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Moving Boston in 2016 + Planning for 2030

March 13, 2016 10:00 AM
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Photo credit: www.frankmonkiewicz.com

By Alyssa Peck – Weston & Sampson

Photo credit: www.frankmonkiewicz.com

What a way to kick off WTS Boston’s 2016 luncheon series!  Guest speaker Gina Fiandaca, Commissioner of the Boston Transportation Department (BTD), provided attendees with an informative and exciting presentation on BTD’s responsibilities and key initiatives to move the City into the future.  Having worked with the BTD for more than 25 years, Ms. Fiandaca was appointed Commissioner of the Department by Mayor Walsh in January of 2015.  Her current responsibilities include oversight of the City’s transportation planning, traffic management and engineering, roadway signage, and parking enforcement.

With 800 miles of roadway and 500 traffic signals, 104 miles of on-street bike facilities, 8,000 smart meters, several municipal lots, and public transit, the scope of the BTD’s assets is diverse.  The BTD utilizes several tracking metrics to help guide the management of assets.  Ms. Fiandaca and her department are constantly leveraging technology to improve service to citizens and guests of the City.  She stated that all parking meters in the City are now equipped to accept both coins and credit cards, as well as the ParkBoston smartphone application.  Additionally, the BTD partnered with Waze, a community-based traffic and navigation application, in 2014.  They have leveraged this technology to monitor the real-time traffic impacts of changes made during pilot testing.

Ms. Fiandaca highlighted her five key initiatives: DriveBoston, ParkBoston, Vision Zero, Complete Streets, and Green Links.  DriveBoston was launched in the fall of 2015 and brings carshare into neighborhoods, with 80 designated spaces for both Enterprise and ZipCar.  ParkBoston is the City’s successful parking meter payment smartphone application.  In addition to paying remotely, this application allows the user to add time to the meter upon receiving an alert when time is nearly expired.   Vision Zero is the City’s flagship mobility safety effort and a commitment to focus its resources to eliminate fatal and serious traffic accidents.  Layering EMS data with police department crash data, the BTD can identify critical intersections where safety may need improvement.  Complete Streets is the new design guideline approach that puts pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users on equal footing with motor vehicles.  This initiative is intended to ensure that Boston’s streets are multimodal, green, and smart, improving the quality of life in the City.  Lastly, Green Links is a city-wide plan to develop a network of connected paths for people of all ages to use on bike or by foot.  The goal is to promote good health and peace of mind through increased physical activity.

In addition to their daily management responsibilities and implementation of key initiatives, Ms. Fiandaca and the BTD have their sights set on the future of Boston.  Imagine Boston 2030 is the city-wide planning process for the future of Boston, under the direction of Mayor Walsh.  Although there are several major initiatives in this program, Go Boston 2030, led by the BTD, is the long-term mobility plan that is intended to improve mobility throughout the City.  The three main principles of Go Boston 2030 are equity, economic opportunity, and climate responsiveness.  Ms. Fiandaca is looking to identify neighborhoods where residents are unnecessarily burdened by the high cost of housing and transportation; as well as underserved neighborhoods where job opportunities are difficult to access.  With the City’s proximity to the coast line, the program is also looking to limit the vulnerability of transportation assets.  Remarkably, Ms. Fiandaca indicated that 432 miles of roadway are at risk with a 7.5 foot storm surge.

Ms. Fiandaca wants to increase the safety, access, and reliability of the City’s transportation system.  The BTD has set forth an action plan involving the community, business, and political leaders to guide their vision forward.  With several engagement opportunities throughout the past year, Ms. Fiandaca has reached out to the community to understand their questions, concerns, and ideas regarding the City’s transportation future.  After receiving numerous project and policy ideas, Ms. Fiandaca and her team are reviewing the ideas to highlight those that will be effective in attaining Go Boston 2030’s goals.  This summer, Go Boston 2030 will be releasing an action plan that will recommend projects and policies, along with a capital plan and financing strategy.

It is encouraging to hear how Ms. Fiandaca has been engaging with the community and allowing the citizens to be a part of the transportation future for Boston.  With her enthusiasm for innovative initiatives that are helping Boston today and in the future, it’s hard not to be excited for the rollout of Go Boston 2030’s action plan.

 

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