The North End, a neighborhood within Boston, is the city’s little Italy. Filled with great restaurants, American historical sites, and bars and lounges frequented by celebrities. In the spring and summer months The North End is a major tourist attraction and this adds additional pedestrian traffic and vehicle traffic to the crowed narrow roads and sidewalks. However, six Northeastern University civil engineering seniors have a solution — seasonal, portable sidewalks.
The idea is to place removable sidewalks on both side of the major North End road Hannover Street during the peak tourist months. The sidewalks would add seven additional feet on either side of the road for foot traffic and other uses. The removable sidewalks would also funnel traffic much more manageably down Hannover Street. Removable sidewalks are already in use in some major American cities like NYC.
The project is pedestrian focused with the goal to encourage walking, and to ease up pedestrian congestion, in one of the oldest parts of Boston. The Northeastern students also created as part of their plan special commercial zones that would discourage delivery vehicles from double parking on Hannover Street. Additional parts of the plan included more accessible bike racks and reorganizing parking spots on Commercial Street to make room for additional spaces.
The project was part of a capstone class for the engineering program. The goal of the capstone is make a more “complete street” with a better balance of space for the movement of people and goods which impacts economic development and a residential goal of the creation of a place in which people want to stay. The project was presented by the students and Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina, Massachusetts State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, and Boston’s Commissioner of Transportation Thomas Tinlin were in attendance and commended the students for their work.
I have lived in Boston’s North End for years and I think this would be a great idea. Aside from the fact that no one likes to have an idling car outside of the restaurant you are eating at; the roads of the neighborhood were originally cart paths and foot paths, as were many of the streets of Boston – they were not built with cars in mind. With the increased foot traffic of tourists when the warmer weather comes, the addition of the regular delivery trucks for the restaurants, and the odd street festival every now and again the narrow streets and sidewalks get crowed fast. Additional walking space would be welcomed, plus the restaurants could use the additional space for seasonal outside seating. After all, Boston is not known as America’s walking city for nothing .
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison