The Codcast: Boston’s chief of the streets, Part 2

Everyone talks about equity these days. Pay equity, gender equity, racial equity. You can add to that list mobility equity and neighborhood equity, areas that are affected by all other social and economic equity issues.

Chris Osgood, Boston’s chief of the streets, says successful transportation planning now has to start at those equity points in order for the city to have a viable system that meets everybody’s needs. In a conversation with Josh Fairchild and Jim Aloisi of TransitMatters for The Codcast, Osgood detailed what Boston’s hopes and plans are for a multi-modal transportation system in a city where as many as 60 percent of the residents don’t own cars.

In Part 1 of the two-part conversation last week, Osgood spoke about the bigger picture of “Go Boston 2030,” the Walsh administration’s blueprint for neighborhood needs. This week, Osgood drilled down into some detail, including the need for an all-night bus service, expanding so-called “urban rail,” and bringing better and more reliable services to Boston’s outermost neighborhoods.

Aloisi, a fervent proponent of all-night bus service, observed Boston “is not the city that rolls up its sidewalks at night anymore. It’s a 24/7 city now,” a point on which Osgood concurred. But both made note it’s not just the night owls looking for rides to their favorite night spots.

“It’s the folks commuting to and from work, with very little public option,” said Osgood. “We have 60,000 people commuting to and from work during those hours. There is a large constituency that we can serve.”

Osgood also talked about the need to bolster the Fairmount rail line. He said city officials are cautiously optimistic about the MBTA’s pilot program to add a rail link to Foxborough to the Fairmount Line to give Boston residents the chance to find job opportunities along that stretch where there is limited service to and from the city. But he also expressed reservations about the potential for the pilot service to have a negative impact on reliability for a line that is the only resource for many city residents.

“The Fairmount Line is serving a lot of neighborhoods that have really long commutes,” he said. “This is a line that is within a 10 minute walk of a very large portion of the city of Boston.”

One area Osgood said can make a big impact in speeding up public transit in underserved neighborhoods is instituting “traffic signal priority” for buses and surface rail such as the Green Line on Commonwealth Avenue. Traffic signal priority, which is already in use by public safety vehicles such as ambulances and fire trucks, is a device that allows a vehicle to switch traffic lights to red for all other traffic while it goes through an intersection unimpeded with a green light. Osgood said initial tests with Silver Line buses and Green Line cars have proven effective.

Osgood talked about the progress of building a replacement for the Washington Street Bridge between the North End and Charlestown, which will include a dedicated bike lane. He also said the city is eyeing improvements in moving buses along the Washington Street corridor between Roslindale Square and Forest Hills as well as upgrading the pedestrian and bike paths at the Arnold Arboretum gateway along the Needham commuter rail line into the city.

Fairchild brought up the idea that has been broached by others to either extend the Orange Line into the Roslindale area or build a station to allow service by the Franklin commuter rail line. While Osgood said both ideas are worth study, they won’t easily solve immediate needs.

“It will not be quick no matter what way it happens,” he said.



A “right to die” bill will be considered at a Beacon Hill hearing slated for next Tuesday, while the Massachusetts Medical Society, long an opponent of such a measure, is polling its members on the issue. (Boston Herald)


A Globe editorial says there is no justification for Boston’s drawn-out delay in setting forth a policy on use of police-worn body cameras.

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Cities and towns are making plans to cash in on retail marijuana sales (except for the ones that have banned the shops). (Boston Herald)

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh says the city will “work something out” with the family of a 7-year-old boy who drowned a year ago at a city-run day camp; the family announced yesterday they are suing Walsh and the city. (Boston Herald)

The head of failed IndyCar race is suing Boston for $15.5 million, alleging that the city acted deceptively and unfairly in its dealings with race organizers. (Boston Globe)

A Foxboro library exhibit on censorship is censored after complaints about inappropriate content. (Sun Chronicle)

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The private Fall River Office of Economic Development voted to retain its executive director despite what the board chairman claimed was a demand by Mayor Jasiel Correia to fire him. Correia, who has been battling the business-funded organization, called the claim “a complete and total lie” and said he has a text that proves the group initiated the offer. (Herald News)


North Korea’s Kim Jong Un calls President Trump a “mentally deranged US dotard.” (Time)

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Facebook has reached an agreement with Congress to turn over about 3,000 political ads that appeared on the social media site during the 2016 election that were paid for by groups connected to the Kremlin. (U.S. News & World Report)

President Trump is set to ease restrictions on drone strikes and commando raids enacted by the Obama administration on targets outside of conventional battlefields. (New York Times)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a speech in Boston, says unaccompanied minors coming across the country’s southern border are often “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” (Politico)

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WBUR looks at development and how that issue is central in the race for mayor in Boston.

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Bridgewater State University officials are investigating an English professor’s Facebook posts, since removed, in which he vilified Trump voters, spewed profanities at them, and labeled them all KKK sympathizers. (The Enterprise)

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