Bay City planners weigh K-Circle’s demise; Latest plan would eliminate vexing rotary

A rendering shows Dorchester Bay City at night with the current Kosciuszko Circle rotary replaced by a four-way intersection in the foreground. Image courtesy Accordia Partners

Kosciuszko Circle, named for the Polish hero who fought for the US in the American Revolution, is one of the region’s most despised rotaries, a scene of relentless turmoil as vehicles converge there from I-93, Columbia Road, Old Colony Avenue, and Morrissey and Day boulevards and try to move on their way in varying directions from inside the circle.

The developer behind the “Dorchester Bay City” project, which would bring four million square feet of office and research space to the area along with nearly 2,000 residential units, this week offered up a rendering that involves a potential fix long sought by local residents.

Dick Galvin of Accordia Partners said they have come up with a “simple” plan for creating a four-way interchange instead of a rotary, a concept that would also eliminate the Morrissey Boulevard overpass.

“I don’t want to say this is the idea, I just want to say there are ideas out there,” Galvin said at a public meeting focused on the transportation elements of the $5 billion project. Because of the size of the project, which could take 15 years to complete, city planning and development officials have held several different meetings on specific parts of the proposal.

Any fix for Kosciuszko Circle is ultimately up to city and state officials, who are studying the overall Morrissey Boulevard area as development booms up and down the corridor and climate change threatens Dorchester’s coast. A previous proposal for the circle involved a four-way intersection with traffic signals that was pitched by the backers of Boston 2024, a business-backed effort to bring the Olympics to the region that collapsed in 2015.

Monday night’s meeting on Bay City’s transportation proposals was the last public gathering on the project. The developers have said they hope to get before the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s board by this summer, and for construction to start next year.

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The developers behind the Dorchester Bay City project offered renderings that eliminated the rotary known as “K Circle.” They caution it’s just one concept, and the power lies with city and state officials on what it will ultimately look like. Accordia Partners image

Galvin said that Accordia’s aim is two-fold: Funnel money and energy toward building out the area, but in addition be the “squeaky wheel” that pushes transportation improvements to the finish line. Morrissey Boulevard, prone to flooding during high tides as rising sea levels hit the city, is expected to get an overdue makeover with city and state officials seeking consensus on the best fixes for Morrissey and “K Circle,” shorthand for the rotary named for the military hero Tadeusz Kosciuszko (pronounced koh-shuz-ko).

Dorchester Bay City also envisions changes to Mount Vernon Street on Columbia Point to make it more friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists. People leaving JFK/UMass MBTA Station by foot currently must cross up to seven lanes of traffic to get to the former Bayside Expo Center site, now a vast parking lot that Bay City developers hopes to build on.

The first phase of the project calls for $19 million to be spent on designing, permitting, and reconstructing Mount Vernon Street, making safety and operational improvements to Columbia Road and K Circle.

The dollars would be part of an overall $36.8 million that Bay City developers say is targeted for transportation improvements in the area. The rest would go toward bike-sharing and MBTA upgrades, as well as a “bank” that would include mitigation funds from other development projects in the area.

The project singles out $5 million for the “advancement of the design and permitting of the renovation” at JFK/UMass Station, which has seen structural issues that the public transit agency has scrambled to fix.

Bay City is one of several developments in the pipeline for the Morrissey Boulevard corridor. Residential and commercial space has been proposed for the parcels (35-75 Morrissey) located between JFK/UMass and the former Boston Globe headquarters, which has been converted into space for a fitness apparel company and biotechnology firms.

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