One of Boston’s worst intersections

There aren’t that many places in Boston where the car-person interaction is perfectly safe, but there also aren’t many where death seems incredibly likely. The intersection of Merrimac and New Chardon Streets, where the West End, North End and Government Center meet, is one of them.


All these streets are wide and fast. Although there are crosswalks, there are few pedestrian signals and what there are allow barely enough time to get across the street.Beneath the Government Center Garage, where Merrimac Street becomes Congress Street, oncoming cars don’t bother slowing down for pedestrians and so they tend to be stranded on treaffic islands because there are a lot of pedestrians in the area.

Between the tourists, the workers from various government and corporate offices, workers from the hospitals in the West End and people heading to the TD Banknorth Garden for a game or concert or other event, the intersection sees a lot of foot traffic. But it’s not designed to handle it, leaving it feeling very dangerous. According to the City of Boston’s Vision Zero website there have been four pedestrian injuries around these intersections since 2015. There was one injury to a cyclist.

Despite a lot of development, including over 2,000 units of housing and thousands of square feet of retail, there do not appear to be any plans to make ther streets of the Bulfinch Triangle more pedestrian friendly. This is disappointing, since doing so would be inexpensive.

The first thing to would be to eliminate the traffic islands, forcing drivers to have to actually stop to turn. Sneckdowns at pedesrtrian crossings and actual signals would also make things safer. Merrimac, New Chardon, Congress and Staniford Streets could all use cycletracks or parking protected bike lanes. The super wide portion of New Chardon/Market Street near the garage and Haymarket Station could be a candidate for street narrowing in the form of a few small buildings.

This stuff isn’t hard.

One thought on “One of Boston’s worst intersections

  1. These big terrible streets are mostly a result of urban renewal and the demolition of the West End and Scollay Square. That whole area is ripe for a lot of road diets and reconfiguration, which may even free up some developable land. The big danger in that intersection is the angle of the crossing which leads to high speeds and very long crosswalks so I wonder if it would make sense to break it up into two separate intersections: one a T for Merrimac and the other for Congress St crossing into Friend St.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s