A small contingent of residents staged a “stand-out” last Wednesday demanding a meeting with state transportation officials in advance of a $3.5 million public improvement project planned for next year at the Morton Street/Gallivan Boulevard intersection.
Bundled in scarves and mittens, the protestors held signs that read “MassDOT Talk to this Community!” and caught the attention of motorists traveling the stretch of Morton Street near the Boston Fire Department station has become notorious over the years with numerous vehicular and pedestrian accidents.
Barbara Crichlow, past president of the West Selden Neighborhood Association and an organizer of the “stand out,” said that there has been a lack of direct communication between city and state officials and members of the community surrounding the plan to improve the intersection.
“They never tell the community what’s going on,” Crichlow complained. “I’ve requested for them to hold another meeting so that people around here can get an update on the plans, and I’ve been ignored time after time.”
Added Pearl Ellis, who said she has lived off Morton Street for 49 years, “We just want another community meeting. They don’t talk to us enough.”
MassDOT officials dispute what Crichlow and Ellis have said about the project, which has been in the works since 2010.
“At the request of the local community, MassDOT revisited aspects of this project after the 25 percent design public hearing and made several changes and updates,” according to a statement sent to the Reporter. “After the design was updated, MassDOT held public meetings and attended stakeholder meetings to discuss the design and project schedule. The design has not changed since this time. This project is currently being advertised for construction bids and bids are scheduled to be opened in January.
“MassDOT expects that construction will begin by the spring and please also note that MassDOT will hold a pre-construction public meeting.”
Dan Cullinane, who represents the neighborhood in the 12th Suffolk district, said that claims that the planning process ignored community voices are “disingenuous. There is a mandatory public meeting process that needs to be followed in order for a public improvement projects of this scale to move forward,” he said in a statement to the Reporter.
“Not only was that process followed for this project,”he added, “there were numerous additional local community meetings hosted by the West Selden Street and Vicinity Neighborhood Association, the community group which encompasses the streets where the project is taking place.
“This has been a transparent, community centered process from start to present, and will remain so through completion,” Cullinane said.
MassDOT is accepting bids on the project until next month, at which point a general contractor will be selected. After that there will be an important opportunity for community participation, according to Cullinane.
MassDOT officials say they expect construction on the redesign to begin in the spring.