History of Fort Hill, Part 2 (2008). Mural by: Loray McDuffie, Taylor Saintable, Edwin Perez-Clancy, Christine O'Connell, Julia Andreasson, Jorge Benitez, Divah Payne, Lucy Saintcyr, Laua Dedonato, Gregg Bernstein.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A calmed Centre Street

Delightful portulaca flourishing at the switch-back onto Fort Ave.

Over the years the traffic on Centre Street between Eliot and Jackson Squares has calmed down. In the '70s when the street was wider and nobody parked on Centre Street, because nobody could afford a car, through traffic raced across this part of Highland Park at speeds of 35 to 45 mph. Two particularly dangerous spots were the crest of the hill at Linwood Street and the five-way intersection with Cedar St. and the switched-back Fort Ave.

Centre St was quicker to Dudley, North Dorchester, and the Southeast Expressway than going down Columbus Avenue. And, the reverse was true, too.

Over the years the street, which had been made wide for streetcars, was narrowed. Then, after a long, labored campaign with the city, a traffic light was installed to limit the weekly accidents at Cedar St.

Columbus Avenue was rebuilt and its grade raised, and the exciting traffic rotary that was Jackson Square was eliminated. No longer a straight shot directly into Jamaica Plain, Centre St. was bent almost at a right-angle at Highland St to make a perpendicular intersection at Columbus Avenue with Heath Street.

A truck prohibition was placed on Cedar St. (Careful readers will be happy to note that there is no prohibition on elk, but, to the contrary, they are explicitly permitted on Cedar St.)

Eliot Square was reconfigured and traffic lights were installed, further discouraging through traffic.

Then Centre St was repaved and made quieter because heavy trucks and fast-moving cars no longer went rocketing through the pot holes. Except for the short stretch south of Cedar and north of that little stub of New Heath Street, which remained crater-ridden.

But, just this past week even that stretch of Centre St has been repaved, making the road even quieter.

With the tinkering with the lights at Eliot Sq., giving east-bound Roxbury St. priority, and making through Centre St. traffic wait for 30 seconds for a green, it no longer pays to cut through Highland Park.

The next desirable disincentive may be to implement parking restrictions to cut down on the number of Orange Line commuters, Roxbury Community College students, and Friday afternoon Mosque worshipers who use Centre St for subsidized parking.

Perhaps a residents-only restriction from 8 to 10 am Monday through Friday and noon to 2 pm on Friday would do the trick.

It will be important to implement parking restrictions carefully. Most residents make use of on-street parking. Some run small businesses out of their homes and need unrestricted visitor parking.

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