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New development review guidelines launched to reduce traffic, congestion

The guidelines for new developments over 50,000 square feet will facilitate a more efficient and transparent development review process.

Mayor Kim Janey today announced that the Boston Transportation Department, in partnership with the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) and the Environment Department, has launched guidelines for new developments over 50,000 square feet, which will facilitate a more efficient and transparent development review process. As part of the new guidelines, developers of large projects must complete a demand management point system tool to increase access to sustainable transportation for their tenants. 

The transportation demand management point system provides developers with proven strategies to accomplish this, such as using subsidized transit passes, bike share passes, carpooling, car share, and parking pricing. This will result in fewer people driving from new developments. Developers may choose different combinations of strategies to meet the new requirement, and must submit them as part of the transportation development review process.

The guidelines also include new maximum parking ratios that model the amount of parking built based on a development’s walkability and mobility choices. The maximum ratios will urge developments in walkable, transit-rich areas to build less parking than developments with fewer mobility options. Building parking in Boston can cost up to $50,000 per parking space, and that cost is passed on to tenants, increasing housing costs. Instead, the money and space can be better used to build more affordable housing units and parks.

Traffic and Congestion

The new guidelines are a result of a two-year stakeholder engagement process and are part of a larger effort to create a more transparent, consistent, and certain process for transportation development review. The maximum parking ratios for new large developments can be found at

“As development grows in Boston, we need to keep working toward a City that works for everyone,” said Mayor Kim Janey. “These transportation management standards will help our City expand in the right way, by making sure building does not come at the expense of green space and encouraging use of public transit.”

“By reducing the number of required parking spaces in areas well-served by transit, we can lower the cost of new housing and decrease the amount of traffic in our neighborhoods,” said BPDA Director Brian Golden. “I thank the Boston Transportation Department and our planners at the BPDA for constructing these policies that will ensure that Boston grows in a more sustainable way, for both the environment and affordability of the City.”

The City of Boston has been committed to making transit, pedestrian, and bicycle improvements that promote the health, equity, and future of Boston’s communities. This includes installation of new bus lanes on high-ridership corridors and over seven miles of a connected network of protected bike lanes through the Healthy Streets program, which was developed as part of the City’s COVID-19 recovery efforts. Reducing congestion is in adherence with our Go Boston 2030 goals to reduce drive-alone rates in the city and increase the use of public transportation. Less congestion means fewer hours lost to traffic, better commutes, better air quality, and making the most of limited space on our roads.   

"The new transportation demand management guidelines will significantly reduce our City's carbon emissions and is a major step towards achieving our goal of carbon neutrality, as laid out in the 2019 Climate Action Plan," said Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space. "Through equitable transportation planning, we can ensure residents have more efficient commutes, cleaner air and a more sustainable future." 

These guidelines were developed with support from the Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Climate Challenge. The Climate Challenge is an initiative that empowers 25 of the largest U.S. cities to implement near-term climate goals and become primary drivers of progress towards meeting America’s pledge on climate. Recognizing that cities account for more than 70 percent of global carbon emissions – and that mayors have significant authority over cities’ highest emitting sectors: transportation and buildings – the Climate Challenge aims to enhance the work already being done by mayors across the U.S. and to support cities in the fight against climate change.

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