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Reconstruction of High-Crash Melnea Cass Boulevard Delayed to 2020

5:53 PM EDT on August 19, 2019

An architects’ rendering illustrates planned safety improvements for the intersection of Melnea Cass Boulevard and Tremont Street in Roxbury. Courtesy of the City of Boston.

Construction of a long-planned safety project for the Melnea Cass Boulevard in Roxbury has been delayed until 2020, according to MassDOT, and won't be complete until 2024.

Melnea Cass Boulevard, which extends from Columbus Avenue to Massachusetts Avenue in Roxbury, ranks among the city's most dangerous road segments. Its junction with Massachusetts Avenue near Boston Medical Center is one of the most dangerous intersections in the city and has been the site of several fatal crashes in recent years, including one in June.

The city and MassDOT began planning for a complete reconstruction of Melnea Cass in 2011, specifying in outreach materials that the project would seek to create "a pedestrian friendly environment with safe crossings" and include "bus rapid-transit and bicycle accommodation along the corridor."

After years of outreach, planners in late 2018 had agreed on a design that would install protected bicycle lanes, raised crosswalks at intersections, improved bus stops, and landscaped medians.

As of Monday, August 19, a city website for the project still states that the project is "on schedule to begin construction in summer 2019."

But MassDOT, the agency responsible for managing the project's construction, confirmed last Friday that the project would miss that timetable.

"The project is scheduled to be advertised for construction bids this fall," wrote MassDOT spokesperson Patrick Marvin in an email message. "Work related activities would then begin in spring 2020. The full project is expected to be completed by the end of 2024."

Becca Wolfson of the Boston Cyclists Union was disappointed to learn of the delay.

"To residents who are waiting for these lifesaving measures, six months of delay is a long time," said Wolfson in a phone interview on Monday (disclosure: Wolfson also serves on the StreetsblogMASS Board of Directors). "We've seen similar issues on the Commonwealth Avenue project in Boston and the Beacon Street project in Somerville. These big capital projects that the state is overseeing are falling behind, and someone needs to be held accountable."

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