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There's a reason so many Boston avenues have wide medians

Trolley on Blue Hill Avenue in 1933

The Boston City Archives has a photo of a trolley running down Blue Hill Avenue on Jan. 3, 1933. Like Columbia Road and Washington Street south of West Roxbury Parkway, Blue Hill Avenue today has a median strip where the trolleys used to run.

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It's concrete and parking and the bus gets stuck in traffic.

Hooray!

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Voting closed 46

As I like to say

"but cars.. but parking" is always the answer to why we can't make it like this again.

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Every part of the built and proposed Silver Line has been a colossal disaster. Move on. Please

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Its the T's half ass implementation of BRT

Please go ride CTTrak in Hartford-New Britian or IndyGo in Indy. This is how BRT is suppose to be done. Not the Silver line.

Buddy who works for IndyGo came to visit and was horrified at the Silver Line. "this is BRT?" (says someone who is planning two BRT lines in Indy)

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WowX10. And aren't you the SL3 Chelsea guy who was tasked with BRT implementation in Chelsea? How on earth do you even speak about transit in Boston after the SL3 catastrophe?

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Sort of. It's not like the median is as wide as two trolley tracks. Much of the width went to general traffic lanes.

Meanwhile, new bureaucracy has made it harder to restore the trolley tracks. They now require a buffer zone as wide as a station platform between the tracks and the roadway, for the entire length of the line. Look at the rebuilt parts of Comm Ave for an example. This is just as much a waste of very scarce transportation real estate as the concrete median.

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Hyde Park Ave did not have a center reservation:
https://twitter.com/MBTA_HistoryOp/status/989235545619484674/photo/2

Reservations for streetcars in Boston were usually the exception, not the rulte. The majority of Boston El streetcar lines with the notable exception of Commonwealth Ave, Beacon Street, Huntington Ave., Columbia Rd, and Blue Hill Ave.operated in mix traffic.

1925 Boston El system map from wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Elevated_Railway#/media/File:1925_B...

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Although it wasn't a dedicated reservation, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest Hyde Park Avenue is wider than it would have otherwise been because of the tracks, and so the median, at least between Metropolitan Avenue and Forest Hills.

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Yes, a lot of streets were widened to add trolley tracks.

Back in the day it was feasible to widen a street for mass transit. Sometimes it even involved demolishing buildings

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Also include …

Brighton Ave, Seaver Street, Fellsway, which have of course now all been repurposed as car lanes. Combined with Commonwealth, Beacon, Huntington, Columbia and Blue Hill (as well as the Mattapan High Speed Line, which was and is still its own right-of-way) these accounted for many of the main trunk lines of the system. The M&B, of course, had the Commonwealth Avenue Line further out in Newton as well.

Other major lines, like Mass Ave in Cambridge, had "safety islands" so that passengers could wait mid-street and board the cars without blocking traffic, but which were not full reservations.

It's hard to know, but a large plurality of the system's ridership may well have been on lines which were partially or fully in medians or reservations.

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Look at the 1925 map and see how much was there that did not have reservations like Centre St. JP, Warren , Talbot, Bennington, Meridian, Bunker Hill, Highland Ave, Somerville Ave, Broadway Everett, Mt Auburn St. , Summer St., Broadway South Boston, Hancock St., Dudley St., Dorchester Ave, Geneva Ave, Neponset Ave, Adams St., Belgrade Ave, Tremont St. , Humboldt, Western Ave, River St., Trapelo Rd., Salem St Medford, Salem S. Malden, Ferry St etc

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I'm always amazed at how most of these roads still have the tracks buried just below 1-2" of asphalt. Extending the Green Line a few miles cost a $1 Billion but we still have tracks in some many places. Whenever one gets exposed in a pothole it's a reminder of the bad decisions made a few generations ago.

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Voting closed 36

Whenever the roads in and around Roslindale Square get re-done, you can usually catch a glint of rail.

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Even not in the city.. here in Chelsea, they redid part of the intersection near me, and it exposed the trolley tracks. They removed so much area that it was clear this intersection was a branching point of two lines (I know one was the 111.. which runs today)

They really did go everywhere..

but you know .. but cars. but parking

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Fields Corner too! They’re right under the parking lot of the strip mall on Park St.
Also cool are all the old cobbles stones under the asphalt on Freeport St.

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I'm never particularly sure about neighborhood boundaries, but I think this might be Mattapan: you can see a Tennis Road sign next to the building with a billboard in the larger image on their website, with Google Maps matching up with that location, and that's pretty south of what I'd consider Roxbury.

Blue Hill Ave certainly gets way narrower at its northern end, which presumably made it more difficult to keep this end running, but there were certainly better options than just turning it to concrete.

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in Allston Village heading towards the Harvard St. intersection. The wide median where the A line used to run, the tree lined sidewalk in front of the brick apartment buildings, and the storefront under the 7204 poster is a dead ringer for the current Spike's hotdogs joint.

I guess it's not just current times when an architectural style was repeated in many parts of the city.

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I was sure this was Brighton Ave.

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Bring back the trolley Arborway to Heath !

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I never thought of why the medians are so wide. I don't think I ever noticed it. Lets narrow the medians and make another lane. It could improve traffic.

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You think adding more cars will improve traffic?

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Exactly. Build it (parking, travel lanes) and they (traffic) WILL come.

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No, adding more lanes will give the cars more room to flow.

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Adding more lanes will attract more cars which in turn will cause even more traffic.
The only way to reduce traffic is to remove cars. Look up 'induced demand'.

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Blue Hill Avenue would be just as prosperous as Beacon Street, Commonwealth Avenue, and Huntington Avenue today.

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Hahahahaha. Yeah right because they’re weren’t other factors involved.

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Yeah, the definitive book on what happened to this neighborhood mentions a lot of causes, and replacing trolleys with buses was definitely not one of them

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How do you know?

There are plenty of neighborhoods near actual subway stations that aren't doing so well.

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location of picture

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