The Wharf District Council’s Position on the State Street Project
The State Street Project, managed by the City of Boston DPW, calls for major improvements on State Street including: redesigning vehicle traffic lanes; accommodating bicycle traffic; determining space for vehicles to drop-off, make deliveries, allow loading and parking; and making sidewalks that meet the needs of pedestrians. The project covers State Street from the Greenway to Congress Street.
State Street is the primary roadway going west, linking the waterfront (both the Wharf District and the North End) to Boston Downtown, Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Cambridge and beyond. It is imperative that any new street design accommodate pre-COVID westbound traffic levels, as there is no viable alternative route.
The Wharf District Council supports plans that include two vehicle traffic lanes, ensuring that this street continues to provide sufficient westbound traffic and emergency vehicle access while addressing curbside access, narrow sidewalks, bicycle traffic, as well as bicycle and pedestrian safety.
Currently State Street has a temporary design set -up that reduces vehicle traffic lanes from two lanes to one lane and severely limits street space for vehicle curbside activities. This set-up also established a dedicated bicycle lane and widen the sidewalks on both sides of the street. This design and its implementation show no negative impact on traffic because of significantly reduced traffic due to COVID-19 restrictions. The negative effects of one vehicle lane will not be realized until the return of normal traffic levels, post-COVID.
The current “temporary” design, however, is negatively impacting curbside street usage. The new curbs are adversely affecting pick-ups, drop offs, delivery vehicles, and parking for State Street businesses and building tenants.
The Wharf District Council’s position is that State Street must have two lanes for traffic. The traffic congestion experienced with two lanes, before COVID-19, clearly demonstrates that one lane would not be viable. Additionally, sufficient street space for curbside activity must be part of any new street design. The lack of space for curbside use will negatively impact businesses and residents and could cause tenants and retail to leave this area. Dedicated bicycle lanes going west must be located on other streets in this area.
The street design must be based on traffic studies showing vehicles counts reflected during daily non-COVID State Street utilization.
We need a State Street that will benefit all – residents and citizens of Boston, businesses, hotels, and restaurants located on and in the area of State Street, commuters, visitors and tourists.
We need a State Street that works for all modes of transportation and emergency vehicles going west, as well as pedestrians.
The Wharf District Council appreciates the project team and their efforts and want to work with them to come up with the best possible design.