Campbell: Blue Hill Ave. conversation needed

Talks up dedicated bus lane and bus rapid transit

ADD BOSTON CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT Andrea Campbell to the list of officials talking about creating a dedicated bus lane along busy Blue Hill Avenue.

In a wide-ranging interview on the CommonWealth Codcast with three members of TransitMatters – Josh Fairchild, Jim Aloisi, and Jarred Johnson – Campbell said transportation is one of the top issues in her district, which covers parts of Mattapan, Dorchester, Roslindale, and Jamaica Plain.

“More and more people are paying attention to transit and transportation because they need to get to their jobs, or they need to get their kid to school, or they need to get someplace for a recreational purpose and they don’t want to be on a bus for an hour or two,” she said. “If we want them to connect to these opportunities, we have to have a really thorough and thoughtful conversation about Blue Hill Avenue – dedicated bus lanes, rapid transit, everything needs to be on the table.”

In March, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh accelerated the city’s efforts to launch dedicated bus lanes; Blue Hill Avenue was broached as a possibility at that time but city officials said more outreach to residents in the area was needed first.

Aloisi pushed for bus rapid transit service on Blue Hill Avenue in 2009 when he was serving as state secretary of transportation in the Patrick administration. That proposal had to be withdrawn in the face of community opposition. Aloisi has said building community support for such a project must be a priority.

“If we can unlock Blue Hill Avenue, it’s a master class in figuring out how to bring transit and social equity to a broad spectrum of people,” he said.

Campbell also talked about the need to reduce driving speeds, curb the number of crashes, and improve public safety.  She said an ER doctor who cycles around the city made a big impression on her when she testified at a transportation hearing from the perspective of someone who has been hit by a car and regularly treats people who have been hit by cars.

“She says we don’t respond to these crashes or fatalities the same way in which we pick up our trash,” Campbell said.  “If someone’s calling about trash and recycling in the street, we’re on it. We’re out there doing it quickly. She said yet when I’m calling related to an intersection that is creating consistent crashes, the response is not the same. This is a public safety emergency.”

Campbell said she thinks it’s a resource issue for the city – public safety departments need more money. Aloisi backed passage of legislation authorizing regional ballot initiatives, which would allow communities to raise transportation revenues on their own. He also called for requiring safety impact reviews for development projects; the reviews would be similar to the current environmental impact reviews except focused on public safety issues.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Campbell said she thinks the additional resources to address transportation issues could come out of the existing city budget, specifically out of funding for the school department. She noted the school department receives a third of the city’s budget and total spending is rising (up $26 million in this year’s budget proposal) even though enrollment is declining.

“Public safety issues are just as important,” Campbell said. “We can’t just keep waiting in this space because people are dying.”