After a very emotional community meeting to discuss South Boston traffic and pedestrian safety, it was clear that something needed to be done. Lifelong Southie resident Katie Donovan and her 8 year-old son Andrew were hit by a car in the crosswalk at Farragut Road and Broadway. “Six people have been hit by cars in South Boston since June, three of those people were children, one of those children was killed. And those are the ones that we know about, so many are not reported. We as moms and dads are afraid….afraid that we cannot cross Day Boulevard to go to the park or karate or cross Farragut Road after a baseball game,” said Donovan at the meeting held at the Tynan School cafeteria.
Back in 2013, Bill McDermott was killed crossing the street. “For five years, we’ve waited for you to do something,” pleaded Deirdre (McDermott) Habershaw, daughter of Bill. “And nothing has been done,” she directed to the panel of government and elected officials. Liam McDermott, brother of Deirdre, also spoke and demanded that something be done now.
When Jonathan Gulliver, public administrator for MassDOT was asked specifically about a timeline of when the traffic lights at L St. and Day Boulevard would be replaced, he replied, “A year.” A loud groan could be heard from the crowd.
Never underestimate the power of social media. Donovan continued to put pressure on MassDot, DCR and the City of Boston via social media – in particular, twitter. Although new to twitter, Donovan tweeted valid points and called out Gulliver specifically.
Last week, Gulliver reached out to Donovan, Habershaw and McDermott for a meeting. They decided to meet in person, sit around a kitchen table and talk. The meeting took place in Southie at a neighbor’s home. When asked who’s home, Donovan replied, “It was at a very good friend of South Boston who knows a thing or two about transportation.”
It’s not out of the ordinary for MassDOT to meet with community advocates. “Last week there were very valuable conversations about the improvements planned for Day Boulevard, said Gulliver. At the meeting it was revealed that work would begin the week of August 20th on Day Boulevard to improve traffic and pedestrian safety. “The state’s plans are being finalized and early next week we expect to have more details to provide to the public,” added Gulliver.
“I appreciate Johnathan reaching out to me and the McDermott’s. It’s certainly not something he had to do but he did it anyway,” said Donovan. “It proved to me that he was listening and now things are happening,” she added.
“I’m thrilled that work is finally happening! I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders,” said Habershaw.
“The McDermott’s have been fighting for these changes for five and half years. They are such incredibly strong people and to see them smiling after the meeting, truly made me happy,” said Donovan.
In addition to road milling on Day Boulevard, the DCR and MassDOT will be updating the traffic signals at L and Day Boulevard and improving pedestrian crosswalks will also take place. These improvements are in response to the feedback received from the DCR and MassDOT Day Boulevard Safety Improvement Project.