The two hour meeting to discuss South Boston traffic safety began at 6pm at the Tynan School. Almost 500 concerned resident packed the cafeteria to talk about traffic and pedestrian safety. This meeting was organized by local elected officials after the death of 2 year-old Colin McGrath who was killed after a van struck him at intersection of L and 6th.
Pre-meeting, neighbors and residents wore bright yellow shirts that read “Drive Slowly” and walked together crossing intersection by intersection in the crosswalks bringing rush hour traffic to a stand still. Police Commissioner Willie Gross participated in the march as well, in addition to Senator Nick Collins, and candidates Matt Rusteika and David Biele who are both running for State Rep.
The meeting was set up with a panel on the stage and led by Michael Donovan, clerk of courts and South Boston resident. Public officials including representatives from the MassDOT, Boston Transportation Department, Mass State Police, Boston Police Commissioner Willie Gross, Congressman Stephen Lynch, City Councilor Michael Flaherty, City Councilor Ed Flynn, City Councilor Michelle Wu, City Councilor Annissa George, and Senator Nick Collins sat on the panel. After brief introductions and discussion of safety measures already put into motion on L Street, the microphones where turned over to the crowd to express concerns, ideas and in some cases anger and frustration.
Much of the discussion was about the notoriously busy and dangerous roads in Southie like L St., Day Boulevard, East and West Broadway, Old Colony Ave and Farragut Road to name a few. Double parking, bike lanes, potential one-ways, and blocking the block were all topics that discussed. Speed, failure to let pedestrians cross, lack of traffic enforcement and traffic in general were also discussed. The panel stressed they were listening to the crowd’s concerns and would work to improve traffic and pedestrian safety.
Here are some standouts:
After Police Commissioner Gross was introduced he received a standing O from crowd.
The most powerful testimony came from Katie Donovan – who was hit by car crossing the street with her son back in May and Deirdre and Liam McDermott whose father was killed crossing Day Boulevard back in 2013.
When it was announced that Mayor Marty Walsh would not be in attendance, the crowd boo’d.
State Rep. Candidates both had mic time. David Biele asked for change when it comes to pedestrian safety. Matt Rusteika referenced the powerful testimony of Katie, Liam and Deirdre and then asked the panel if there was a timeline in place for the safety changes that the panel mentioned. BTD stated changes were already happening and referenced L Street. MassDot said that the traffic lights on Day Boulevard would begin in a year.
The need for safe bike lanes was brought up a few times.
The congestion at L and 5th and the double-parking nightmare intersection was mentioned by a lifelong resident Mary O’Toole.
Another lifelong resident Bubba Cahill asked for enforcement from the State Police in regards to people cutting up I Street during the restricted hours of 6am-9am. He set up his own sting and counted 25 cars without resident stickers using I St. as a cut through.
A very emotional 82 year-old Ray who lives at L and 6th tearing up and breaking down recalling the tragic accident that killed Colin McGrath. He stated that it was the 3rd accident in 3 days.
City Councilor Ed Flynn mentioned his 12 Point Traffic Safety Plan. You can read about it here.
Commissioner Gross said he’s considering a traffic division for his department. He also said he would reach out to Transit Police Chief Kenneth Green and State Police soon to discuss ways to improve safety conditions.
The meeting concluded with Mike Donovan – who did a great job by keeping things in order and upbeat – thanking the crowd for being engaged and respectful.
Let’s hope change happens quickly!