Officials beginning to stir on safety issues at busy Morrissey Blvd. intersection
Safety concerns about the heavily trafficked intersection of Morrissey and Bianculli boulevards near UMass Boston,The Boston Globe, and Boston College High School, are drawing attention from residents and local elected officials alike.
One top lawmaker, Rep. Marty Walsh, said the state may need to “reconstruct the whole intersection” to alleviate the concerns about the crossroad that in addition to vehicular traffic also accommodates numerous pedestrians, given adjacent attractions like Patten’s Cove on one side of Morrissey Boulevard and the Harborwalk, which rings the university campus, on the other.
There is also a Vietnam War memorial setting on the harbor side a hundred yards south of the intersection, which currently has three of its four southbound Morrissey Boulevard lanes marked for turning left into the UMass campus, and one heading straight, toward the beaches at Savin Hill and Malibu.
This setup causes long single lines to form, often back to the beginning of the Globe property, in the one southbound lane at rush hour, which prompts drivers to shift over and access the rightmost UMass lane while continuing south.
As for pedestrians, getting across the intersection safely and ahead of the timing of the lights, is no mean challenge, according to Heidi Moesinger, a Savin Hill resident, who wrote a letter of concern to state officials, local politicians, and the Reporter. “When I press the button, I will get a walk light, but the way in which the road is set up, the majority of the cars, which are supposed to be turning into UMass Boston, go straight when I’m trying to cross that section of the street with my walk light,” she wrote while noting that the president of the Columbia Savin Hill Civic Association has also written a letter to the state.
State Sen. Jack Hart, whose district includes the area, said UMass Boston, the city of Boston and the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the city’s planning agency, must be brought into the discussion over the intersection. A short term fix, he said, could include better striping on the road while a longer term fix could mean capital dollars for any reconfiguration of the roadway.
Walsh, calling the intersection an “ongoing” issue, suggested eliminating a lane, leaving two lanes turning left to UMass and the third going straight.
The discussion comes as UMass Boston is weighing a re-working of its roads and revamping its campus with new academic buildings. DeWayne Lehman, a UMass spokesman, said the university “has been made aware of the traffic and safety concerns” at the intersection, which is at the entrance of the Columbia Point campus.
“One of the primary objectives of the work that we will be doing beginning next year to reconfigure our campus roadways is to create a more pedestrian-friendly campus,” he wrote in response to an inquiry from the Reporter. “We look forward to aligning our efforts with any changes or improvements that may be needed at the Morrissey Boulevard intersection.”
The Department of Conservation and Recreation, one of the state agencies Moesinger included on the list of letter recipients, did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment.