September 2, 2021
City planning officials last week released a guide outlining new policies governing the review of transportation and development projects in Mattapan. The initiative comes after community members told the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) they felt it was difficult to offer input into transportation improvements and other projects.
City officials hope the guide helps with recommendations for transportation goals and infrastructure improvements while allowing community members to have influence on the “Article 80” development review process.
Proposed developments that span 20,000 square feet, or come in at 15 residential units or more, have to go through the “Article 80” process.
The planning agency identified Mattapan as “historically under-served,” and in need of additional public resources. “Historically, the car-focused planning and design of the 20th century perpetuated and expanded inequities between white communities and Black and brown communities,” city officials wrote in the guide. “Some of Mattapan’s streets, like Blue Hill Avenue, were transformed during that period to make it easier for drivers to reach other places. This burdens Mattapan today with more speeding, higher crash rates, and more pollution.”
The document adds: “In Mattapan, Blue Hill Avenue, Cummins Highway, Harvard Street, and Morton Street have some of the highest crash rates in Boston.”
City planners are now focusing on improving access to transportation options amid the crashes and unreliable MBTA bus routes. Just 18 percent of Mattapan residents are within a 10-minute walk of a train station or key bus route stop, or spots for bike and car-sharing.
The guide outlines a number of potential measures to make the area more pedestrian-friendly, from curb extensions, creating an “S” curve in an otherwise straight street, flashing warning signs indicating pedestrians, and raised crosswalks, among others.
Officials are also weighing center bus lanes for Blue Hill Avenue, which could cut bus travel time to 25 minutes, from the current 50 minutes, between Mattapan Square and Nubian Square in Roxbury.
As for development projects, the guide says community members can weigh in on plans when developers come to neighborhood groups and associations, as well as when they are submitted to the BPDA and an impact advisory group is formed. Impact advisory groups can offer recommendations for mitigation of a project’s impact.
Planning studies are also underway in other areas of the city, including Glover’s Corner and Newmarket.
The Mattapan guide is available in Spanish and Haitian Creole on the BPDA’s website at bostonplans.org.