidewalk repair pilot, which aims to more equitably reduce the backlog and create safer and more walkable streets.
$500,000 will be for the installation of four tactical plazas in the public realm that will help revitalize underutilized transportation infrastructure and make streets walkable spaces where people can convene, create, and experiment. Boston's Tactical Public Realm Guidelines focus on making "tactical" placemaking more accessible for all our neighborhoods, creating more nimble and standardized processes for the creation of plazas, parklets, outdoor cafes, and street murals along Boston's streets and sidewalks.
More Reliable Commutes: The City will invest $2.65 million in a series of projects to improve people's commutes. Of this investment, $1 million will go towards accelerating the design and construction of Boston's major bike corridors, including extending bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue to the Columbia Road and the Columbus Avenue bike lanes north to Downtown Boston. One million dollars will be used to accelerate the expansion of bike share infrastructure to outer neighborhoods in order to improve accessibility and reach the City's goal of 268 stations by 2022.
These funds also include $200,000 in additional support for Boston's ongoing bus lane program, including repainting the Washington Street and Essex Street bus lane corridors that serve the Silver Line 4 & Silver Line 5, and investing in a plan for improvements to Blue Hill Avenue.
$150,000 will be invested in the redesign of the Massachusetts Avenue intersection north of Melnea Cass Boulevard for safety and traffic improvements, including protected bike infrastructure.
$300,000 will be invested in traffic signal prioritization services as part of developing BTD's larger data collection and evaluation strategy. This will help with the strategic utilization of curb space and prioritize traffic signal changes to maximize the movement of commuters throughout the city.
- Safer & Cleaner Blocks: The City will increase its investment by $800,000 in Public Works staff, equipment and contracts to be able to maintain new infrastructure, such as protected bike lanes. It will also expand its investment in traffic calming equipment such as speed feedback boards, rapid flash beacons and flex posts, which help reduce fatal collisions in vulnerable areas in accordance with the City of Boston's commitment to Vision Zero.
- Greener Neighborhoods: The City will invest $300,000 in electric vehicle charging infrastructure at a pilot set of municipal parking lots to support and encourage residents who choose to purchase electric vehicles, aligning with Boston's Climate Action Plan.
Mayor Walsh has also focused the FY20 transportation investments on strengthening Boston's infrastructure, even at a time when federal support for infrastructure projects has weakened. This year's budget includes tripling bridge repair funds, doubling the Walkable Streets project, and expanding the roadway resurfacing work across the city. City-owned bridges are especially important. These vital connections allow people and commerce to move about the city, and replacing or upgrading them keeps Boston moving.
Major bridge investments include:
- Invest $6 million in capital bridge maintenance across the City, including on the McArdle Bridge, Walworth Street, Meridian Street, and Glenwood Avenue Bridges.
- Fund the reconstruction of the Dalton Street Bridge, beginning in FY20.
- Design and replace the Dana Avenue Bridge in Hyde Park.
- Complete design and begin construction on the new Long Island Bridge.
- Continue design on the Northern Avenue Bridge project.
- Continue construction on the North Washington Street Bridge.
For roadway safety, the City will dedicate additional funding to the Vision Zero project as the City aims to construct 15 Neighborhood Slow Streets, complete 15 miles of better bike corridors and fix 15 of the most challenging intersections in the next three years. The City will also continue to increase the investment in a citywide, multi-year campaign to bring all painted crosswalks, lane markings, bike and bus lanes into a state of good repair. Well-marked roads with appropriate insignia help to reduce collisions and make roads safer for all residents.
In his speech last month to the Boston Municipal Bureau, Mayor Walsh announced new initiatives and investments being made in Boston's transportation infrastructure that will help increase safety for all users of the road, ease congestion and provide more viable transportation options for residents, including reducing Boston's speed limit to 20 miles per hour, piloting ride-sharing pick-up/drop-off points, piloting new bus lanes, and providing MBTA passes to all students grades 7-12.
These continued investments and initiatives all align with the City's commitment to Go Boston 2030, the City of Boston's comprehensive transportation plan to build a safe, equitable and reliable multi-modal transportation network for all users of Boston's streets. To date, action has been taken on more than half of the 58 projects and policies identified in the plan. The investments will further complement Go Boston 2030 efforts that have been achieved to date.