Boston Begins Construction on ‘Mass. Ave. South’ Protected Bikeway in Dorchester

A rendering illustrates the City of Boston's proposal to add a two-way protected bikeway on Massachusetts Avenue between Melnea Cass Boulevard and Columbia Road in Dorchester. Courtesy of the City of Boston.
A rendering illustrates the City of Boston's proposal to add a two-way protected bikeway on Massachusetts Avenue between Melnea Cass Boulevard and Columbia Road in Dorchester. Courtesy of the City of Boston.

On Monday, the City of Boston broke ground on its Massachusetts Avenue Better Bike Project, which will build a two-way protected bikeway along the western curb of Massachusetts Avenue from Melnea Cass Boulevard in Roxbury to Columbia Road in Dorchester.

That segment of Massachusetts Avenue is currently a wide, four-lane street with some on-street parking. The project will repurpose the westernmost lane of Mass. Ave. to create a two-way cycletrack – essentially a protected bicycle path, separated from traffic with low modular concrete curbs – along the western edge of the street.

Construction signage has gone up on Massachusetts Avenue near Edward Everett Square in Dorchester for the "Mass. Ave. Better Bikeway" project, which will install a two-way protected bikeway between Columbia Road and Melnea Cass Boulevard. Courtesy of the City of Boston.
Construction signage has gone up on Massachusetts Avenue near Edward Everett Square in Dorchester for the “Mass. Ave. Better Bikeway” project, which will install a two-way protected bikeway between Columbia Road and Melnea Cass Boulevard. Courtesy of the City of Boston.

The project will also add median barriers to block unsafe motor vehicle turning movements at some intersections, rebuild accessible curb ramps at crosswalks, and build five new “floating” bus stop islands between the new cycletrack and the rest of the street for the MBTA’s route 8 and 10 buses.

Planning for the project began in the fall of 2019. At that time, city officials expected the new bikeway would eventually tie into new protected bike lanes on a reconstructed Melnea Cass Boulevard, which would provide a protected bike route all the way from Dorchester to the Southwest Corridor.

The city cancelled a $26 million construction contract for the Melnea Cass project in the winter of 2021 after Roxbury neighbors organized to object to the project’s planned removal of over 100 mature shade trees.

There is an existing shared-use pathway that runs under those trees on the east side of Melnea Cass Boulevard, but it is in extremely poor condition.

On Wednesday, a City Hall official confirmed that that path would be resurfaced with fresh pavement later this year, in order to ensure that the path is usable for bicycle traffic when the new Massachusetts Avenue bikeway opens.

 

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