Public Works will reconstruct Cummins Highway from River Street to the intersection of Harvard Street and Wood Avenue.
With the help of the community, we will explore ways to improve the streetscape. We want to create a design that is safe, convenient, and comfortable for everyone.THE FULL RECONSTRUCTION PROJECT WILL include:
- New, accessible sidewalks
- Safer crosswalks
- Installation of new street lights
- New street trees
- Rebuilt road
- Addition of better bike lanes
The temporary redesign (2020 to 2021)
From summer 2020 to fall 2021, we tested a design concept on Cummins Highway between Wood Avenue and River Street.
The temporary redesign of Cummins Highway helped us understand what worked and what didn't. After a full year of trying it out, we were able to evaluate the impacts of a two-lane design on traffic capacity and travel times. Traffic volumes remained consistent with pre-pandemic levels. However, drivers travelled at much safer speeds than they had before the temporary design was installed.
However, a pilot project did not provide all of the safety benefits we need for this corridor. For example, sidewalk condition and accessibility for persons with disabilities could not be addressed, nor could concerns about poor lighting.
Further, we learned that we must remove the center-running median. The median hindered safe passing of stopped vehicles, such as trash trucks, and raised concerns about impact on response time for our EMS and fire departments.
We gathered a lot of information from residents about what worked and what didn’t during the temporary redesign. The final design will address concerns the community have voiced, including removing the median for safe passing.
We aim to build a street where traffic can flow, but is also safe for people with disabilities, youth, and elders.
Safety on Cummins Highway
We began this project in spring 2019. Over the series of meetings we hosted in 2019 and 2020, residents of Mattapan and nearby neighborhoods shared a clear priority with us: a reconstruction project must address safety along the corridor. The clear community-based goal to improve safety corresponds with the data we have collected about Cummins Highway.
Cummins Highway was identified as a high-crash corridor based on the volume of injury-causing crashes that occurred in 2015, 2016, and 2017. It is among the most crash-prone corridors Citywide.
In October 2018, more than two-thirds of all drivers on Cummins Highway exceeded 35 mph. This speeding was rampant all day: between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., two in three drivers traveled at 30 mph or faster. Speeding rates significantly increased in the evening and early morning hours. We refer to people who drive more than 10 mph over the speed limit as "high-end speeders."
Our goal with the temporary redesign is to create a safer street for residents now, while we continue to work on a longer-term complete reconstruction. Though overall traffic in 2021 is between 13% and 16% lower than October 2018, high-end speeders are down significantly. This is a much safer environment for people in the neighborhood who are walking or driving.
We have data from:
- October 2018 (pre-pandemic)
- August, September, and December 2020, and
- May and June 2021.
You can read about how we collect data and what we found when we compared the data from 2018 to the data from 2020. You can also download spreadsheets of the original data files.
Air quality and Cummins Highway
The Environment Department helps Boston become more sustainable, resilient, and healthier city now and for future generations. Our colleagues helped us understand how transportation impacts air quality in Boston.
Suffolk County, where we are, has the highest concentration of pollution from on-road vehicles. It is 88% above the state average. Air pollution disproportionately burdens:
- people of color
- individuals with lower educational attainment, and
- households with an annual income of less than $20,000.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation account for about 30% of Boston’s total emissions. Around 65% of that comes from passenger vehicles. Tire wear, brake wear, and road abrasion cause about 85% of fine, inhalable particulate matter in the air. This particulate matter can:
- exacerbate lung and heart ailments
- cause asthma attacks or lung cancer, and
- lead to both increased hospitalizations and mortality from cardiovascular diseases.
Traffic on “arterial” streets, like Cummins Highway, can cause similar levels of noise and air pollution to major freeways — or even greater levels depending on traffic conditions. Our reconstruction project is an important opportunity to improve air quality for Mattapan residents and others who use the corridor. We can improve air quality through vegetation and expanding access to active transportation. We can take advantage of technology improvements to buy lower-cost sensors to measure air quality.
On July 21, 2021, we co-hosted a virtual meeting to discuss the ways transportation policies and design influence air quality. We noted potential design changes possible with the Cummins Highway reconstruction project.
Heat resilience and Cummins Highway
As part of Climate Ready Boston, the City is developing citywide solutions to:
- reduce urban heat and heat risk, and
- prepare for the long-term impacts.
Your experience of heat is more than just the weather. It is influenced by your own personal characteristics, such as age, as well as how the City is designed around you. Past policies and practices influence how you experience heat today. The end of Boston's streetcar system, transportation design manuals, and funding choices all increase heat vulnerability in Mattapan today.
Limiting reliable transportation choices means more people must drive everywhere. More traffic brings heat from tires, brakes, and exhaust pipes. One mile traveled by a personal vehicle creates as much heat as a 1500-watt space heater running for 70 minutes. Wide roads and paved areas with less tree canopy heat up during the day. That heat is stored in the neighborhood overnight in paved areas. This makes it hard to cool down and heat waves are even worse.
Through the Cummins Highway reconstruction project, we can incorporate design features that mitigate heat. This could include planting areas, trees, cooling public art, and more.
On July 8, 2021, we hosted a virtual meeting to share information about the City's heat resilience study. We also discussed opportunities to address heat through the Cummins Highway Reconstruction project.
Land use and transportation planning
PLAN: Mattapan has goals for housing, culture, environment, businesses, and mobility. Drawing from community members' comments and from Go Boston 2030, the planning team is working to increase access to high-quality travel options for Mattapan residents. The goals is for residents to safely and reliably connect to destinations within Mattapan and the rest of the City.
They worked with the community to identify "nodes," or places where commercial, retail, and residential uses are located. Nodes provide opportunities for people to gather and create a destination for the neighborhood. PLAN: Mattapan will identify corridors, routes, and other projects to improve access to these nodes — by bus, train, walking, biking, or driving.
The Cummins Highway Redesign is one opportunity to implement the values of PLAN: Mattapan, as communicated by residents and the goals of previous planning efforts.
On August 17, 2021, we hosted a virtual conversation with the BPDA. They talked about their work and how we collaborate. They also provided information about transportation planning that is part of PLAN: Mattapan.
Public Health and Cummins Highway
We want to address health inequities caused by transportation plans and policies. To do so, we must intentionally change the way we design streets. Our streets are a building block for healthy people and healthy communities.
In Boston, we use a Complete Streets approach. This means that we considers the needs of many types of activities and users of a street. We design to make streets safer for everyone and easier to walk, to bicycle, and to take the bus. Complete Streets is one tool to address long-term health inequities.
We hosted a public meeting on Tuesday, October 5. We were joined by Mary Bovenzi, Director of the Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Division at Boston Public Health Commission.
We plan to reconstruct Cummins Highway. You can shape the final design!
We are hosting a series of conversations about different design topics. We hear about your ideas, preferences, and questions. Each conversation informs how we shape the final design plans for Cummins Highway.
Some of the elements we're discussing include:
- Street lighting
- Stormwater infrastructure
- Bus stops
You've told us that street lighting on Cummins Highway needs to be better. The street is too dark at night, especially on the sidewalks. Also, the overhead wires are unattractive.
The street lights you see today were first installed by Eversource. When they built these lights, they used standards written 50 years earlier. Overhead wires power these lights, so they are not as reliable or attractive as they could be.
The City took over the care and ownership of these street lights in 2002. We can upgrade the street lights on Cummins Highway as part of the reconstruction project. We will add more street lights to eliminate dangerous dark spots. New lights will be LEDs and focused downward, toward the road, rather than into the sky.
We propose using pendant lights, which is our standard for major corridors in the City of Boston. We can add smaller pendant lights to better illuminate the sidewalk. You can see pendant lights in Upham's Corner and along Commonwealth Avenue in Allston. We are currently installing them on Neponset Avenue and in Nubian Square.
Want to learn more about street lighting? We hosted a meeting on September 21, 2021.
stormwater and green Infrastructure
On Boston's streets and parking lots, rainwater and melting snow cannot soak into the soil. Instead, it drains into the city's stormwater system. As it runs through parking lots and along wide streets, the rainwater picks up pollutants and carries them into the system.
We anticipate more severe weather events in the future, due to climate change. Along Cummins Highway, we may see increased risk of flooding from heavier rain and snow storms. This extra water will put even more pressure on our stormwater system.
We can better manage this stormwater—and reduce pollution—by changing how we design streets. We can build "green infrastructure" absorbs, stores, and manages stormwater in a way that mimics nature. We can use gardens and planted landscaping to do this. We can also use tools like permeable pavers.
We are exploring the potential to include landscaping ("rain gardens") to help manage stormwater as part of the Cummins Highway reconstruction.
On October 19, 2021, Dave Queeley from Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation talked with us about green infrastructure. He talked about why green infrastructure is important and showed examples from the Codman Square area. He also shared information on the jobs training program he manages.
Share Your Thoughts
As we plan the final design for Cummins Highway, we want to hear your thoughts and ideas.Talk to the project team
You can talk with someone on the project team, one-on-one. We have virtual office hours every other Wednesday from 3 - 7 p.m. You can call or use video chat.
You can submit any comments or questions you have regarding the temporary design trial on Cummins Highway through our online survey. The survey is available in:
We have been collecting feedback from residents. These comments influenced changes to the temporary redesign and will inform our final design plans. You can read what your neighbors have shared with us:
Previous Project updatesPast updates
- Explore the changes
Learn more about the temporary redesign on this interactive website
- Parking next to a parking-protected bike lane
Parking your car next to a parking-protected bike lane is similar to parking on any other street.
- Getting out of your car
Here are some things to keep in mind about accessing your vehicle on a street with a parking-protected bike lane.
- Rekonsepsyon tanporè Cummins Highway
Kounye a, gen yon rekonsepsyon tanporè an plas
- Pakin bò kote liy bekàn ki pwoteje yo
Pakin machin ou bò kote liy bekàn ki pwoteje yo se tankou ou tap pakin li nenpòt lòt kote.
- Soti nan machin ou ak travese liy bekàn ki pwoteje yo
Men kèk bagay ou dwe konnen lè wap chèche jwen aksè nan machin ou bò liy bekàn ki pwoteje yo.
- Explora los cambios
Aprenda sobre el rediseño temporal en esta pagina interactiva.
- Cómo estacionarse al lado de una ciclovía protegida por estacionamiento
Estacionarse al lado de una ciclovía protegida por estacionamiento es parecido a estacionarse en cualquier otra calle.
- Cómo salir de tu vehículo y cruzar una ciclovía protegida por estacionamiento
Estas son algunas de nuestras sugerencias para acceder a tu auto en un estacionamiento con una ciclovía protegida.
On Thursday, February 27, 2020, we held the third public meeting at Mattahunt Community Center. We continued the discussion of potential improvements for Cummins Highway.
You can review and download the materials shared during the meeting.
On Tuesday, October 29, 2019, we held the second public meeting at Mattahunt Community Center. We continued the discussion of potential improvements for Cummins Highway.
You can review and download the materials shared during the meeting.
On Thursday, April 11, 2019, we held the first public meeting at Mattahunt Community Center. We discussed potential improvements for Cummins Highway.
You can review and download the materials shared during the meeting.