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To Address Traffic Congestion, Allston Considers Designated Bus Lanes

Honk if You Hate Traffic
A traffic-related protest in Allston last month.
Amid traffic congestion concerns, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is considering a trial run of a designated bus lane connecting West and South Allston.

The proposed bus lane was announced at an Allston Construction Mitigation Subcommittee meeting two weeks ago. Steve A. Borne, a Boston police officer from District 14, said at the event that the MBTA will spearhead a trial “zip lane” for buses on Brighton Ave. The lane would extend between the Jackson-Mann school to Harvard Ave.

Traffic and transit issues have been a common theme at Allston community meetings over the past several months. Allston residents have asked Harvard to support incorporating more open space and bike paths to the University’s development plans in the neighborhood.

Harvard’s proposals for its properties in Allston include building an “enterprise research” campus to promote entrepreneurship. The University first proposed developing a 36-acre lot of land in Allston to an innovation hub in 2011. In Dec. 2017, Harvard officially filed plans for the entire campus with the Boston Planning and Development Agency, the city’s urban planning body.

Monica Tibbits-Nutt, a freshman proctor and a member of the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board, said she believes having designated bus lanes in Allston could reduce traffic congestion in the area.

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“Not only do [designated bus lanes] obviously speed up the commute of the buses, but it actually speeds up the traffic itself, because you’re removing the amount of weaving in and out,” she said. “What creates congestion is the weaving in and out of traffic—the more lanes you add the worse the congestion actually gets.”

Tibbits-Nutt added these bus lanes would create a safer environment on the roads.

“From a safety standpoint, having less of this merging in and out just makes our roadways significantly safer, and I think the residents would benefit from it, whether you’re on the bus or in your car,” she said.

Tibbits-Nutt noted that the MBTA would like to implement designated bus lanes throughout the Commonwealth, but for now, designated bus lanes in Allston, at least, were still “just a suggestion.”

“It has not come before the board,” she said. “We’re probably just going to have a boatload full of questions, and it’s going to be a lot of back and forth before we would ever have it come to a vote.”

“If we can do it from an engineering standpoint and we can do it from a safety standpoint, I’m going to push for it because I think it’s the best decision we can make to make that interchange a lot better,” Tibbits-Nutt added, noting she planned to support the proposal.

University representatives declined to comment on the possible bus-only lane.

—Staff writer Truelian Lee can be reached at truelian.lee@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @truelian_lee.

—Staff writer Jacqueline P. Patel can be reached at jacqueline.patel@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @jppatel99.

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