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City Hall Seeks Outside Help to Plan Expanded Safe Streets Network

The City of Boston is soliciting outside consultants to help conduct public outreach and design work for safer streets on several corridors radiating south and west from downtown Boston, illustrated in this map of projects included in a July 2019 “request for proposals” document. Courtesy of the City of Boston.

The City of Boston is currently evaluating proposals from consulting firms to accelerate safety and non-motorized transportation improvements on several corridors, including projects to link the Southwest Corridor into downtown Boston, safety improvements on Massachusetts Avenue in Dorchester, and an eastward extension of the recent improvements on Commonwealth Avenue through the Boston University campus.

In a "request for proposals" (RFP) document dated July 29, the City of Boston advertised for "qualified consultants... to provide planning, engineering analysis, concept design, construction plans, specifications, estimates, and construction phase services" for several projects that have been identified as priorities in the city's GoBoston 2030 transportation plan.

The RFP stresses that the design for these corridors should become "high-comfort" bike routes that "follow the principle of separating bicyclists from high-speed, high-volume vehicle traffic," while also improving pedestrian access, safety, and comfort on the same streets.

The proposed contract also seeks traffic-calming designs for city-controlled crosswalks along the existing Southwest Corridor path in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury. "Potential modifications may include signal timing and phasing changes, curb ramp widening, raised crossings, pavement markings, median crossing islands, and other changes," according to the RFP.

The city's transportation department has added more than a dozen new staff in the past year to assist with planning and implementing GoBoston 2030 projects, but advocacy groups like the Boston Cyclists Union, WalkBoston and LivableStreets have expressed concern over the city's slow pace of implementing safety projects.

While this contract would still be managed and overseen by Boston Transportation Department staff, bringing in outside consultants to assist with these projects could preserve in-house staff capacity to implement other priorities.

The RFP document specifies a 36-month contract with an October 2019 start date, which suggests that the city could be in a position to begin construction on some or all of these projects by the fall of 2022.

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