Mayor Walsh's budget proposal invests in safe travel on City of Boston streets
April 14, 2016
Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced that strong measures aimed at ensuring safe and reliable travel on City of Boston streets will be a key component in his administration's proposed fiscal year 2017 budget that was presented to the Boston City Council yesterday morning. A total of $3.1 million is proposed for Vision Zero in FY17 and $9.3 million over the next three years. Vision Zero is an international initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries. The City is also making additional investments in traffic signal and bike infrastructure. The budget calls for $2 million in FY17 for the City's vast traffic signal network to ensure that appropriate maintenance, re-timing and upgrading may be accomplished in the upcoming year. Another $900,000 is allocated to advance the City's strategic bike network.
"It is important that our transportation infrastructure provides the best and safest way for people to travel throughout the City of Boston," said Mayor Walsh. "Ensuring the safety of all of our residents and visitors is a top priority and these investments will help bring us one step closer to achieving Vision Zero and creating safer streets across our city."
"Our streets should be welcoming and beautiful, and getting around our city should be predictable and comfortable," said Chris Osgood, City of Boston Chief of Streets. "That work - and this budget - starts with making our streets safe for everyone, whether you are walking, biking, taking the T or driving."
In the spring of 2015, Mayor Walsh committed to Vision Zero and appointed an inter-agency and inter-disciplinary Task Force that worked to produce an Action Plan by December. The Action Plan summarizes the progress that has been made to date and outlines the steps that will be taken to achieve the City's Vision Zero goals.
The creation of a Rapid Response Team is one action item that has already been implemented. The Team, made up of Vision Zero Task Force members, now responds to critical and fatal crash locations to analyze the cause of a crash and gain insight to bring about corrective action. Recent progress also includes the introduction of a Transportation Safety Concerns Map, an online tool that allows visitors to identify locations where they have concerns about traffic safety.
Upcoming plans identified in the Vision Zero Action Plan include:
- Piloting the Neighborhood Slow Streets Program in Dorchester's Talbot-Norfolk Triangle and the Stonybrook neighborhood in Jamaica Plain;
- Advancing legislation to reduce the citywide default speed limit;
- Investing in new infrastructure along Massachusetts Ave. and in Codman Square;
- Tackling the issues of distracted and impaired driving.
The City of Boston has recently been selected as one of 10 U.S. cities to participate in the Vision Zero Focus Cities Program, a new initiative developed by the national Vision Zero Network. Along with Austin, TX; Washington, DC; New York City, NY; Chicago, IL; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Seattle, WA; Portland, OR; San Francisco, CA; and Los Angeles, CA; Boston was selected in recognition of the City's leadership and innovative work toward achieving Vision Zero goals that will change the way that safe mobility is prioritized.
The $2 million proposed for Traffic Signal Improvements will also work toward the achievement of the City of Boston's safe, reliable and accessible streets priority. Currently, there are 849 signalized intersections operated by the Boston Transportation Department. A multitude of traffic signal poles, signal heads and bulbs, pedestrian pushbuttons and embedded sensors is located at each of these intersections. In addition, cable connects 556 of these intersections to the Traffic Management Center at City Hall providing City of Boston Traffic Engineers with the ability to remotely adjust traffic signal timing at these intersections to accommodate traffic congestion, special events and emergency situations.
"Our traffic signal systems is complex, and frequently updating all of our equipment and keeping it in good working condition at all times is crucial to the effective functioning of our streets," said Boston Transportation Commissioner Gina N. Fiandaca. "The proposed investment in traffic signals will assist BTD in our efforts to provide a traffic signal system that safely and equitably ushers all users of Boston's streets to their destinations."
Completing a comprehensive retiming of traffic signals at every intersection in the City of Boston at least once every five years is an objective that will benefit from this additional funding. New traffic signal timings are based on current data gained from traffic studies that count the number of people walking and riding bikes, as well as the number of all types of motor vehicles traveling through an intersection in a given period of time. Signals are retimed to accurately reflect current activity and travel patterns resulting in signals that minimize stops and delays, decrease fuel consumption and air pollution emissions, and promote safe, efficient and progressive movement through the intersection.
BTD recently completed the retiming of traffic signals at 18 intersections in Dorchester and anticipates the project will reduce total delays by 10-14%, and decrease emission and fuel consumption by 8% at those 18 locations. Traffic signal retiming projects will also take place in Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale and Brighton in the coming months. In FY15, BTD retimed traffic signals at 115 locations which included, among others, 62 intersections in the Back Bay, as well as signals on Atlantic Avenue, Seaport Boulevard, Kenmore Square, Bennington Street in East Boston, Hyde Park Avenue, and Massachusetts Avenue.
For more information on Vision Zero please visit www.visionzeroboston.org and for more information on the City of Boston's traffic signal system please visit http://www.cityofboston.gov/transportation/TME/