The Innovation District Is Getting Some Upgrades to Alleviate Traffic Problems

The city and state are implementing some changes to help new residents and businesses moving to the area.


Seaport District, Boston, MA

Finding a place to park in the Innovation District is about to get easier.

City and state officials are taking what they call “proactive steps” to improve traffic, public transit, biking, and walking options throughout the growing waterfront property as more businesses and residents start to trickle into the area.

The improvements, which include re-striping the road surface on the Moakley Bridge, a major route in and out of the district to guide motorists to travel lanes to I-93, as well as “improving the pedestrian experience,” was unveiled by Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary Rich Davey, along with Mayor Tom Menino, on Wednesday.

Plans to alleviate traffic headaches and commuter gridlock include the implementation of “smart parking” sensors, in coordination with Massport, along Seaport Boulevard and Congress Street, which will show drivers the available parking spaces via a smartphone app so that they can avoid driving around aimlessly as they search for a place to put their vehicle.

Officials will also be studying traffic-signal timing and lane configurations at Atlantic Avenue and Seaport Boulevard, Sleeper Street and Seaport Boulevard, and 63 other signalized intersections along the Greenway and in the Innovation District to ease up on gridlocking and traffic headaches.

Those not traveling by car can try out the city’s bike-share program in order to get around the district after the additional Hubway stations are put in place next spring.

The MBTA is also doing their part to make sure people aren’t stuck walking the entire stretch of land between spots like the Convention Center, and the residential areas of the district. Efforts are underway to improve public transit on key commuter bus lines such as the 4 and 7 within the next year.

Off the roadways, with the assistance of a $1.28 million US Department of Transportation grant, the state is procuring two ferries and adding service between South Boston and East Boston, which will launch in 2014.

“The Innovation District has become a busy and thriving mix of business, industry, cultural attractions, restaurants, and residences,” Menino said in a prepared statement. “The steps we are taking today—and planning for the future—to connect it with the rest of Boston will make it even more attractive and accessible to companies, their employees, residents, and visitors.”

In August, the Globe revealed a “snarl” in the district as people started noticing gridlocked traffic leading in and out of the area at certain points during the day.

Since Menino has invested so much time in trying to make the Innovation District a viable place for people to bring their business and live, officials wasted no time assuring new-comers that the problem would be subsided as construction projects continue.

The latest businesses to flock to the district include Zipcar, who made the trek recently, and moved all of their cars and vans to the Seaport to show support for the increasingly-popular neighborhood.

The planning efforts and administration of an Innovation District transportation plan are led by A Better City, a business organization with experience in transportation planning for Boston and the region.  A Better City will soon release a RFP to solicit consultant services for a comprehensive, forward-looking transportation planning effort for the future of the Innovation District.