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In Municipal Research Bureau speech, Mayor Walsh highlights transit, climate plan updates

The Mayor also advocated for education finance reform that will help improve students' lives throughout the state.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today delivered his 2019 Boston Municipal Bureau Speech, as he 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. Mayor Walsh also announced updates to how Boston will reach its climate goals, and advocates for education finance reform that will help improve students' lives throughout the state.

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"We're working hard for our hard-working city -- and doing things differently in Boston," said Mayor Walsh. "It's our work that defines our vision for Boston, and from transportation, to the environment, to education, we'll continue to take on the tough challenges, and create a stronger Boston with more opportunities for the next generation to come."


Improvements to Boston's transportation and infrastructure
  • Lowering speed limit on city streets to 20 MPH: Mayor Walsh is proposing to work with the City Council and Legislature to reduce the speed limit on neighborhood streets from 25 mph to 20 mph. The speed limit was reduced from 30 mph to 25 mph in January 2017 as a way to improve roadway safety for people walking, driving and bicycling on city streets.  Studies show that there is a direct link between the speed that a vehicle is traveling when a crash occurs and the likelihood of a fatality or severe injury resulting from that crash. At 20 mph there is a 17% likelihood of a fatality or severe injury occurring, and that number jumps to 75% at 40 mph. Additionally, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a study  on Boston that showed by lowering the default speed limit, the City saw a 29 percent reduction in the number of cars travelling faster than 35 mph. The study affirms the importance of lowering speed limits as one of many tools to make our streets safer.

  • Pilot for adaptive traffic signals: the City is working on a pilot that will respond to real-time traffic conditions on our roads. This results in fewer stops at red lights, less traffic congestion and reduced emissions from idling vehicles. Due to the increase in bicycle, pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic in the South Boston Waterfront, adaptive traffic signals may benefit traffic flow and safety in the area. MassDOT, Massport, BTD and the MBTA are collaborating on the design of an Adaptive Signal Control Technology system in the South Boston Waterfront.

  • Citywide education campaign on road safety: the City will arrange for a citywide education campaign that will be available and accessible to all residents interested in participating. Safe travel now and in coming years is our first priority.  In accordance with our Go Boston 2030 Transportation Plan, this campaign will serve to remind everyone we need to be more mindful on our streets. It will include safety tips and best practices for getting around Boston's streets safely using all modes of travel.

  • Ride-sharing pick-up/drop-off designated areas pilot program: to assign Uber and Lyft pick-ups and drop-offs to designated areas. This month, the City will pilot our first pick-up/drop-off zone at Boylston Street and Kilmarnock Street. The zone will begin at 5:00 p.m., lasting until 8:00 a.m. each day. The goal of this pilot is to ease congestion caused by cars double-parking and to increase safety for passengers entering and exiting the vehicles. The City is currently working with ride-sharing companies, and both Uber and Lyft have agreed to support the City's pilot. The Boston Transportation Department will install signage to help drivers and passengers find the zones, and will evaluate the program to gauge its impact. 

  • Pilot of new bus lanes: on Brighton Avenue in Allston and North Washington Street downtown. The North Washington Street bus lane will be in effect 24/7 inbound from the Charlestown Bridge to Haymarket. Like the existing permanent bus lane on Washington Street in Roslindale, the Brighton Avenue bus lane will be in effect Monday through Friday during AM peak hours inbound. The City will also start a community process to improve bus service on Blue Hill Avenue.

  • MBTA Passes will be provided to all students grades 7-12: whether they go to public, charter, private, or parochial schools. There are approximately 20,000 students who currently receive free MBTA passes, and this proposal will raise that number to approximately 30,000 students. This move will greatly expand access to transportation resources for Boston students, allowing them to explore the city and the many opportunities it provides.

  • Advocating for Boston's proposed transportation legislative package, which works to support residents by providing investment in transportation infrastructure, reducing carbon emissions from motor vehicles, and providing for safer streets.

Updates to Boston's climate plan
  • Renew Boston Trust, a financing model built on future energy savings. Starting this year, Boston will use it to fund solar panels, LED lights, insulation, and more in our libraries, community centers, police stations, and firehouses. We'll keep growing the program. And we'll share our experience for private property owners to draw on as well, in addition to launching stronger reporting requirements for large and medium sized buildings, and asking for action plans as well as energy data.

  • Install electric vehicle charging stations in municipal lots available to the public, and make sure all new spaces in city parking garages support electric vehicles. Going forward Boston require that new private garages have chargers in 25% of their spaces, and 100% are wired for future capacity.  

  • Climate Ready Downtown and North End looks at how to protect those neighborhoods from future coastal flooding due to climate change. The City will host its first community open house for the project next week. Climate Ready Dorchester will launch this summer. When it's complete, Boston will have detailed resilience plans along almost our entire 47-mile coastline.  

  • In the 2020 budget, we'll meet our new target of 10 percent of all capital spending going to resilience projects. And we're moving forward with implementation at key flood points.

  • Applied for $10 million in funding for Fort Point Channel, in addition to city investments.

  • Martin's Park, Boston's newest public playground, will open in June. It will welcome children of all abilities, and provide the highest standards of flood protection. Moakley Park Vision Plan will be presented to the residents of South Boston. Boston will work together to make this 60-acre waterfront park a welcoming and protective community asset. Similar upgrades to Langone Park and Puopolo Playground in the North End begin this spring. 

Education Finance Reform for the Commonwealth

  • Mayor Walsh joined statewide efforts in proposing and supporting comprehensive education finance reform the Commonwealth's education funding formula so that it better serves all students throughout the state. Partners in this effort include: legislators, cities, towns, teachers, students, and advocates

Full text of Mayor Walsh's speech

Boston Research Bureau Transportation
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